Which Amazon Echo Smart Home Hub Is Right For You?
Bone conduction headphones aren’t just novelty items anymore—there’s practically an entire industry based around them. For that reason, many of the world’s leading tech companies are coming out with variations on their original products. Amazon is one such company. They currently offer six variants of the now-world-famous Amazon Echo, which is widely considered to be one of the best—if not the best—types of smart home hub on the market.
Of course, not all Echo devices are the same. Not by a long shot, in fact. The price of various Echo hubs alone should make that obvious (the most expensive Echo costs about $230 USD, whereas the cheapest version only clocks in at around $50). Still, some people are prone to assuming that any smart home hub with the Echo name on it will be more or less equal to the others. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Learning the differences between different models of the Amazon Echo can help you decide which model is best for your home. Below is a quick but comprehensive breakdown of the pros and cons of each device. Study up, and make sure that you purchase a smart home hub that will meet your unique needs.
The Echo Dot
The Echo Dot is the most basic version of the Echo, and by far the cheapest. Still, that doesn’t mean it lacks versatility: the Echo Dot packs almost 25,000 features into a device the size of a hockey puck. It also offers all of the default Alexa services that users have come to know and love, including the ability to read you the weather forecast, deliver traffic reports, and control compatible smart home technology. Of course, not having a screen means that it won’t offer any visual features—and it’s compact size makes it unremarkable in terms of best soundbars quality. Still, for $50 it’s quite a bargain. Buy it if you’re just getting acquainted with smart home products.
The quintessential Echo—let’s call it the Echo Standard—is the still the first hub most people think about when they think about smart hubs, and for good reason. The Echo Standard contains all the features offered by the Echo Dot, and even brings a few extra bells and whistles into the mix like controlling your A/C (as long as you can pair it with a compatible thermostat).
The Echo Standard really demonstrates its $100 value when it comes to playing music though—the speakers are far more powerful than what’s inside of the Echo Dot, and the Echo Standard can even pair with other Echo speakers for multi-room audio. For homeowners with existing smart home gear and a decent amount of space, the original Echo makes an ideal choice.
The Echo Tap
The Echo Tap isn’t so much a smart home hub as it is a way to take Alexa on the go with you. This portable speaker is useful away from home, because it’s the only version of the Echo that comes with a built-in power source instead of needing to be plugged in. If you do lots of travelling in areas with Wi-Fi or want to connect Alexa to your smartphone, the Echo Tap may be an excellent supplement to your existing smart hub.
The Echo Plus
For $150, the Echo Plus is designed to give you control over as many other smart devices as possible. It does so by acting as a direct controller for the entire range of devices that use Zigbee as their IoT protocol. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, here’s the simple-English version: other Amazon Echo hubs can control various smart home devices, but there are often extra steps or intermediary devices involved. The Echo Plus streamlines and simplifies that process, so that you won’t need a third-party hub to connect most of your lights, locks, or other gadgets. Buy it if you want to make operating your smart home as easy and user-friendly as can be.
The Echo Show
Call it gimmicky, but the visual display offered by the Echo Show has convinced a lot of people to spring for its $230 price tag. In addition to an intriguing 7-inch touchscreen, this version of the Echo comes with dual 2-inch Dolby speakers, which offer an attractive upgrade in best soundbar under $200 quality when playing music. Purchase the Echo Show if you’re an audiophile, want a visual or tactile way to control your smart hub, and if you can afford it.
Remember: your smart hub will affect the way you interact with every smart home product you own, so choose it carefully. Use this guide to select the Echo best suited to your needs, so that you can enjoy maximum convenience when using your smart home tech.