Many smart homes have welcomed Alexa into their households. The smart speaker is one of the most popular smart home items people have that they can use to not only manage their calendars and play Spotify, but to control their third-party devices like smart locks, lights, and thermostats.
What started as just a single speaker has grown into a full-lineup of products that have expanded Alexa’s capabilities and functionalities. Now, Alexa includes the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Echo Spot. Each of these products features many of the same voice-activated capabilities, but each has its own unique skill set that many users find useful. Below, we break down each product so you can decide which would be the best to add to your smart home.
The Amazon Echo was the first product in the smart speaker (or smart assistant) series and is still their most popular. The second generation Echo features an updated design that has a 2.5” subwoofer and Dolby sound that delivers great audio output. It has seven microphones that can capture vocal commands from anywhere within range, even where there is background noise.
The Echo can talk to other connected Amazon products like the Dot or Tap, and can do just about anything you ask. There are more features than we can include on this review, but among it’s most popular features are the ability to play music, order good from a connect Prime account, call and message contacts, and connect with just about any third-party device.
The Amazon Echo comes in six different finishes, including black, heather grey, oak, and walnut. The dimensions are 5.8″ x 3.4″ x 3.4″ and it weighs 28 oz. (or about 1.75 pounds).
There is also an Amazon Echo Plus version, that has all the same capabilities as the 2nd Gen, but includes a built-in hub for simple setup of compatible smart home devices.
If you were to take the 1st Gen Amazon Echo and shrink it down into a hockey puck-sized version of itself, you’d have the Echo Dot. The Dot does most everything that the Echo can do, only it has a less-powerful speaker to play music. The Echo Dot makes for easy additions to home offices or bedrooms.
The Amazon Dot also has style thanks to its many customized cases, that range from saddle tan leather to sandstone fabric. Another great feature with the Dots is that they can communicate with one another, so you can play the same music across your whole house, or even talk to someone in another room from one dot to another.
The dimensions are 1.3″ x 3.3″ x 3.3″ and it weighs 5.7 oz. (less than .5 pounds).
For anyone who appreciates the Amazon Echo, but doesn’t appreciate the fact that it has to stay plugged in, the Amazon Tap might be right for you. The Tap was made to be a Bluetooth speaker, but quickly became just another Echo that doesn’t require connection to a wall outlet at all time.
The Tap is a chargeable device that has about nine hours of continuous playback and requires connect to Wi-Fi or a phone’s mobile hotspot in order to work. What is great about the Tap is that you can take it with you wherever you go, and as long as it’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can control your smart home devices from anywhere in the world. The sound is also high-quality, thanks to the Dolby speaker. The fashionable Amazon Tap Sling makes for a great accessory that lets you hook the Tap onto a book bag and not have to worry about it.
The dimensions are 6.3″ x 2.6″ x 2.6″ and it weighs 16.6 oz. (about 1 pound).
The Amazon Echo Show features many of the same capabilities as the Amazon Echo, but add a 7.0” touch screen and dual 2.0” speakers. The product has eight microphones, a front facing camera for pictures and video calling, and a touch screen that allows you to access the internet and toggle from its built in features.
While it does all of the things that the Echo already can do, it adds video which is great for anyone who want to connect cameras around their home, or make video calls with others who have the product.
The dimensions are 7.4″ x 7.4″ x 3.5″ and it weighs 41 oz. (or about 2.5 pounds).
The Amazon Spot is to the Amazon Echo Show as the Amazon Dot is to the Echo. It is a smaller version that has a single speaker as opposed to the dual speakers, but still plays video from Amazon Video, streams your music, and makes free audio calls.
Instead of asking about the weather, the Amazon Spot allows you to see the weather. Many users put this in their bedrooms and use the Spot as an alarm clock that can also play their music. In fact, the Spot has the full range of Alexa’s capabilities, like managing your calendar and allowing you to order products from Amazon.
The dimensions are 4.1″ x 3.8″ x 3.6″ and it weighs 14.8 oz. (just under 1 pound).
Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap vs Show: Final Thoughts
While each Amazon product is useful and has merit, very few homes would need all of the products. In our experience, the best way to make your smart home an “Alexa” smart home is by having either an Echo, Tap, or Show in the room you spend the most time (like kitchen or living room), and scatter a few Dots or Spots around where you or your family also spend time (like bedrooms or home offices). This allows you to play music all over the house without needing Bluetooth speakers set up, and also allows you to communicate with your third-party devices from anywhere in your home (without needed to use your phone or go to a room within range of one of your Amazon products).
Ultimately, they are all great products that do pretty much the same thing. Deciding which products are right for you comes down to budget, but the more important question should be “how many” instead of “which one.” Click here if you are interested in how Alexa compares to Google Home or Apple Homepod.