The Amazon Echo started off as a simple device, but now there are more than nine different Echo products out in the wild and on Amazon’s virtual shelves. So what’s the difference between them all, and which one should you buy?
The Original Echo: Voice Control with a Beefy Speaker
Let’s start with the original products, for comparison’s sake. The first-gen Echo was a wine-bottle-sized speaker, with far-field always-listening microphones that allowed you to talk to it from across the room. It can answer questions, play music, control smarthome devices, and act as an intercom of sorts with other Echos. Many of these new features came as software updates, and if you have an Amazon Echo now, it’ll probably still get some new features in the future. Here’s a roundup of everything you can do with the Echo.
Amazon has stopped selling the original Echo on its website, but you can still get it at Whole Foods while supplies last, as well as grab both the black and white versions refurbished for $130 on amazon.com. We also recommend grabbing them used for cheap—apparently a lot of people are buying them, not using them, and then trying to fence them on Craigslist and OfferUp later on.
The Echo Dot: Small, Compact, and Works with Your Stereo
The Echo Dot ($50) is a tiny, inexpensive version of the original Echo—it can do everything the original Echo could, without taking up as much space (although it’s missing the nice, big speaker). However, to make up for the lack of speaker, it contains a line out port that lets you hook it up to your stereo or other big, high-quality speakers. (The original Echo did not have this, but all the new Echos do.)
The original Echo Dot contained a volume wheel along the top, just like the regular Echo. However, that was shortly discontinued, and replaced with a cheaper version that contained volume buttons instead.
The Amazon Tap: A Battery-Powered Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa
While not officially part of the “Echo” line, the Amazon Tap ($130) is basically a battery-powered Amazon Echo. It’s designed to be more of a travel Bluetooth speaker with Alexa built in, but now that it has always-on listening, there are almost no other differences between it and the original Echo beyond its slightly smaller size. It was a great deal, but the second generation Echo is even cheaper, so it’s a better buy if you don’t need the battery power (more on that in a moment).
The Echo Show: Echo with Video
The Echo Show ($230), released earlier this year, can do everything the original Echo can—but it contains a touch screen that can show the information as well as say it. You can also watch videos on it, see a feed from your security cameras, video chat with other Echo owners, and do a few other things that require a screen.
The Echo, Generation Two: Smaller and Cheaper
The original Echo has been discontinued, and is now replaced by a…
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