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Should you buy the Amazon Echo, or the more affordable Echo Dot?

amazon alexa powered audio gear subwoofer amplifier echo plus dot charcoal side table

Having the ability to say “Alexa” and have your questions instantly answered may be nothing short of futuristic, but with different Amazon Echo devices all offering the same voice assistant, which one should you get?

Both the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot have built-in omnidirectional microphones designed to pick up your voice from anywhere in the room, but there are noticeable and important differences between the two devices. We’ll break it down in our Amazon Echo vs. Dot showdown.

Echo DotDan Baker/Digital TrendsFirst, let’s talk about Alexa

The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot both come with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. You can ask Alexa to read the news, solve math problems, report the weather, play music, turn on your lights, and a whole lot more. You can even create your own skills on either device using Alexa Blueprints.

Just use the wake word, which is “Alexa” by default, to access what the device has to offer. With 360-degree omnidirectional microphones, both devices are designed to always listen and hear you from anywhere in the room. However, while the latest Echo has a seven-microphone array, the latest iteration of the Dot has a simpler four-microphone array. Got music playing? No worries. Whether you have the Echo or the Dot, Alexa will still hear you over the sound of you blasting Cardi B. Well, provided you enunciate.

There are lots of smart technology options on the market these days that are compatible with the Echo and Echo Dot, from Honeywell thermostats to Philips Hue lighting systems, and you can control your smart home systems directly from your Echo devices or with the Alexa App.

Size, looks, and portability echo dot 2018 3rd generationRich Shibley/Digital Trends

The current versions of the Echo and the Dot have noticeable differences in size. The second-gen Echo is 3.4 inches in diameter, while the third-gen Dot is 3.9 inches in diameter. Echo is much taller and heavier than the Dot too. Think of the Echo as a cylindrical device.

The Echo Dot is more lightweight, and it looks a bit like a thick hockey puck. The third-gen Echo Dot is slightly heavier than its predecessors, weighing 10.6 ounces. The most recent iteration of the Echo is even heavier at 1.8 pounds.

The Echo Dot is also just a fraction of the Echo’s height, with the current Dot clocking in at 1.7 inches and the current Echo at 5.8 inches. In comparison to its larger sister, the Echo Dot wins in terms of portability. You can throw it in your handbag to bring along to parties, or find room for it in your home even if there isn’t a lot of shelf space for smart home devices.

Sound quality Echo bundle smart home deals

While both devices have a built-in speaker, the Echo boasts a larger, higher-quality, 360-degree speaker. The newer-model speakers also come with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and dynamic bass response for even better sound quality. The third-gen Echo Dot has improved its sound quality over the older Dots, adding a larger drive, and sounds significantly louder than the previous models. 

Both devices feature a 3.5mm output jack, so you can connect them to an external speaker using an audio cable to boost the sound quality.

Aesthetics Amazon Echo 2017 review topBill Roberson/Digital Trends

Wondering which one will fit in better with the existing furniture and technology in your home?

The third-gen Dot comes in charcoal, heather grey, or sandstone. The Echo comes in six different color schemes. Two have a wooden finish (walnut or oak), three are fabric (charcoal, heather gray, or sandstone), and one is a metallic silver. Some of the Echo finishes (like the three fabric finishes and the walnut finish) are more readily available than the others though.

With a wide array of looks to choose from, you’ll probably have no trouble finding one that fits your home’s decor.

Cost best tech gifts under 50 echo dot 3rd gen image

When deciding which Amazon Alexa device to purchase, cost is one of the key factors people consider. If budget is a concern, know that the Dot is less than half the price of the Echo and offers the same functionalities.

The third-gen Dot costs $50 retail, but you can sometimes find it available on sale for around $30. The Echo second-gen sells for $100 retail, but you can sometimes find it on sale for between $65 and $75. You can also find bundle deals, where you can get an Echo Dot with another smart home product, like a smart plug or smart light bulb.

Conclusion

Basically, the only difference between the two devices, other than size and cost, is sound. If you’re just looking to be introduced to Alexa, you’ll be fine with the Echo Dot. It has all the smarts of Alexa in a small speaker. Keep in mind when putting together your shopping list that you can connect any smart speaker to either device for richer sound.

If you’re just looking to pick up an Echo to create a multiroom, Alexa-enabled experience, the Echo Dot is a great choice. It even comes in a kid-friendly version if you want to put it in your child’s room. All in all, the Echo Dot is an ideal choice for most people.

Amazon also released the Echo Input, which allows you to add Alexa to your existing speaker and retails for even less than the Echo Dot.

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