Amazon’s Echo range has come a long way since the first Alexa-powered smart speaker launched back in 2014.
Fast forward to now and the AI voice assistant is everywhere – you’ll even find Alexa in a toilet if you look hard enough! Anyone looking to add some smarts to their home is bound to find a speaker that meets their needs, so follow our guide as we take you through the best Amazon Echo devices you can buy right now.
The Echo lineup currently features four main products: the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Studio and Echo Show. Each one does something slightly different, and some come available in a couple of ways. This can be confusing, but we’re here to help you cut through the noise and find the Echo that’s right for you.
Whether you’re jumping on the Alexa bandwagon for the first time, looking to expand an existing Echo empire, or need a speaker to satisfy your inner audiophile, there’s a device designed for you – so let’s get started. Here’s a look at the current Amazon Echo range and who each device is best suited for.
The best Amazon Echo for first-time buyers
Amazon Echo Dot (2020, 4th gen)
At just £50, the Echo Dot is the most obvious starting point for anyone just dipping a toe into the virtual assistant pool – and it now looks a whole lot better, too. The latest version of the Echo Dot does away with the hockey puck design, synonymous with Amazon’s cheapest Echo speaker for so long, favouring a spherical construction more akin to a crystal ball.
It looks pretty much the same as the more expensive Echo proper now, which means there’s enough room inside for a 1.6-inch speaker – decent enough to meet most people’s Spotify needs. If it’s not, there’s Bluetooth connectivity and a 3.5mm cable output, so you can connect it to a separate wired or wireless speaker to give some added oomph to your tunes.
Its fabric coat comes across as more sophisticated stretched to this new form factor, and the Dot is just as capable at answering queries and assisting you as the fuller-bodied models are. Alexa can answer your random queries, tell you the weather, set timers, or tell a joke, as well as helping manage your various smart home devices via spoken commands. For an extra tenner, it’ll also double as a physical clock. Put simply, the Echo Dot is an excellent, extremely affordable smart speaker – and the obvious place to start for anyone looking to welcome Alexa into their home for the first time.
The best Amazon Echo for all-around performance
Amazon Echo (2020, 4th gen)
The original Echo is a worthwhile upgrade, especially now it’s priced at £90 (it used to be £150). The money is particularly well spent for music lovers, as the Echo proper houses a 3.0-inch woofer and dual 0.8-inch tweeters for a fuller, room-filling sound that gets the Dolby seal of approval.
Its seven-mic array continues to be improved, too, and with noise-cancelling tech included it can still hear your commands over almost any cacophony the kids are making or the music that it’s playing.
It’s a superior device for smart home management as well, with the 4th gen Echo coming with a built-in Zigbee hub that allows you to more easily control connected heating and lighting systems using Alexa.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one Echo device that doesn’t break the bank, this is the one to get – especially if you want your music to have that bit extra punch, or have wider smart home ambitions.
The best Amazon Echo for families
Amazon Echo Show 5, 8, 10 and 15
Ever wished Alexa could show you stuff, as well as tell you about it? Then you might be tempted by one of the four Echo Show models currently available.
The Echo Show combines Alexa smarts with either a 5-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch or 15-inch display, depending on which model you opt for. Understanding the range is relatively straightforward, as the screen size corresponds to the device’s model number, so the Echo Show 5 features a 5-inch display, and so on.
The main thing the Echo Show’s screen adds is the ability to make video calls, which is why we think it’s the perfect family device. For most people, the Echo Show 8 or Echo Show 10 should hit the sweet spot in that regard.
The Echo Show 5 is more of a super-smart clock, ideal for bedside tables and the like, while the larger Show 15 is ideal for family organisation as it’s big enough to be wall-mounted. This means it can also be a second TV replacement of sorts, as you can stream Netflix and Prime Video on it, provided you’re not too fussed about it maxing out at an HD picture.
You still primarily interact with all Show devices using your voice, but examples of the kinds of information displayed relevant to your requests include detailed weather reports, for example, or step-by-step recipe instructions when you’re cooking. Another major benefit of adding a video display to your Echo is that it can link up with smart home security products like Ring doorbells – a serious upgrade over the door viewers (aka peep holes) of old.
Starting with the Echo Show 8 and above, you’ll get at least a pair of speakers round the back, with Show 10 and Show 15 being superior to the regular Echo in terms of audio quality. And not that ‘audio quality and ‘intercom’ necessarily go hand-in-hand, but larger Echo Shows double as one of those if you want, too.
This is the best Echo to get if you make regular video calls, and like the sound of all the benefits of having a visual display mentioned above – if you’re still not sure, though, we have an Echo Show guide that explains the differences between the four in even more detail.
The best Amazon Echo for music lovers
Amazon Echo Studio (1st gen)
For real music lovers, choosing the right Echo device is simple – it’s the Echo Studio FTW, simple as.
Why? While most Echo speakers are serviceable enough for some tunes to do the washing up to, the Echo Studio is a proper bit of hi-fi kit, offering a five-speaker array comprising a 1-inch tweeter, three 2-inch mid-range speakers, and a 5.25-inch woofer for true 3D sound.
As such, you can expect powerful bass, dynamic midrange and crisp highs, with the Studio also getting the Dolby Atmos seal of approval, meaning there’s especially good clarity and depth to the sound it produces.
On top of that, it’ll handle all the same Alexa requests as other Echo models and has the benefit of the Zigbee hub again for controlling all your smart home devices, if you have or are looking to build a bit of an ecosystem.
At £100 more than the regular Echo, it’s the clear choice for audiophiles and anyone else wanting to really blast the tunes. As a result, this is the Echo many of us would buy ourselves if push came to shove.