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(Pocket-lint) - Amazon has a blistering array of Echo speakers, suiting a full range of prices and uses. From the compact up to larger speakers for a fuller music experience, there's something for everybody. Plus, there's also a selection of devices with displays.

There's also a burgeoning ecosystem of other Amazon smart devices that work in some way with Alexa - such as the Amazon Echo Wall Clock. We're detailing what they all do, what the differences are and highlighting the best prices to keep track of all the deals and sales. 

Which is the best Amazon Echo for you?

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Amazon Echo (4th Gen, 2020)

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  • Dimensions: 144 x 144 x 133mm, 970g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth (A2DP), 3.5mm audio in/out, Zigbee, Sidewalk
  • Audio: 3.0-inch woofer and 2x 0.8-inch tweeter
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

Amazon's latest flagship Echo changes the shape to a sphere and drops the cylinder design of previous models. The fresh look gives the Echo the chance to boost its audio credentials, taking the 3.0-inch woofer from the previous Echo and doubling the 0.8-inch tweeters. That means the speaker can offer stereo without pairing, powered by Dolby and automatically adapting the sound to suit the room you put it in.

On top of that, it's smarter, with a Zigbee controller and Amazon Sidewalk, meaning it will be a better hub than previous Echos at this level, rivalling and surpassing the skills of the old Echo Plus. Like other Echos, it can be paired and grouped, and also works with the Echo Sub.

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Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen, 2020)

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  • Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm, 328g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth, 3.5mm audio out
  • Audio: 1.6-inch speaker
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The 2020 Echo Dot follows the new Echo in moving to a spherical shape, moving on from the puck of the previous few generations. It sticks to the same speaker, however, so expect the audio performance to be similar. It also offers all the same functions, with the only real changes being the addition of greater Wi-Fi bands.

There are neat character designs for kids, and a newly-refreshed version of the Echo Dot with Clock.

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Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen, 2018)

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  • Dimensions: 148 x 99 x 99mm, 780g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth (A2DP), 3.5mm audio in/out, Zigbee
  • Audio: 3.0-inch woofer and 0.8-inch tweeter
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The second-generation version of the Echo Plus appeared in 2018 and takes a shorter, wider stance, with a cloth-covered exterior. The design is essentially exactly the same as the third-gen Echo - as are the speakers inside.

The Echo Plus 2 offers all the Alexa functions that all other Echo devices will offer you, but has a built-in Zigbee controller (like the largest Echo Show and the fourth-gen Echo), meaning you can directly connect to and control compatible smart home devices. It's a great all-rounder, but given the performance is now matched by the new Echo, you have to really need that Zigbee controller to justify the extra price.

Also, since this one is now a little long in the tooth, you may have trouble finding it in certain locations.

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Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen, 2018)

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  • Dimensions: 43 x 99 x 99mm, 300g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth, 3.5mm audio out
  • Audio: 1.6-inch speaker 
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The Echo Dot has been amazingly popular and the third generation was redesigned in 2018, ditching the hard plastic to match the Echo. It's a larger diameter than the original model it replaces and that gives space for a 1.6-inch speaker.

The Echo Dot is a great standalone Alexa device, well equipped to converse with you and while it's not really designed as a music device, it will give you great overall sound. It can also be connected to another speaker via 3.5mm cable if you wish.

There's also a version with a LED clock behind the cloth.

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Amazon Echo Studio (2019)

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  • Dimensions: 206 x 175 x 175mm, 3.5kg
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth (A2DP), 3.5mm audio in/out, Zigbee
  • Audio: 3x 2.0-inch midrange, 1.0-inch tweeter, 5.25-inch woofer, Dolby Atmos, MPEG-H
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The Echo Studio is the top dog for audio in the Echo range, expanding into a bigger unit designed to give much richer sound.

It supports the Amazon Music HD service, as well as offering support for Dolby Atmos and 3D formats from MPEG-H, like Sony 360 Reality Audio. Not only is this a music master, but it can also handle your TV audio and is compatible with wireless connections to Fire TV devices. It can be stereo paired, too.

At its heart, though, this is still an Alexa device, capable of all the features that Alexa brings, as well as offering a Zigbee controller so it can natively connect to smart home devices and control them. It's great value for money for such a high-performing speaker.

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Amazon Echo Flex

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  • Dimensions: 72 x 67 x 66mm, 166g
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), USB-A (7.5W), 3.5mm audio output, 
  • Audio: Built-in speaker for voice feedback
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

Amazon Echo Flex is the smallest way to get Alexa in your home, plugging right into the wall. It has a speaker and microphone to deliver the Alexa experience, but there's also a 3.5mm socket in case you did want to hook it up to existing speakers.

It also has a USB connection on it which can be used to charge a phone but can also accept accessories, including a motion sensor or a night light. It's a versatile little device and easy addition to any room. Naturally, it's not really designed for playing music due to the small speaker, but if you want voice control or Alexa features without the wires, then the Flex is an interesting choice.

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Amazon Echo Sub

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  • Dimensions: 210 x 210 x 202mm, 4.2kg
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5GHz)
  • Audio: 6-inch down-firing woofer, 100W Class D amplifier
  • Alexa: No

The Amazon Echo Sub is technically an Echo companion, in that it doesn't offer Alexa in its own right; instead, the Echo Sub acts to boost your Echo set-up by adding a dedicated subwoofer. 

The Echo Sub can be paired with one Echo or Echo Plus, but it's ideally suited to a stereo-paired set of Echos, to create a 2.1 system. The only drawback here is that you'll have to use Echos of the same type, so a pair of Echo Plus, for example.

Essentially, if you're an Echo fan and already have one or two Echos, then the Echo Sub is a great upgrade, meaning you'll have a decent music system - and all with Alexa's great voice control.

Amazon smart displays and video devices

Amazon has plenty of screened devices to explore, too. These make the Alexa experience more visual and makes apps, services and interactions much more interactive.

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Amazon Echo Show 15 (2021)

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  • Dimensions: 402 x 252 x 35 mm, 2215g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth A2DP
  • Display: 15.6-inch fullHD (1920 x 1080) touchscreen 
  • Audio: 2x 1.6-inch full-range drivers
  • Camera: 5-megapixel sensor
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

At its 2021 autumn product launch, Amazon made a big deal about technologies that blend into the background and work for you. It's part of its "ambient intelligence" focus, and the key product to lead that charge is the Echo Show 15. Rather than be a bulky speaker or screen that commands space on a shelf, worktop or desk, this is much more subtle and looks like a picture frame. 

It can be mounted in portrait or landscape directly to a wall, or you can have it on a stand. Either way, when its in its standby/background mode, it looks no different to a picture frame. 

The Echo Show 15 can still do pretty much all the stuff Amazon's other screened devices can do, but it does feature a new, more powerful processor and a new, smarter user interface. It will enable you to have shared calendars, sticky notes, reminders and such so it becomes more of a digital, collaborative family hub. 

What's more, the camera can recognise each individual user so that the content on screen changes automatically to fit that individual person's accounts and preferences. 

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Amazon Echo Show 10 (2020)

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  • Dimensions: 251 x 230 x 172mm, 2560g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth A2DP, Zigbee, Sidewalk
  • Display: 10.1-inch touchscreen
  • Audio: 3.0-inch woofer, 2x 1.0-inch tweeters
  • Camera: 13-megapixel sensor
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The 2021 Echo Show 10 is the third generation of the large Echo Show. The big change in this version is the design, with a more substantial speaker base and the screen that's now on a swivel. That means the display can move, to follow you around the room. That's ideal for those who put it in a larger kitchen, for example, and those who don't want to have to physically move it all the time.

The display is the same size, but the speaker arrangement has also expanded over the previous edition. It's now a 2.1 setup, with a dedicated woofer and a pair of tweeters, making for a more robust sound. The downside is the increased cost.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021)

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  • Dimensions: 200.4 x 135.9 x 99.1mm, 1037g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth
  • Display: 8.0-inch touchscreen
  • Audio: 2.0-inch speaker
  • Camera: 13-megapixel sensor
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The Echo Show 8 updated in 2021 is the same size as the 2019 model, but makes a change in the camera department. 

The 13-megapixel camera brings with it a feature that will keep you centred in the shot, so has the potential to boost the video calling experience. 

Otherwise the 8-inch display and range of functions is generally the same as on the 2019 model, offering a great size between the Show 10 and Show 5 - this this model is more powerful for a smoother experience.

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Echo Show 5 (2021)

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  • Dimensions: 148 x 86 x 73mm, 410g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth
  • Display: 5.5-inch touchscreen
  • Audio: 1.65-inch speaker
  • Camera: 2-megapixel sensor
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The big change for the 2021 Echo Show 5 over the 2019 model is that the camera has been updated to 2-megapixels, meaning that it should be better quality on video calls. 

There's a new colour too, but this is essentially the same overall device as the 2019 version - except that it no longer offers the 3.5mm output on the back.

Otherwise, it's the smallest Echo Show and ideal for your bedside.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2019)

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  • Dimensions: 200.4 x 135.9 x 99.1mm, 1037g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth, 3.5mm output
  • Display: 8.0-inch touchscreen
  • Audio: 2.0-inch speaker
  • Camera: 1-megapixel sensor
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The Echo Show 8 slots into the gap between the Echo Show 10 and the Echo Show 5 - but has now been replaced by the 2021 model of the Echo Show 8.

There's a camera on the front - including a cover - so when you're not using it for calling you can protect your privacy.

This model is slightly less powerful than the newer model, so you might prefer to buy the new version - although it does have a 3.5mm output, which the new model doesn't.

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Amazon Echo Show 5 (2019)

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  • Dimensions: 148 x 86 x 73mm, 410g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth, 3.5mm output
  • Display: 5.5-inch touchscreen
  • Audio: 1.65-inch speaker
  • Camera: 1-megapixel sensor
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The Echo Show 5 gets its name from the 5.5-inch display and is the smallest Echo Show model. It has now been updated by the 2021 model, which has an updated camera.

However, it's also significantly cheaper and way better value than the main Echo Show. There are some compromises in camera and sound quality, although it provides sound good enough for most small to medium-sized rooms.

It also has a 3.5mm output, which the new model doesn't.

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Amazon Echo Spot

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  • Dimensions: 32 x 84 x 84mm, 163g
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5GHz) and Bluetooth (A2DP), 3.5mm audio output
  • Display: 2.5-inch round touchscreen
  • Audio: 1.4-inch speaker
  • Alexa: Yes (Always-on/always-listening/voice-activated)

The Amazon Echo Spot is what you'd get if you cross the Echo Show with the old Echo Dot. It's a compact Echo to sit beside your bed for alarms. It has a small 2.5-inch screen, which can be used for basic tasks and skills, like music, but it does a lot more. Like the Echo Show, it can be used to make video calls, with a front camera.

It basically offers the same functions as the Echo Show but in a much smaller form factor. It can also connect to your Bluetooth speakers, or via a 3.5mm cable.

Which Echo should you buy?

When it comes to the Echo speakers, the newest 2020 Echo (4th Gen) is the model to get. The latest Echo is the smartest and best sounding - and the older Echo models aren't widely available anymore.

If music is what's important to you, then adding the Echo Sub will boost the experience, adding low range skills - so this is also great as an upgrade option in the future. Stereo pairing then makes for a great 2.1 system.

The Echo Plus is now largely redundant, as the smart home controller is now available on the fourth-gen Echo, too. However, it retains that cylindrical design, if that's what you prefer.

The Echo Studio is in a whole other league, by far the most ambitious speaker from an audio point of view really boosting the quality - but also offering Dolby Atmos and immersive audio when partnered with your Fire TV. It can also be stereo paired, which is a formidable setup, but might be a little large for some people.

Echo Dot is ideal to extend Alexa to other rooms of the house where you don't have an Echo, so if you've set up a voice-controlled smart home, Echo Dot makes it easy to always be in voice range. It's also a great bedside or small room device, as the audio performance is surprisingly good. The Echo Flex will subtly plug into the wall and offer voice controls - so, if it's just the home control via voice that you want, the Flex is perfect.

The Echo Show range takes things in a different direction. It's more expensive, but it gives you video calling and a display for more interactive returns. If you know someone else with an Echo Show, it's a natural choice to save you from needing to use Skype on your laptop. Echo Show 10 also offers a Zigbee controller, so has all the smart home advantages, as well as offering Sidewalk.

Show 5 and Show 8 offer smaller display options, both offering plenty of interactive fun, but not quite as capable as the 10-inch model. We'd pick the Show 5 over the Echo Spot for its better sound and more conventional and useful display, although, if it's a bedside companion you want, the Echo Dot with Clock is a great option.

Echo Show 15 is in a world of its own here, and is the only one that really resembles something you'd stick up on your wall. It's a smart screen and control hub that looks like a picture frame, and can be used as one. 

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Cam Bunton. Originally published on 3 March 2016.