• Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)

  • Amazon Echo Show 5

  • Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

  • Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)

  • Amazon Echo Look

  • Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen)

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Echo third-generation
Credit: Amazon

The third-generation Echo is the perfect blend of affordability and versatility.

Best Overall
Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)

We've always loved the Amazon Echo, so we weren't surprised to find that the third-generation model is another great option for anyone looking to bring an Alexa-enabled smart speaker into their homes. It has great sound quality thanks to Dolby audio, a 3-inch woofer, and a 0.8-inch tweeter. And it has an auxiliary input and and output as well as Bluetooth if you want to stream music from another device. The Echo also uses far-field voice recognition so Alexa can hear you even if you're in the next room.

Every Echo speaker has access to the same Alexa skills and features, but we found the third-generation Echo offers a desirable blend of quality performance and value. It doesn't act as a hub for devices that require their own bridge like the Echo Plus, and it may not have a screen like the Show, but there’s still a ridiculous amount of stuff Alexa can do without a camera or display.

The Echo has respectable sound quality all on its own, but pair it with another Echo and an Echo Sub, and you have a 2.1-channel setup with rumbling bass.

Our favorite feature: We love the sound quality of the Echo. It can really fill the room with music while taking up very little space.

The biggest downside: As this isn’t a smart display, it doesn’t have a screen. Echo users miss out on the expanded video capabilities of the Show, but that won’t surprise anyone.

Who should buy it: Those who want Alexa but don’t want the visual distraction of a smart display.

Echo Show 5
Credit: Amazon

The Echo Show 5's minimal design fits beautifully on counters and nightstands.

Best with a Display
Amazon Echo Show 5

The Echo Show 5 is my personal favorite among the Echo lineup. The combination of the small but super useful 5.5-inch screen with a sleek, modern design makes this little smart speaker look just as at home on a bedside table as it does on a home office desk, a living room shelf, or a kitchen counter. The screen displays a customizable clock, but also cycles through customizable information categories to give you insights at a glance.

Considering that the Show 5 has a modest 1.65-inch speaker, the sound quality is not half bad for such a small device. It also gives you the ability to make video calls, which are surprisingly perfect with the small screen. You can also watch video feeds from smart cameras, video baby monitors, and video doorbells. And it can stream TV and movie content from Prime Video, though it's not really designed as a media streaming device.

Our favorite feature: The Echo Show 5’s screen is somehow both compact and easy to read. The small footprint makes it easy to find the perfect spot in your home, but the screen is still easy to read from across the room.

The biggest downside: It has a built-in camera, so if you have privacy concerns this may be a red flag for you. However, you can disable Drop-In calling through the app and also say “Alexa, turn the camera off” to ensure no one is spying on you. You can also cover the camera with a built in shutter.

Who should buy it: Anyone who wants an Alexa speaker with a screen.

Echo Dot Third Generation
Credit: Amazon

The third-generation Dot is more sleek and has a much louder speaker than its predecessors.

Best Entry-Level Echo
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

The Echo Dot is the perfect entry-level smart speaker. It gives you access to all the standard Alexa features at a fraction of the price of its larger siblings. But with the price break, you do have to sacrifice sound quality. There is, however, a 3.5mm input on the back and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can easily connect it to any existing speaker for a boost in sound quality.

Our favorite feature: The price is the key reason to buy an Echo Dot, especially as it goes on sale occasionally for as low as $29.99.

The biggest downside: The small speaker delivers noticeably low-quality audio playback, though this generation presents a major improvement in that area over its predecessors. If you want to use it for music, connect it to an external speaker or go for an Echo instead.

Who should buy it: College students, people on a budget, people who aren't 100% sure if Alexa is right for them, and Echo enthusiasts who want to fill their home for less.

Echo Plus Second Generation
Credit: Amazon

The second-generation Echo Plus has an onboard temperature sensor and a Zigbee hub.

Best for Smart Homes
Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)

The Echo Plus is not just a smart speaker—it also acts as a smart home hub that can connect to some smart gadgets that might otherwise require a separate hub, including Samsung SmartThings smart plugs and Philips Hue lights, among others. While you can tell any Echo, "Alexa, find my devices," to have her scan your network for compatible smart home gadgets, only the Echo Plus can connect to gadgets that are Zigbee compatible. Other Echos will simply not “see” them without a Zigbee hub on the premises.

What this means is that, if you've got SmartThings devices and Hue lights and would rather not manage three separate smart home systems, the Echo Plus can tie everything together and save you a big chunk of change if you haven't yet purchased additional smart hubs. If you've already got the appropriate hubs, the Plus might not be necessary unless you're looking to streamline.

Our favorite feature: The Echo Plus can act as a hub for many popular smart home products.

The biggest downside: It costs about 50% more than the Echo, so if you don't really need the hub functionality (and most folks won't), it's not worth it. But if you’re looking to avoid hub-clutter, it might be a good investment.

Who should buy it: People with lots of smart home gadgets who want to centralize control.

Echo Look
Credit: Amazon

The Echo Look is a unique tool to help people show off their style.

Best for Fashion Enthusiasts
Amazon Echo Look

The Amazon Echo Look is a camera-based Echo device that you can use to compare your outfits, take full-body selfies, and even buy clothes that complement your wardrobe. You can ask Alexa to take your picture in multiple outfits and then use the Look app to compare them. A computer program will analyze the photos and tell you which is the best outfit within about a minute.

While the feedback the Look provides can be marginally helpful, the best feature by far is the app’s ability to show you your outfits side by side and store previous outfits for you to rediscover later. Do keep in mind, however, that the Look is a thinly veiled vehicle for Amazon to promote clothing and fashion products to its users.

Our favorite feature: The app intelligence. Not only can the AI analyze two photos to determine which "looks better" and offer constructive feedback, but it’s smart enough to tell the difference between two different people.

The biggest downside: It doesn’t have the best camera quality, and the built-in flash is not great at color balance.

Who should buy it: Fashion enthusiasts who love showing off their style and occasionally (or frequently) need a second opinion on their outfits.

Echo Show Second Generation
Credit: Amazon

If you plan to use your Echo for streaming shows and video calls, the big screen of the Echo Show is for you.

Best for Video Calling
Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen)

The second-generation Echo Show is perfect for people who want their Echo to be a visual centerpiece. This generation’s speakers are on the side/back of the display, which leaves more room for the crisp, 10.1-inch screen.

The Show’s camera and large screen make it perfect for video calling, which it can perform between Echo devices or via Skype. It can also pull in your favorite shows from streaming services like Prime Video and Hulu, and even the music listening experience is enhanced with cover art and rolling lyrics as the music plays.

Our favorite feature: The display is vibrant and adds something beautiful to just about everything Alexa can do.

The biggest downside: It’s a bit bulky.

Who should buy it: Anyone who wants an Echo with a large screen.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the testers

Samantha Gordon

Samantha Gordon

Managing Editor - Ecommerce

@sam_the_editor

Samantha is an avid writer, editor, and consumer with an oddly deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products, especially stuff that makes life easier. Her personal passions include smart home tech, 3D printing, crafting, cocktails, and cats.

See all of Samantha Gordon's reviews
Sarah Kovac

Sarah Kovac

Editor, Smart Home

@sarahkovac

Sarah Kovac is an award-winning author and smart home editor for Reviewed. Previously, she worked with a multitude of outlets such as Wirecutter, TIME, PCMag, Prevention, The Atlantic, Reviews.com, CNN, GOOD, Upworthy, Mom.me, and SheKnows.

See all of Sarah Kovac's reviews

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