Although there are now many smart speakers that support Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, the best experience is probably only possible with an Amazon Echo speaker. The full functionality of Alexa is reserved for Echo Smart speakers, which are available in different shapes and sizes at different prices, from the affordable Echo Dot series to the high-end Echo Link devices.
Amazon recently launched two new Echo speakers in India – Echo (3rd generation) and Echo Dot (3rd generation) With Clock. Price at Rs. 9,999 and Rs. These new devices are updated versions of the previous models to which new functions have been added. In our test, we examine what is different about these two devices.
Amazon Echo (3rd generation) design and specifications
Starting with the larger Echo (3rd generation), things are a little different and are still very familiar. The new version is larger than the 2nd generation Echo and corresponds in size, design and most technical data to the larger Echo Plus (2nd generation). The device has a 3-inch woofer, an 8-inch tweeter and Dolby tuning – just like the Echo Plus. Basically, you get the same audio performance as the Rs. 14,999 Echo Plus, but for Rs. 5,000 less.
There is one difference between Echo (3rd generation) and Echo Plus (2nd generation): the latter has an integrated ZigBee smart home hub, which comes in handy when you want to use your Echo for home automation. If this is not important to you, the newer echo is not a problem. Users upgrading from an older Echo will notice a difference in sound quality.
The top of the speaker has four standard buttons – two for volume, one for muting the microphones, and an action button that you can use to activate Alexa, among other things, without using the wake-up word. There is also a light ring that lights up for various functions. The outside of the speaker is covered with fabric and available in four colors: black, white, blue and gray. It's basically the same well-known echo experience, but with the promise of better sound at a more attractive price.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation) With watch design and technical data
The smaller Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation) with clock is largely the same size as the Echo Dot (3rd generation). As the name suggests, there is a big difference here – the digital clock display on the front of the device. The variant with the clock is only available in one color – white – and has an LED display that shows classic digital numbers.
After setup, the device displays the time and can also be used to display the outside temperature, the timer status and the volume level when setting. This changes depending on the context, depending on how you interact with the device. For example, if you ask Alexa to set a timer, the display shows the timer countdown.
The brightness of the display can be adjusted via the Alexa app on your smartphone. However, it can also be set to automatically adapt to the ambient light. The display doesn't do much, but it does make the device more useful when placed on the bed, even when it's not actively used as a speaker or for voice commands. It is set at Rs. 1,000 more than the variant without a watch, but we believe that the additional functions of the display are fully worthwhile.
Like the Echo Dot (3rd generation), the Echo Dot With Clock has a single 1.6-inch full-range speaker driver as well as the same familiar 4-button control panel and the same light ring. If you use the Echo Dot With Clock as an alarm clock on the bed, a tap on the top will turn off the alarm while you need to press the action button to turn it off.
Amazon Echo (3rd generation) performance
Compared to the Echo devices of the previous generation, the Echo (3rd generation) is an important step in terms of audio functions. It's bigger, has a special woofer and tweeter, and can get a lot louder. However, this is by no means a new sound experience, and we found that the audio quality largely corresponds to that which we have already experienced with the Echo Plus (2nd generation).
The speaker can get quite loud and is mainly driven by the large woofer, which results in a powerful, aggressive sound with strong bass. It is more than sufficient for a large room, and the sound quality is sufficient to listen easily. We heard music with streaming content and a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and found that the sound quality is adequate in both cases.
When we heard Netsky's Love Has Gone, we liked the drive and the attack, but the experience was certainly not comparable to using a proper two-channel cable set for the same price, or even what we did with some decent high-end wireless speakers saw the Ultimate Ears Boom 3. This is still a single-box speaker at the end of the day, and the soundstage was a bit narrow as a result. You can set up two Echo speakers to work together for a wider stereo sound, although we couldn't test this ourselves.
The sound was tuned slightly to the vocals, as the Echo is an intelligent speaker and Alexa has to respond to commands for most of its functionality. As a result, we felt the mids were a little raised, although the ups and downs still sounded powerful. The microphones were pretty good at clearly picking up voice commands from anywhere in a room, and Alexa continues to improve on her skills and responses.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation) with clock performance
The sound of the Smaller Echo Dot (3rd generation) with clock is exactly the same as that of the variant without clock. It is of course much quieter than the larger Echo (3rd generation) and works well in small rooms or when you are in close proximity to the speaker. That said, it is particularly loud for a device of this size and is good for personal listening when it comes to volume.
The quality is comparable to that of a small wireless speaker like the Sony SRS-XB12. We sometimes found our music boring and there weren't many details to be heard. However, since it is an Alexa-enabled smart speaker with all the functions of the voice assistant, the sound quality has proven to be acceptable for the offer. Note, however, that this device does not have a battery and therefore does not have portability due to competing options.
The device could easily receive voice commands when we were nearby, but even if we were about a meter from the Echo Dot, our chances of getting a response from the device were reduced.
Although these are technically new products, Amazon Echo (3rd generation) and Echo Dot (3rd generation) With Clock do not differ fundamentally from what has been available for some time. The larger Echo offers the same features as the Echo Plus (no hub for home automation) at a lower price, while the smaller device has a digital clock on the front. While the Echo speaker (3rd generation) does what it is supposed to, the Echo Show 5 is, in our opinion, a cheaper offer thanks to its screen. Of course, the Echo (3rd generation) sounds better than the Echo Show 5 if the sound quality is a higher priority for you.
In our opinion, the cheaper Echo Dot With Clock is definitely worth buying compared to the regular Echo Dot (3rd generation). We found the watch very useful and definitely worth the extra Rs. 1,000. While these new Echo devices are still not the best-sounding speakers in their price range, they are among the most versatile thanks to Alexa’s ever-expanding capabilities.