Electronics

Which Alexa Is The Best? The Big Comparison

A lot has happened since Amazon introduced the first Alexa speaker in 2016. Amazon now offers nine models in the Echo series for a wide range of needs. In addition, other manufacturers such as Sonos have also integrated the Alexa voice assistant into their speakers. There is not really a best Alexa, because the Alexa speakers have differences.

The Amazon Echo speakers alone are divided into the categories smart speakers, smart speakers with display and Alexa for retrofitting existing devices. Third-party providers like Sonos, Bose, Gigaset and Ultimate Ears offer even more device categories. In this comparison, I will give you an overview of which Alexa speaker is best suited for which usage scenario.

Alexa always has the same range of functions

When looking for your Alexa speaker, the aim is to find a device that best suits you in terms of sound and other features such as a display or special connections. Since Alexa works entirely in the cloud, affordable speakers respond just as quickly and reliably as more expensive models. This is because the built-in electronics and computing power is not important.

Alexa’s range of functions is also always identical. Only functions that require a display, such as showing videos, are of course reserved for devices with a display. Some features are only available on Amazon-owned devices, at least at the moment. These include Alexa voice calls and the possibility of pairing several devices and creating a multi-room music system.

The 4th generation of Alexa speakers in the Amazon Echo comparison

The latest version of the popular Amazon Echo speakers has been available since 22 October. The fourth generation of Alexa speakers comes, both as a classic Echo and as a Dot. The main innovation is in the design. Both Amazon products now come in the round Spheres box style with four haptic buttons on the top. The Echo Dot, smaller at 100mm in diameter, is perfect to stand on the nightstand and serve as an alarm clock and radio there.

Amazon has even built in a small LED display for this purpose, which shows you the time like digital radio, for example. The Amazon Echo 4 is recommended for larger rooms, as it produces a lot more sound with a diameter of 144mm.

Amazon listens to its customers, but only if they want it. That’s why there is an extra button on both devices that turns off the microphone completely. Another reason to buy the new generation for the Alexa interface is that Amazon has paid strong attention to sustainability in manufacturing. Both the speaker and the packaging of the devices have been made largely from recyclable material. This makes the Echo an eco.

The classic speaker: Echo 4

The classic speaker: Echo 4

The “normal” Echo was Amazon’s first smart speaker. It is now available in the fourth generation. In this edition, Amazon has improved its sound performance. A 76-millimetre woofer and two 20-millimetre tweeters are used. That’s one more tweeter than in the last generation. It now also scans its environment to adapt its sound to it. It’s no problem for the speaker to fill a normal-sized room with sound.

Another new feature of the 4th generation is a Zigbee hub that allows direct control of compatible smart home devices (e.g. Philips Hue) via the Echo speaker. In addition, the new Echo also has a temperature sensor. This was previously reserved for the more expensive Plus models. 

The Echo is the best Alexa in the Amazon Echo comparison if you are looking for a good all-rounder. However, if you are looking for very good music sound, it is better to go for the even better Echo Studio instead. The fourth Echo is available in three colours: Anthracite, blue-grey or white. You can still buy it for 100 euros.

You can buy it here.

Sound for every room: Echo Dot 4 – with and without a clock

With a regular price of around 60 euros, the Echo Dot is Amazon’s cheapest Alexa speaker in comparison. It is now also available in its fourth generation. Like the previous generation, the Echo Dot 4 is also available with and without an LED display. It displays the time, temperature, timer and alarms.

The small speaker was often on sale for 35 euros and occasionally for 20 euros. Due to the small size, you will have to make some small compromises in terms of sound quality. The built-in 41-millimetre speaker is sufficient to have a clear conversation with Alexa or to listen to music at your desk. But it is only suitable to a limited extent for playing music in a room. If you want better sound and features like the Zigbee Hub, the Echo 4 is probably the best Alexa speaker for you. 

However, because of its low price, the Echo Dot can be used as an inventory for the whole house. This way, you can equip little-used rooms or, for example, the bathroom with Alexa. Using the multi-room function, you can also continue listening to a podcast or music when you move to another room. In this respect, the Echo Dot is comparable to the Google Nest Mini. Amazon’s Echo Dot 4 is available with and without a clock in three colour variants: Anthracite, blue-grey or white.

You can buy it here.

For music fans: Echo Studio

For music fans: Echo Studio

For a long time, Amazon’s Alexa speakers could not meet the high demands of music fans. This has changed with the Echo Studio. It sounds much better and excites the experts because it is moderately priced at 200 euros. Amazon accommodates a 51-millimetre midrange speaker, 25-millimetre tweeter and 133-millimetre woofer in the comparatively compact housing. This ensures clarity, depth and room-filling sound. No Alexa speaker has ever performed this well. Because sound perception is also strongly dependent on the environment, Amazon has built-in automatic room sound measurement. This allows the Echo Studio to recognise the acoustic conditions of the room and adjust the playback.

Two Echo Studios can be paired for stereo sound. Connected to a TV, the Alexa speaker can play Dolby Atmos. Like the Echo Plus 2, it also has an integrated smart home hub for ZigBee devices. This eliminates the need for additional switching centres. This makes the Echo Plus 2 the best Alexa speaker without a display from Amazon. However, a normal Echo will also do for those on a smaller budget.

You can buy it here.

Alexa retrofit for the power socket: Echo Flex

If you want to retrofit other speakers with Alexa, it’s best to go for the Echo Flex. This is more or less the successor to the Echo Input, which has been dropped from the range. In addition, it is the first speaker for the socket in the Amazon Echo comparison. Simply plug it directly into the socket and from now on you can use Alexa’s voice control. However, you should not expect any sound miracles from the built-in mini speaker. For music, there is really no way around a speaker that you can connect via Bluetooth or a 3.5 mm plug.

At only 30 euros, the Echo Flex is not only very cheap but also, as its name suggests, very flexible. With Alexa’s drop-in function, for example, you can communicate with friends or family in the house. The USB interface also allows extensions to be connected directly to the Echo Flex. These include a night light, a clock or a smart Wi-Fi socket. However, you have to buy these modules additionally for 15 – 40 euros.

All in all, the Echo Flex is not the best Alexa, but it is a very affordable and flexible option. Only if music is a must-have will you need an additional speaker.

You can buy it here.

Original display: Echo Show 10 (3rd generation)

Original display: Echo Show 10 (3rd generation)

The Echo Show was the first Alexa speaker with a display. In its third generation, it is still the most expensive Echo in Amazon’s portfolio with a price of 250 euros. But for that, you also get a 10.1-inch touchscreen, a 16MP camera and quality speakers that only have to hide behind the Echo Studio. This is ensured by a 76 mm woofer and two 25 mm tweeters. The 3rd generation is thus a strong upgrade over its predecessor.

For the first time, an integrated motor ensures that the display rotates when you move around the room. This is particularly practical when you are cooking recipes, as you can always keep an eye on the recipe without having to readjust the display yourself with greasy fingers. As usual, you can turn the home screen into a digital photo frame by presenting pictures of your choice. The Echo Show 10 also lets you control your smart home conveniently via Alexa using the Zigbee Hub.

The Echo Show 10 is the best Alexa speaker in the Amazon Echo comparison if you want the sound of an Amazon Echo 4 and the largest possible display. If the size of the display and the sound are not so important to you, the smaller siblings Show 5 and Show 8 will also do. 

You can buy it here.

Small display for little money: Echo Show 5

With a regular price of around 90 euros, the Echo Show 5 is not the cheapest Alexa speaker available, but thanks to its small display, it is perfect for beginners who still need to familiarise themselves with voice control. If you want to get a first taste of digital assistants without investing a lot of money, this is the right place to start. If you order the Echo Show 5 directly from Amazon, you will receive it already set up and only need to connect to your Wi-Fi.

The 4-watt speaker is loud enough to fill a medium-sized room with sound and also offers decent bass for its size. You can display a clock on the built-in display, use the device as a digital picture frame, watch videos or display recipes.

You can buy it here.

The golden mean: Echo Show 8

The golden mean: Echo Show 8

Do you think the Echo Show is too big in 10 inches and too small in 5 inches? No problem. Then simply go for the golden mean with the Echo Show 8. At a price of 130 euros, the device offers an 8-inch display. With 1,280 x 800 pixels, it is just as sharp as that of the larger Echo Show and sharper than that of the Echo Show 5.

The sound performance is in the middle. Like all display speakers from Amazon, this one has a camera for video chats that can be covered with a cap when you don’t need it.

You can buy it here.

For smart home fans: Echo Plus 2

With a 76-millimetre woofer and a 20-millimetre tweeter, the Echo Plus 2 no longer offers better sound compared to Amazon’s “normal” Echo. Compared to the 3rd Echo generation, it offered the advantage of a Zigbee hub. Since this is now also part of the normal Amazon Echo, this advantage is no longer available.

In the meantime, the form factor is more in favour of the Echo Plus 2. Those who don’t like the new spherical shape of the Echo and Echo Dot may be more comfortable with the cylindrical design of the Echo Plus 2. In addition, its price is now somewhat lower than that of the regular Echo.

You can buy it here.

For home cinema: Sonos Beam

For home cinema: Sonos Beam

Home cinema fans will get their money’s worth with the Sonos Beam soundbar. Alexa is directly on board and does not have to be paired via an Echo speaker. Practical: With a voice command, you can switch on the Smart TV and soundbar at the same time without a remote control. This is a special feature, but one that Sonos is willing to pay for. At around 400 euros, the TV speaker is definitely no bargain, but it offers great sound for spoken content and music. Moreover, despite the good sound, the soundbar is very compact and fits on small furniture.

There are advantages and disadvantages to buying a smart speaker that is not directly from Amazon. For example, not all Alexa features such as voice calls and multi-room sound are available on non-Amazon products. However, it is practical that Sonos allows you to use Google Assistant on models such as the Beam soundbar in addition to Alexa.

You can buy it here.

Alexa on the go: Ultimate Ears Megablast

In addition to Amazon’s Echo models, there are also Alexa speakers from other manufacturers. Particularly interesting are the Bluetooth speakers Blast and Megablast from Ultimate Ears. With these speakers, you can also use Alexa on the go (assuming a Wi-Fi connection). In the test, they impressed with the great sound for mobile speakers. However, as with all non-Amazon products, you will have to do without features such as voice calls and Multiroom.

The smaller Blast costs between 70 and 90 euros, depending on the colour, while the larger Megablast costs around 130 euros.

You can buy it here.

Alexa for the road trip: ROAV Viva by Anker

With the small Alexa device for the 12-volt connection, you can make your car Alexa-enabled. The Roav Viva from Anker connects to your mobile phone and does not need its own internet connection. You can connect the small device to your car’s music system via a jack plug. The otherwise identical Roav Viva Pro also has an FM transmitter so that you can receive Alexa wirelessly via a selectable radiofrequency. In addition, the Roav Viva offers two USB ports for fast-charging your mobile devices.

You can buy it here.

Conclusion: The best Alexa speaker for every purpose

In the past three years, Amazon has greatly expanded its Echo range and offers Alexa speakers for almost every purpose. Through the Alexa Voice Kit, it is also possible for other manufacturers such as Sonos, Bose, and Ultimate Ears to build Alexa into their devices. Unfortunately, however, they have to do without a few features. Nevertheless, third-party manufacturers offer interesting devices in comparison that stand out from Amazon’s portfolio and in some cases offer practical advantages.

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