Alexa seems to be everywhere. Since early 2019, Alexa is on (and counts) 100 million devices around the world, has over 15,000 "abilities" and is probably the first name you think of when you think of a digital assistant (which is really some) ) bad news for Siri).
If you have not tried Alexa yet, you might want to pick up one of Amazon's many echo devices or the growing number of other manufacturers' Alexa-ready speakers. At this point in time, there are a number of options that all do slightly different things and give Alexa some other skills. Here are the differences between them and why you might choose one.
If you want a speaker
If you want the main thing of an Alexa device is a loud, clear speaker for playing music and podcasts. You have many options. For most households, the Amazon Echo (second generation, pictured above) is the way to go. The echo is designed to be an intelligent speaker, and before Alexa knew all sorts of other things, the echo was an excellent speaker for listening to music.
Now in its second replay, the Echo is still not the best speaker you can buy (though it's now a lot cheaper than the $ 180 predecessor at $ 100). It's hard to be much better at this price, but spending a bit more is wise if you're looking for pure sound quality. It's not an echo, but the Sonos One has Alexa voice recognition and sounds great for $ 199.
The Amazon Echo Dot (third generation, pictured above) is a smaller, cheaper, but no less intelligent device. The latest version has an improved design, it can be combined for a surprisingly intense experience and, above all, it is really cheap. It costs $ 49, but is usually found for less. Amazon and other retailers often offer a $ 50 advertising campaign for this model for $ 50.
If you already own speakers you like, Amazon Echo Input will make them smarter without incurring additional costs. For a maximum of $ 35 (it's usually discounted), the connection is made via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable, and the built-in microphone gives it similar capabilities as an Amazon Echo.
No matter what you buy, a speaker Alexa always listens to receiving orders, answering questions, and serving one of thousands of skills so you can read the weather or the news or call a taxi. It can also use Alexa's call and messaging system, which lets you send voice messages to some of the other Echo devices.
If you want a screen
Sometimes you actually want to read the news, watch a video, or view the ingredients in a recipe. There is the Echo Show (Second-Gen).
The Echo Show picks up Alexa's usual echoing approach and tries to give everything a simple interface, so you can also look at the information it contains. This is especially useful in situations where there is much to see, such as in your calendar, detailed weather information or instructions.
There are new things for which the screen can be used. It is able to play YouTube (although it's a haunt between Amazon and Google) and Amazon Prime videos. If you know someone with an echo show or other device running the Alexa app, you can chat with them in the video chat. Like the traditional echo, Alexa always listens to orders.
As you might expect, the Echo Show is priced at $ 229 more than any other echo, though this is not the only option if you're looking for an echo with a display. Amazon's Echo Spot is a spherical, intelligent screen that's shaped like a bedside alarm and has almost all the features of the show – camera and all. It's also cheaper for $ 129. There are compromises here, but none are unexpected. Compared to the larger show, the smaller screen and audio performance of the spot coincide with the lower price.
If you want something different
Fortunately, Amazon allows other companies to incorporate Alexa's products. So if you're interested in echoing devices but do not think they're perfect for you, there are many other places to look. Here are some of them:
- Lenovo Smart Tabs, Android tablets that effectively turn into an echo show in the dock
- Amazon Echo Auto, an echo in the car designed to enhance experience with far-field microphones, What Your Phone Can Provide
- Big Mouth Billy Bass, an animatronic fish brought to life when you sway and shake Alexa with an Amazon echo while performing music on Amazon Music
. Updated on: Thursday, January 24: The Alexa ecosystem for hardware has changed quite a bit, so we've updated our buy recommendations based on the currently available offering.