Amazon has grown its family of Echo products from a single smart speaker to a wide array of Alexa-enabled devices for every room in your home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices, or you want to pick the right gift for the holidays, we’re breaking down what your options are and who each Echo is for.
If the first time you heard of the Amazon Echo was when someone asked for one for the holidays, here’s the lowdown: the Echo system is a family of smart speakers that most people use to play music and set reminders, but it can do a whole lot more. Every Echo uses Amazon’s smart assistant Alexa to listen for voice commands and respond. Each device has its own special features and unique advantages.
Amazon Echo (2nd Generation, $99)
The original Amazon Echo was a tall, stylish tube that packed some excellent speakers and seven microphones so it could not only hear you anywhere, but it could tell where you were in relation to the device, and distinguish your voice from the ambient noise in the room. The recently updated second generation of the Echo improves the speakers with Dolby processing for even better sound quality. The new Echo is also smaller, with several new shell choices including fabric, wood, and silver-painted plastic.
Who It’s For: This is the standard Echo that will appeal to just about anyone. It’s not the cheapest Echo out there, but it’s pretty close. If you care about having great speakers to play music on, then go with this one.
Echo Plus ($149)
One of the best uses for an Echo outside of playing music is building your smart home. The Echo Plus takes this to heart and includes a ZigBee hub inside. That means if you buy Philips Hue lights, or any of a bunch of other compatible smart home products, then you can use them directly with the Echo Plus without needing a separate hub. However, the Echo Plus isn’t compatible with every single smart home device on the planet. You also miss out on some features that dedicated hubs have.
Who It’s For: Anyone who wants to turn their lights on and off with their voice or play around with smart home gadgets without too much fuss should check out this version. It’s slightly more expensive than the regular Echo, but if you don’t need the advance features and would rather have one device instead of several, it can save you money on some smart gadgets in the long run.
Echo Dot ($49)
If you want the cheapest Echo you can get, this is it. The Echo Dot takes all the voice command power of the Echo and strips away the high-quality…
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