2014 was the limelight of Amazon’s ingenuity and innovation, the Amazon Echo. Even after more than three years from its release, the Echo is still considered as one of the best smart speakers for any household in the US.
The release of its compact version, the Echo Dot gave the opportunity for some speakers to adapt the Alexa voice assistant. Having Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their systems transforms their usual audio functionalities into voice-responsive smart speakers.
If you’re wondering about the differences between these two Echo series, let’s make a good comparison between the Amazon Echo and the Echo Dot.
Design and Build
The most obvious difference between the Echo and the Echo Dot is their design and build. Amazon’s Echo is a 9.3-inch cylindrical tower with a diameter of 3.3 inches. The smart speaker’s bottom half has a speaker grille, while the top has a ring of light that illuminates when you say the wake word ‘Alexa.’
You can use the Alexa voice assistant integrated with the Echo smart speakers to manage your audio settings, tell your current time and weather.
The Echo Dot smart speaker is a compact-sized device which resembles a hockey puck. This tiny speaker looks like a top cut-off portion of the Amazon Echo. It has the same diameter but stands at only 1.5 inches tall.
The Echo weighs approximately 1,049 grams while the Echo Dot which is about one-third of the Amazon Echo’s height weighs only about 250 grams.
The Amazon Echo Dot has the same light ring found on the Amazon Echo, which indicates when Alexa is listening. This ring has a twisting wheel that can be used to manage the volume of your audio. There are two function buttons on top which are the microphone off and action buttons.
Both speakers have micro USB port for charging. However, the Echo Dot can connect to an external speaker either by plugging it into its 3.5mm port using an audio cable or connecting via Bluetooth. This feature allows the compact speaker to improve its audio performance.
On the other hand, the Echo is just a standalone smart speaker that can’t be linked to other speakers. But its 2-way active speakers with bass reflex make the Echo loud enough to enjoy music and radio.
Both the Amazon Echo and the Echo Dot contain the same seven omnidirectional far-field microphones that can pick your voice up anywhere inside your house. But there are differences between the audio qualities of the two devices.
Both smart speakers have a built-in microphone, but the Echo’s 360-degree speaker undersized the Echo Dot’s compact size and lower sound quality.
When it comes to the speakers’ audio quality, the Echo provides a decent level of bass and resonance for listening to your favorite tunes. The audio performance of the Echo is enough for an ordinary user’s ear unless you’re a major audiophile.
The Echo Dot has even less when it comes to audio quality. This tiny speaker wasn’t designed to blast out good quality sound. It’s just enough to hear an alarm or acknowledge a command. And because of its limited audio capability, Amazon recommends this speaker be placed at least three feet away from an external speaker.
The Echo Dot works fine for verbal interaction with Alexa, but you can notice the speaker’s tinny sound quality.
When it comes to both speakers’ range of capabilities, the Echo and Echo Dot are pretty much identical.
Both devices get activated by saying the wake words “Alexa,” “Computer,” or “Amazon.” The voice assistant Alexa is intelligent enough to understand and respond to a long list of voice-activated commands. Some of the commonly asked questions that can be answered by Alexa include telling you the current date, time or weather, playing music, and answering silly questions.
Amazon boasts its Echo devices to have more than 130 app integrations which include Uber, Skyscanner, and National Rail.
If your smart home is designed with smart heating and lighting devices, Alexa can act as your personal assistant to help you control your smart home devices with apps like Hive, Netatmo, and Philips Hue.
While the Amazon Echo is created as a single speaker device, the Echo Dot’s audio performance is at its best when connected to an external speaker.
Amazon said that the Echo Dot’s compatibility with other speakers has been tested and certified with some Bluetooth speakers of Bose and Ultimate Ears. Other wireless Bluetooth speakers with 3.5mm audio port and audio cable may connect with the Echo Dot, but you may not get full functionality of the smart speaker.
One of the significant factors when deciding which smart speaker to buy is the smart speaker’s price.
The Amazon Echo originally costs $179 while the Echo Dot is apparently much cheaper, about two times less expensive with a selling price of $99. But remember that the Echo Dot needs an external speaker to function better. So, you may need to include the cost of an external speaker if you don’t have one.
Regardless of their sizes and costs, these Echo devices still have all the same assistant capabilities.
Though these Echo smart speakers have a built-in array of seven omnidirectional microphones, there are instances when the speakers’ responses are inconsistent. Common questions may not be answered correctly. Sometimes, the speakers are confused with similar sounding words which end up with poor or inaccurate responses to commands.
The speakers’ default location is Seattle, which is Amazon’s headquarters. You have to set your current location manually to get more accurate results on a weather forecast and current date and time. Smartphones also need to activate its GPS receivers so that their voice assistants will be able to identify the correct location, time, date, and weather forecast.
Interaction and communication with the Echo are currently available in English and German languages. But Alexa continues to learn better, and Amazon is working to improve their voice assistant’s capabilities.