Best Amazon Echo in 2022
With so many different speakers and smart displays in Amazon’s Echo range, it can be difficult to know which one to buy.
It might state the obvious, but the difference between Echo speakers and the Echo Show models is that the latter have screens. With it, they can show photos, play videos from various streaming services (including Netflix now), headlines, weather forecasts and even games.
Each of these devices runs on AC power (they are not portable) and responds to voice commands when connected to Wi-Fi. Alexa is the built-in digital assistant, but whether you choose an Echo or an Echo Show, Alexa can do essentially the same things.
And you can do a lot with Alexa. You can ask for specific music (and play that music in sync on multiple Echos). You can “drop in” on other Echo devices in your home for a quick chat with a family member, or call friends and family using Echos — or the Alexa app — and that can be a video call if you and them are in echo have show.
Of course, there are more prosaic uses, like saying “Alexa, what time is it?” and “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes.” But if you have compatible smart lights or a smart socket, you can also use commands like “Alexa, turn on the kitchen light” or “Alexa, turn off the iron.”
That’s the great thing about echoes. You can use them very easily or really take advantage of what Alexa can do.
Alexa is also available from other manufacturers like Sonos and built into some TVs, soundbars — even dashcams, and cars — but we’re focusing on Amazon-made devices here.
Read on to see what they all do differently, but also check out these great accessories for the various Echo devices, including the Wall Clock and Echo Connect. There’s also the Echo Sub, which can be paired with an Echo or two for better bass (but only when streaming music from the internet).
If you want tips on the things you can do with an Echo, here’s how to use Alexa.
Best Amazon Echo 2022
- Outstanding sound quality
- Supports spatial audio
This is the Amazon Echo to buy if sound quality is important to you. You still need to subscribe to a music streaming service that offers “HD” music, and not coincidentally, Amazon’s own is the current service.
The studio not only makes Hi-Res audio, it also supports so-called 3D audio. Currently it can play Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio, which can be both music and video soundtracks.
Best of all, it’s a lot cheaper than Apple and Google’s competitors. It also sounds even better when paired with the Echo Sub, but be warned that the Sub only works with streamed music, not Bluetooth from your phone.
- Built-in Zigbee hub
- AZ1 processor
- Can be hard to see ring of light
The Amazon Echo 4 looks completely different from the Echo 3 in terms of design, and the sound quality is also noticeably better thanks to extra bass.
As you’d expect, it doesn’t quite match the Echo Studio, but it’s a lot cheaper. And if you really want a cheap Echo with great sound, look for an Echo input on ebay (Amazon has discontinued it) and connect it to your sound system of choice.
The Echo 4 is one of the best value smart speakers out there as it now has the Echo Plus’ Smart Hub, which allows it to connect to and control Zigbee devices like Philips Hue lights.
The ring of light attached below can be harder to see than previous Echoes, but it really depends on where you place it in your room.
It also features the newer Amazon AZ1 processor, which allows for a more natural-sounding Alexa voice and can handle some commands without requiring an internet connection.
Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
- good value
- Useful clock display
The Echo Dot has always been an affordable way to bring Alexa into your home. The latest model has better bass, looks even better than the third-gen Dot and considering the more powerful processor it’s great value at this price point.
You can even pair two Dots for stereo sound.
We think it’s worth shelling out the extra £10/$10 to get the clock version as it’s so convenient to see the time and remaining time on a timer.
It’s a great introduction to Alexa for listening to the radio, podcasts, music and asking questions. You can have one or place several around the house.
- The rotatable display faces you
- good sound
It’s a lot more expensive than the Echo Show’s 5- and 8-inch smart displays, but the Echo Show 10 largely justifies its cost with good sound quality and its ability to follow you around the room.
It sounds a bit gimmicky, but should come in handy in larger rooms or kitchens where you’d otherwise have to manually rotate the screen to see it.
You can also use the rotate feature to keep an eye on your room while you’re away by swiping your phone’s screen to remotely rotate the camera.
Other than that, the experience is similar to its predecessors and the smaller-screen versions. We’d be open to an even bigger screen, but as long as you’re not trying to replace a TV with the Echo Show, it’s big enough.
- Widgets provide information at a glance
- Wall mountable
- Interface needs work
- Mediocre sound quality
The Show 15 has the largest screen of any Echo at 15.6 inches. You can buy an optional desk stand, but it’s designed to be hung on the wall.
Unlike other Echo Shows, you can choose widgets that show useful information like your calendar, control of your favorite smart home devices, and a weather forecast. Thanks to “Visual ID”, Alexa can recognize who is in front of the screen and display personalized information in these widgets.
In the future, companies will release their own widgets designed to make the Show 15 even more useful, but right now there aren’t many to choose from.
It’s great as a digital photo frame, but images can only be pulled from Amazon Photos or Facebook, which is pretty limiting.
And because of the thin picture frame design, the sound quality isn’t that strong: you should avoid this model if you plan to listen to a lot of music.
You can use it for video calls, but it’s a shame the camera doesn’t keep you in frame like the Echo Show 8 and 10.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021)
- Use like a surveillance camera
- The camera keeps you in the picture
It might not have the Zigbee hub built into the pricier — and larger — Echo Show 10, but this model offers the best compromise of features, screen size, and audio quality.
And at this price point, these aren’t compromises you’ll ever regret: Alexa is just as capable here as it is on the Echo Show 10, and can display the video feed from compatible cameras; Lyrics for many songs from Amazon Music and more.
Also, this second generation model has a 13 megapixel camera that offers high resolution for digital zoom. This is used on video calls to keep you in the center of the frame even as you move around the room – just like the Facebook portal and the latest iPad Pro. It’s not as versatile as the 360° Echo Show 10, but it’s a good compromise.
They’re a good choice for entertainment thanks to the recent addition of Netflix on all Echo Show models. Just note that unlike Amazon’s Fire TV devices and, of course, Google’s own Nest Hub smart display, YouTube isn’t readily available.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
- No longer offered with clock display
The third-gen Echo Dot is still sold alongside the 4th-gen model at a lower price point.
It sounds pretty good for its size – especially when listening to the radio. But it lacks the fourth-gen Dot’s newer processor, and there’s no longer a “clock” model.
That said, it all depends on the price you find it for. Amazon regularly discounts Echos and we’ve seen the Dot sell for less than the Echo Flex. If the price difference between third- and fourth-gen Dots is just a few pounds or dollars, it’s worth opting for the newer model.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2021)
- Can be used like a surveillance camera
The Echo Show 5 costs less than the fourth-gen Echo but has a 5.5-inch screen and camera for video calls. It’s a little small for watching Amazon Prime (or Netflix) videos, but it’s a great size for a bedside table.
The sound quality isn’t as good as the Echo 4 or Echo Show 8, which is the only real downside. This latest second-gen model has a higher-resolution camera (which isn’t as good as the 8s) and can also be used as a kind of surveillance camera, as you can view the camera feed remotely.
Essentially it’s a good choice if you’re on a tight budget but want an Echo with a screen and don’t need music to sound amazing.
The Flex is a different kind of smart speaker: it’s a utility device, not one for listening to music or radio, and was designed to plug directly into a wall outlet in your hallway, garage, or any other area where You only need basic audio functions.
It’s great for asking Alexa for information and controlling your lights, switches, and plugs. You can connect a motion sensor (or night light) to make it even more useful.
The car is an unusual Echo because it’s the only option – from Amazon’s range – to plug Alexa into your car. That means you can’t really compare it to other Echo models.
There are alternatives if you’re considering a device that will add Alexa to your car, like the Roav Viva (which is around the same price) and a dashcam from Nextbase’s latest range.
Of these options, the Echo Auto is the easiest to set up, but the Viva is the more discreet option, as it plugs directly into your car’s 12V socket.
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