a photo of amazon echo dot 5th gen on an nightstand

How to pick the right Amazon Echo speaker or display for your smart home

Your guide to the 2024 lineup of Echo smart speakers and displays

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The smart speaker or display is an obvious place to start when it comes to building your smart home, and if Alexa is your voice assistant of choice, you'll want an Amazon Echo.

The Echo product range began in late 2014 with the first-generation Echo, followed by the Echo Dot in 2016. As of early 2024, the Echo has an all-new spherical design and multiple color options in its fourth generation, while the Echo Dot is in its fifth generation. At the end of 2023, Amazon announced the launch of their first Echo hub, an easy-to-use Alexa-enabled control panel for your smart home devices.

Meanwhile, other Echo speakers got upgrades, including the Echo Dot With Clock, which is – you guessed it – an Echo Dot with an LED clock glowing from behind its fabric front. Then there is the range-topping Echo Studio with its improved audio quality.

Amazon's Echo Show range includes several different sizes of Alexa-powered smart displays, and the voice assistant also appears in the car-friendly Echo Auto (2nd Gen).

Here is a quick look at Amazon's Echo device range for 2024:

Echo Hub 8” smart home control panel with Alexa - $180

a photo of Echo Hub All-new Echo Hub 8" smart home control panel with Alexa Built-inAmazon

The newest member of the Amazon Echo family is their new smart theme control panel called Echo Hub. This 8-inch smart panel is a centralized control panel for managing a wide array of smart home devices, offering users the convenience of voice or touch commands to adjust lighting, monitor camera feeds, manage smart plugs, and more. It supports customization of its dashboard, enabling users to prioritize the controls and widgets that matter most to them, from security system arming to playing music and initiating routines for a more personalized smart home experience. Compatible with over 140,000 devices across various protocols like WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Sidewalk, Thread, and Matter, the Echo Hub ensures seamless integration and control, even without an internet connection. It also emphasizes privacy with multiple layers of protection, including a mic-off button and the option to delete voice recordings, while being designed with sustainability in mind. Note that certain features, like the camera snapshot function and Ring Alarm integration, require subscriptions.

The Echo Hub sells for $179.99 and is available on Amazon.

Amazon Echo Pop Speaker - $40

a photo of Amazon echo pop speaker on a nightstandAmazon Echo Pop Portable Bluetooth spreaker with AlexaAmazon

The Amazon Echo Pop compact speaker with Alexa is a new addition to the Amazon Echo smart speaker lineup. The Amazon Echo Pop is an affordable, compact smart speaker designed for small spaces, offering Alexa's full suite of capabilities, from playing music and podcasts to controlling smart home devices. Its front-firing speaker ensures quality sound for bedrooms, dorm rooms, and similar environments. Beyond entertainment, the Echo Pop supports hands-free calls, timers, news, weather updates, and interactive games with Alexa. It stands out with its privacy features, including a microphone off button and in-app controls, and integrates seamlessly with smart home ecosystems, supporting Bluetooth, Amazon Sidewalk, and Matter. Additionally, it includes eero-built functionality for enhanced connectivity, making it a versatile and user-friendly option for those new to smart speakers or looking to expand their smart home setup.

The Amazon Echo Pop costs $39.99 and is available on Amazon.

Amazon Echo (4th Gen) – $100 (often reduced to $80)

Image of a 2020 Amazon Echo smart speaker in the kitchen on a shelf.Amazon Echo (4th Gen) smart speaker Amazon

The backbone of the Echo range is, and always has been, the regular Echo. In doing so, Amazon switched from a cylindrical design to a ball for the fourth generation and turned the Echo into a more homely, friendly-looking device.

The latest Echo is available in charcoal, white, red, and blue, with all models finished in fabric and the trademark Alexa blue light ring at their base. The Echo has buttons for volume control, muting the microphone, and getting Alexa's attention (for when you don't want to say its name) on the top and a 3.5mm audio input next to the power socket on the rear.

The device measures 5.7 x 5.7 x 5.2 inches, weighs 34.2 oz, and contains a 3-inch woofer and two 0.8-inch tweeters. The regular Echo is well suited to most rooms, providing good sound at a decent volume without distortion.

Read the GearBrain review here.

Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) – $50

a photo of the all new Amazon Echo Dot 5th GenAll-New Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen - 2022 Release) Amazon

Like the Robin to the Echo's Batman, the Echo Dot is a smaller but equally intelligent sidekick with the same Alexa voice assistant and features, but with a compact form and less powerful sound.

The Echo Dot is available in the same charcoal, white, and blue colors but misses out on the regular Echo's (Product) Red option. The Dot is much smaller than the regular Echo, at 3.9 x 3.9 x 3.5 inches and 12 oz. Inside is a single 1.6-inch speaker, while the buttons on the top are the same as the Echo, along with the power socket and 3.5mm audio jack at the back.

The Echo Dot is best suited to smaller rooms or placed where it can be heard clearly at low volume. It cannot get as loud as the regular Echo, and the sound quality of the music isn't as good. A useful addition to a home with one or more Echo speakers.

Read the GearBrain review here.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock – $60

Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (4th Gen)Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock Amazon

This is identical to the regular Dot, but as the name suggests, an LED-illuminated clock shines through the fabric. Naturally, this is a smart speaker best used on a bedside table. It works like any other Echo smart speaker, is physically identical to the Dot, and is available in white and blue. It also costs slightly more than the Echo Dot. Its MSRP is $59.99, while the Echo Dot is normally $49.99.

Amazon Echo Studio – $200

Amazon Echo StudioThe $200 Echo Studio is the Alexa flagshipAmazon

The flagship of the Echo range and costing twice that of the regular Echo, the Studio is a far more capable smart speaker. Its intelligence and use of Alexa is the same as ever, but the device is larger and houses a more complex speaker setup.

There is a two-inch, upward-firing midrange speaker at the top, a pair of two-inch midrange speakers below this, firing to the left and right, a one-inch forward-firing tweeter, and a 5.25-inch, downward-firing subwoofer.

The cylindrical Echo Studio is 8.1 inches tall, 6.9 inches wide and weighs 7.7lb. It has the same Alexa control buttons at the top, plus the blue notification light and a 3.5mm audio jack on the back.

The Studio can be enjoyed in the larger rooms of your home and can even be connected wirelessly to a Fire TV streaming device to create a Dolby Atmos surround sound system.

Amazon Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen) – $90 (or $60 when refurbished)

photo of a child and adult watching a video on all-new Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen, 2023 release)All-new Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen, 2023 release) Amazon

Now for Amazon's Echo Show range of smart displays. These work just like the above speakers but include a touchscreen display for showing information relevant to whatever you say to Alexa, along with the time, date, and video either from on-demand services or compatible security cameras and video doorbells.

The Echo Look line begins with the 5. This 3rd generation smart display is available in black and charcoal and has a 5.5-inch display with 960 x 480 resolution and a 1-megapixel camera for making video calls. The Echo Show 5 is 5.8 inches wide, 3.4 inches tall, 2.9 inches deep, and weighs 14.5oz. It has control buttons on the top, a pair of microphones, a switch for hiding the camera, and a 3.5mm audio jack on the back. A single 1.7-inch speaker caters for audio.

This Show is best suited to smaller spaces in the home, where at-a-glance information is useful but where you are unlikely to sit and watch video content for long periods.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) – $99

The Echo Show 8 smart display by AmazonThe Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) smart display by Amazon Amazon

Next up is the Echo Show 8 – and you guessed it, it has an 8-inch display, this time with 1280 x 800 HD resolution for a sharper Alexa experience and improved video calls. Video calls on Echo Show devices work with Skype, Zoom, and Amazon Chime. Music and video services include Amazon, Apple, Spotify, Audible, Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and Food Network. As with the Show 5, there are buttons on the top for controlling Alexa and volume and a switch for hiding the camera when you don't want to use it.

The Show 8 produces better sound thanks to a pair of 2.0-inch speakers with spatial audio, 13 MP with an auto-framing camera, 1280 x 800 video resolution, and Visual ID personalization. The Show 8 is 7.9 inches wide, 5.4 inches high, 3.9 inches deep, and weighs 36.6oz. And this smart display also has a Zigbee smart home hub built-in.

The Show 8 works well on a kitchen counter, the living room, or wherever you play music and display digital recipes.

Amazon Echo Show 10 – $250

a photo of Amazon Echo Show 10 3rd Gen on a countertopAmazon Echo Show 10 3rd GenAmazon

Lastly, the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) has a 10.1-inch HD display with a video resolution of 1200 x 800, which is the same as the Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen). Sound is made using a pair of 1.0-inch tweeters and a 3.0-inch subwoofer, and the webcam is greatly improved thanks to a resolution of 13 megapixels, also in the Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) smart display.

The screen of the Show 10 rotates using an electric motor to help frame your video calls and can also be tilted up and down to get the right angle. This model has no 3.5mm audio jack, but it has the same physical controls and camera shutter switch as the other Echo Shows. The Show 10 measures 9.9 x 9.0 x 6.7 inches and weighs 90.3oz.

The Echo Show 10 works best in a larger space, such as the kitchen or lounge, where you want to watch videos, listen to music at a fairly loud volume, and hold video calls with friends and family. And it costs $249.99.

Amazon Echo Show 15 - $280

a photo of a Amazon Echo Show 15 on a dresserAmazon Echo Show 15 Smart Display works as our smart home hub. Amazon

The Echo Show 15 is Amazon's largest and most advanced Alexa smart display, designed to enhance family organization and entertainment. It can be mounted on a wall or placed on a stand in either portrait or landscape orientation. It allows users to customize the home screen with widgets to quickly access important information, notes, lists, calendars, and personalized profiles with visual and voice ID recognition. This smart display offers meal suggestions, smart home device control via a central dashboard, and the ability to add a picture-in-picture live camera feed. Entertainment features include news, movies, music with lyrics, podcasts, and the Photo Frame feature to display personal photos or artwork. Prime members enjoy unlimited photo storage. Echo Show 15 prioritizes privacy with a mic/camera off button, a built-in camera shutter, and customizable voice recording settings. Installation is straightforward, with all necessary tools and instructions provided for wall mounting and the option to switch orientations after installation.

The Echo Show 15 is the most expensive Echo Show smart display. It has an MSRP of $279.99 and is sold on Amazon.

Amazon Echo Auto (2nd Gen) – $50

a photo of Amazon Echo Auto (2nd Gen) wiith a smartphone showng the Alexa appAmazon Echo Auto (2nd Gen)Amazon

Finally, we have the Echo Auto. This small device is designed to attach to your car dashboard and act as a way to take Alexa on the road. The Echo Auto connects to your smartphone and the Alexa app for an internet connection, then plays its audio output through your car's sound system.

As with other Alexa devices, there is the blue status light, plus a button to mute the microphone and one to summon Alexa without saying her name (although the "Alexa" wake word works, too).

Some of the critical features of Echo Auto 2nd Gen consist of the following:

  • Hands-free Alexa: You can use your voice to control Alexa, even when your phone is in your pocket.
  • Play music, audiobooks, and podcasts: You can ask Alexa to play your favorite music, audiobooks, or podcasts.
  • Make calls and send messages: You can use Alexa to make calls, send messages, and even drop in on other Alexa devices in your home.
  • Control your smart home devices: You can use Alexa to control your smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, and locks.
  • Get directions and traffic updates: You can ask Alexa for directions, traffic updates, and even find parking.
  • Listen to the news and weather: You can ask Alexa to listen to the news and weather or even set up a daily briefing.
Echo Auto 2nd Gen is a great way to add Alexa to your car and make your drive more enjoyable. It is available for purchase on Amazon for $54.99. But remember, it is not the best option if you are looking for a dedicated car stereo with built-in Alexa.

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