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How to Pick the Amazon Echo That’s Right for You

4 minute read

If you’ve been contemplating purchasing one of Amazon’s voice-enabled Echo smart speakers, now is a particularly good time to pull the trigger. Just in time for Amazon’s Prime Day blowout sale, which kicks off at 9 p.m. ET on July 10, the company has slashed the prices of its Echo devices.

The standard model will cost $89.99 instead of $179.99, while the smaller Dot edition is getting a $15 discount that brings the price down to $34.99. Amazon’s portable Tap speaker will be selling for $79.90, a $50 markdown. And if you’re bundling a $229.99 Amazon Echo Show with an Arlo security camera, Amazon will chop $75 off the total price.

All Alexa-enabled devices can access third-party “skills,” or voice apps, and are compatible with music streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, and TuneIn. But there are a few important differences when it comes to the features each gadget has to offer.

Here’s a brief look at how they compare:

Amazon Echo

Amazon's Echo is seen on July 29, 2015 in New York City.
Amazon's Echo is seen on July 29, 2015 in New York City.Mark Lennihan—AP

Who it’s for: Shoppers looking for a decent living room speaker with smart speaker capabilities

Amazon’s standard Echo is ideal for those who want a smart device that can double as a speaker for playing music. The Echo supports 360-degree omni-directional audio and includes a separate woofer and tweeter, meaning it’s capable of filling a room with decent-quality sound.

If you’re looking for a gadget that can blast music as you’re doing the dishes and can also control your smart lights and provide news briefings, the standard Echo is your best bet.

Buy now: Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo Dot

courtesy of Amazon

Who it’s for: Amazon fans who want more Alexa in their home

If your main concern is having hands-free access to Alexa, check out the Echo Dot. The hockey puck-sized device has a built-in speaker for chatting with Amazon’s voice assistant, but it’s not really suitable for playing music. Instead, Amazon encourages users to attach the Dot to speakers of their choice either wirelessly or through a 3.5 millimeter cable. The Dot is a worthwhile option for those who already have a larger Echo in the living room and want to reach Alexa in other areas of the home.

Buy now: Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Tap


Who it’s for: Those looking for a portable Bluetooth smart speaker

The Tap isn’t technically part of the Echo family, but it’s essentially a portable version of Amazon’s flagship Alexa speaker. Amazon claims that the Tap offers nine hours of music playback, making it a better choice for those who want a speaker they can bring to the beach or a party. The biggest differences between the Tap and the Echo family is that it doesn’t need to be plugged into an outlet to work and it includes a button for summoning Alexa.

Buy now: Amazon Tap

Amazon Echo Show


Who it’s for: Users who rely on Alexa for more than just the weather

The pricier Echo Show adds one important characteristic: a touchscreen. That’s a big help when using Alexa for more complex tasks, like following food recipes or keeping an eye on your calendar.

But perhaps the screen’s most important job is turning the Echo Show into a video phone and personal intercom. The Show supports free video calling between other Echo owners and anyone with the Alexa app installed on their phone. A similar feature called Drop In, meanwhile, lets owners do just that on Echo Shows placed in various rooms throughout the home. Other Echo models are only capable of sending voice messages and making audio calls. All told, Amazon’s high-end Echo is best for those who care about video chatting and want a more fully-featured virtual assistant.

Buy now: Amazon Echo Show

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