If you are in the market for a smart speaker, you may be debating the merits of the Amazon Echo versus the Amazon Echo Dot. There are actually three different models – the Echo itself, the Dot, and the Amazon Tap. However, the Tap is not available anywhere outside the United States and doesn’t serve much of a purpose.
Amazon Echo vs Echo Dot
This is an interesting dilemma, mainly because Amazon has heavily marketed both of these devices, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut way of knowing which is the superior. Here are some immediate pros and cons that jump out:
- Integrated speaker
- Sleek design
- All-in-one design
- Expensive at $150 (£150)
- Not very discreet
- Cheaper at $50 (£50)
- Easily hidden away
- Works with any speakers you already own
- Requires three cables
- Speaker is poor quality
On the face of it, it seems like a straight choice – you can choose to pay more for the all-in-one sleek design, or you can pay less for the smaller, more versatile model and, for the most part, that is true. However, there are some other factors to consider before you leap in and buy one.
Is the Echo Dot Just a Small Amazon Echo?
The answer to this is ‘yes and no’. The voice recognition and the services it provides is exactly the same on the Echo as on the Echo Dot. This is a very important point, as it means that by paying the extra $100, you are only really gaining the benefit of the speaker and design. There is no increase in performance.
The speaker in the full-sized Echo is very competent, whereas the small built-in speaker in the Dot doesn’t compare – unlike some other smaller speakers that can more than hold their own against larger counterparts.
In conclusion, with the computational power being the same in both models, it should be remembered that the Dot offers essentially just the recognition section, and that was all it was really intended to do.
What Do I Need to Make an Echo Dot as Good as an Echo?
This is where things get really interesting. If you have $150 burning a hole in your pocket, you don’t know which model to get and design isn’t really an issue for you, then there are a couple of points to consider when choosing between the models.
If you buy the Echo Dot, you are going to need a speaker to go with it. End of story. This could be one that you already own, but the issue is, to feel the full effects of the Echo software, you need it operating 24/7, which means whichever speaker you choose will become purely dedicated to your Dot. This makes it a good idea to get yourself a dedicated speaker at the same time as you buy the device. The good news is that you can find a small speaker that packs a huge punch for not very much money. The Anker SoundCore, for example, is only $35, but according to many audiophiles has the same sound quality as the Echo’s built-in speaker.
Cables Cables Cables
The main downside to buying an Echo Dot and speaker combo is the number of cables that you need to go with them. Whereas the Echo has just one power cable serving the whole device, for the Dot and speaker you will need two power cables as well as an Aux lead connecting the two. This can be quite unsightly if you want to have your Echo Dot somewhere visible, and can also be a bit of a pain if you already have 100 different cables doing different things in the vicinity.
However, one solution is to connect the Echo Dot wirelessly to a Bluetooth speaker, getting rid of the need for one of these leads, and showing off the device’s versatility.
Usually, the issue with running two pieces of hardware in this manner is that you need to find room to accommodate two plugs. As most sockets have a maximum of two outputs, you would imagine you would need to dig out a multi-plug adapter to accommodate it near your other equipment, taking up more room and cluttering up space. The good news though, is that the Echo Dot (and most likely the speaker too) is micro USB charged. This means that you actually only need have a USB port handy, and don’t require a full array of socket extenders.
Ultimately, the debate over which of these devices to get comes down to what you want from your Echo. If you want a sleek and all-in-one design and are willing to pay the extra for the Echo, then, by all means, do it. You won’t regret it.
However, if you are more conscious of the price, the Echo Dot is the better option. As long as you provide yourself with a good enough speaker and don’t mind the cables, the Dot can do everything the Echo can and more.
Well, another benefit of the Echo Dot and speaker setup is that you can have the Dot itself sit discreetly on your desk or table top, while the speaker itself needn’t be anywhere in sight. You could connect the two via Bluetooth so they can be on opposite sides of the room, as long as you find a position from which Alexa can hear you and you can also hear the speakers clearly.
So, the Dot definitely has its benefits, but the main one is the price. For example, you would be able to buy TWO Echo Dots, a powerful Bluetooth speaker and a multi-USB port, all for $5 less than the cost of a single Echo.
If you don’t mind using two power cables, or having the speaker separate from the dot, then you should definitely get the Dot instead of the full Echo. It’s way cheaper, and a lot more versatile, it just doesn’t look as good – but are the looks worth $100?
You can also read about what’s in store with the new Amazon Echo, which is set for launch in the near future!