Amazon is using a completely different product strategy than Apple.
Apple comes out with one new product per year while updating previous iterations of their products. Apple doesn’t release a product unless they know it’s going to be the best device on the market in its category.
Amazon releases multiple new products every year without knowing if they’re going to succeed or strike out. They try every new idea and see what sticks.
Amazon delivers these fresh products to as many Amazon Prime members as possible and lets the market dictate what items are a hit.
That’s great for consumers because we get more options. The caveat is it can be overwhelming.
Right now, there are five Alexa smart speakers. All Alexa devices do similar things, and there isn’t much differentiation between them.
I bought all five and compared them side by side (Echo vs. Echo Plus vs. Dot vs. Spot vs. Show) to help you make an informed decision.
First, I’ll tell you about the things I love and hate about all Alexa devices in general.
Sidenote for reference: Before doing this post, I owned JBL Charge 3, UE Boom 2, UE Megaboom, JBL Xtreme, all the Sonos speakers, first generation Echo, and Echo Dot. I’m not an audiophile, but it’s good to know which speakers I’ve worked with recently.
- Dot must be connected to WiFi to work.
- You can buy one for as little as $30 during the holidays and other special events.
- You can connect external speakers through Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack. That’s a significant advantage unique to Dot. You can add Alexa smarts to any “dumb speaker.”
- Sound quality: The speakers on Dot are dreadful and shouldn’t be used for anything other than Alexa’s voice (even Alexa’s voice doesn’t sound great). A comparable device, like Google Home Mini, sounds much better.
Echo Gen 2 ($100)
- This is Amazon’s second-generation Echo.
- It’s $80 cheaper than the original Echo and is smaller (it’s 6″ tall compared to 9″ with the first generation and Echo Plus). In my opinion, 6″ is the perfect height for these speakers. It’s large enough to deliver robust sound, but not tall enough to be an eyesore.
- It’s better-looking than the original Echo and comes in six different colors.
- You can use it as a Bluetooth speaker without WiFi, as long as you originally paired it while connected to WiFi.
- Sound quality: It has a 2.5″ woofer, 0.6″ tweeter and Dolby-powered sound. It sounds better than the first generation Echo and better than the original Google Home. The sweet spot for volume is around 70%. When it’s any louder than that, the sound gets distorted. There’s not much bass, and you can find better speakers for this price. But this is much more than a simple speaker. For reference, it sounds similar to UE Boom 2.
My second-favorite is Dot. It’s small and unobtrusive with the same Alexa capabilities as the expensive Echos and it hooks up to any speaker setup.