Amazon Echo Review 2020

Amazon Echo’s one of the best smart speakers and hubs, even compared to Google.
High compatibility
Multiple languages
No access to YouTube or Google

Amazon Echo was the first smart speaker on the market, and it remains one of the best. It also doubles as a smart home hub for those dreaming of a connected home.

Let’s walk through Amazon Echo’s features and how it compares to competitors like Google.

Main Amazon Echo smart speaker options
ProductImagePriceLearn More
Echo$99.99View on Amazon
Echo Dot$49.99View on Amazon
Echo Plus$149.99View on Amazon
Echo Spot$129.99View on Amazon
Echo Show$229.99View on Amazon
Echo Studio$199.99View on Amazon

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 07/01/2020 11:50 MST). Offers subject to change.

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Other Echo products
Amazon has some crazy products with Alexa embedded. Like a ring (Echo Loop) or eyeglasses (Echo Frames). And that’s not counting any third-party products that have Alexa built in, such as an Ecobee thermostat.

Amazon Echo price

Echos cost about as much as Google Homes.

Echos and other Alexa-enabled products come in a gamut of prices. The Echo Dot comes in at $49.99, while the standard Echo Show can sell for over $200.*

That’s similar to Google Home/Google Nest prices if you’re looking to compare the two (which, let’s face it, most people are).

*Amazon.com List Prices (as of 07/01/2020 11:50 MST). Offers subject to change.

Amazon Echo equipment

Amazon has endless Echo products and several colors to choose from.

There are lots of compatible Echo devices, way more than we can show in our table. The full array includes the following:

  • Echo
  • Echo Dot
  • Echo Dot Kids Edition
  • Echo Plus
  • Echo Studio
  • Echo Spot
  • Echo Show
  • Echo Show 5
  • Echo Show 8
  • Echo Sub
  • Echo Auto
  • Echo Buds
  • Echo Loop
  • Echo Input
  • Echo Link
  • Echo Link Amp
  • Echo Connect
  • Amazon Tap
  • Echo Frames
  • Echo Flex
  • Echo Glow

In the past, Amazon also sold an Echo Button for game show–style activities. You can’t get those new anymore, but you may be able to find them used.

You can get your Echo speaker in colors such as the following:

  • Charcoal
  • Heather Gray
  • Sandstone
  • Twilight Blue
  • Plum
  • Kids Blue
  • Kids Rainbow
Not every Echo comes in every color.

Not every Echo comes in every color. For instance, only the Echo Dot comes in the plum color, and only the Echo Dot Kids Edition comes in the Kids-labeled colors.

Finally, smart displays. If you’re looking for a product with a smart display, you want an Echo Spot or Echo Show. We’re partial to the Show because the screen’s much bigger and easier to use.

Amazon Echo features

You can get stuff done and have fun with Alexa.

There’s a lot you can do with an Amazon Echo. Let’s walk through some of our favorite features.

Customization

Alexa has a few different celebrity voice options. You can download skills that allow you to chat with Samuel L. Jackson or Gordon Ramsey.

You can also change Alexa’s accent or language. Right now, you can choose from the following seven languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • Spanish

While it’s nice to have multiple options, the Echo language choices are way behind Google Home’s, and Google only has 13. We’d like to see more languages added to the Echo for sure.

You can enable two languages at once.

Happily, a bilingual option for Echo became available in 2019, so at least you can enable two languages at once.

Music

Through your Echo smart speaker, you can listen to the radio or ask Alexa to select random music for you. But if you want to listen to something specific, you need an Amazon Music, Spotify, or Pandora subscription. (Be wary; you might have to cough up monthly fees for these services.)

Communication

Amazon Echo Dot on books

You can use Alexa to call others. If the person you’re calling also has an Echo, the two of you can talk using your smart speakers.

Also, you can send texts through your Echo. Just know that if you’re not an Android user, you’ll have to download a separate Alexa skill.

Plans

Alexa can help you organize your life. Ask her to set timers, add events to your calendars, and remind you of important tasks.

Shopping

Shopping on Amazon is one of the highlights of an Echo. You can say, “Alexa, order colored pencils,” and Alexa will. (If you’re a picky shopper, we don’t recommend this approach since you won’t be able to see your product before you buy.)

Alexa can also tell you when your Amazon packages are due to arrive and if they’ve been delivered.

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Echo notifications
If your Echo’s light ring turns yellow, you have notifications from Amazon. Just ask Alexa to read them to you.

Food

With Alexa, you can get recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, linner, second breakfast, elevensies, teatime, and your midnight snack. You can also have her order the ingredients through Amazon or Whole Foods.

Or you can make things easy on yourself and order food using a skill instead. (Alexa integrates with GrubHub, Domino’s, Starbucks, and Panera Bread, among others.)

Other activities

Alexa’s got a vast amount of games, jokes, riddles, and songs. But to bring out her entertaining side, you have to specifically say, “Alexa, let’s play a game,” or “Alexa, tell me a riddle.” She doesn’t have a random fun mode like Google Assistant’s.

For more detail, check out our guide to having fun with Alexa.

Amazon Echo automation

You can create an entire Alexa-run smart home.

If you want to build an entire smart home that’s compatible with Alexa, that’s not hard. Lots of smart home devices work with an Echo. It’s just a matter of finding them.

Alexa works with some devices from the following product lines:

Amazon Echo installation

An Echo device is easy to install.

Setting up your Echo is relatively easy. Each Echo has its own variation, but you’ll set up each device app with plenty of guidance through the Alexa app.

Recap: Is Amazon Echo good?

The Echo’s still got it.

Even though a gaggle of smart speakers has gone on the market since the Echo’s first introduction, the original smart speaker is still going strong. We recommend it to smart home enthusiasts, especially those who dig Alexa-compatible products.

Amazon Echo FAQ

Should I choose Amazon or Google Home?

Your choice should depend on what you hope to get out of your smart speaker/smart hub.

With Alexa, you get access to Amazon shopping and music. With Google Assistant, you harness the power of the Google search engine and the entertainment of YouTube.

With Alexa, you get quick-and-easy Amazon product compatibility. With Google Assistant, it’s all about Nest and other Google-branded devices.

With Alexa, your speakers will hear you better, but with Google Assistant, you won’t need to use as precise of wording (according to our tests).

Can I change Alexa’s name?

Yes, but you can’t change it to just anything. Your other options are “Amazon,” “Echo,” and “Computer.”

If you want to change the virtual assistant’s name to something fun like Jarvis or Jeeves, that’s not an option right now.

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Alexa mishaps
The name change function is mainly in case you live with someone whose name is Alexa, Alexis, or Vanessa (all names that might trigger Echo’s voice assistant). Watching television shows that feature these names might also set off your Echo.

How is the Echo sound quality?

It varies by device.

The Echo Plus and Echo Studio are specifically designed to have better sound quality than the average Echo. You can also always try adding Amazon Echo Sub to your existing speaker to get a better bass sound. However, the sub is currently unavailable on Amazon, so you’ll have to look at another retailer to get it.

We definitely wouldn’t recommend the Amazon Echo Dot. The sound isn’t bad with Dottie, but it’s too small to have major resonation for a bass line.

Overall, if sound is your main concern, you might want to look at sound-first products like Sonos speakers.

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