The spherical design of the latest Echo is not only aesthetically pleasing but Amazon claims the ball shape of the smart speaker also enables for a better listening experience. Here, Max Wilson road tests the new Echo – Amazon’s 4th generation smart speaker.
Echo is Amazons’ newest contribution to the competitive smart speaker market.
The Echo’s spherical design is stylish and blends nicely into most rooms while providing better audio performance than previous models. Amazon claims this ball shape allows for better acoustic sound and provides more space for the subwoofers to create stronger bass. The Echo is also able to adapt its speakers to any room in order to provide the best listening experience, enhancing the listening experience.
The top half of the speaker is covered in a soft fabric available in dark grey, light blue/grey or white. On top of the sphere, there are buttons for volume and microphone control. Underneath, an LED ring runs around the entire bottom, providing colourful visual feedback to voice commands. It gives off an elegant hue that lights up the surface the speaker is on. The speaker packs a serious punch and can easily fill a large room with limited distortion.
As a smart speaker, the user experience with Amazons’ voice assistant is one of the main selling points. Alexa is able to perform tasks such as provide general information on the weather, make phone calls, access your calendar or reminders, and play music from various streaming services. It is also able to communicate with any other Echo speakers or compatible smart home devices to play music around the whole house or even control lights.
While Alexa is easy enough to use, commands are sometimes not understood and can be a bit clunky. That being said, the microphone is notable as it is able to hear your voice even when the volume is cranked up (a bit freaky). Privacy is an obvious concern with a product that is always listening, but Amazon says the speakers have multiple layers of protection, where users are able to electronically disconnect the microphone and delete voice recordings.
The 4th Echo Dot has the same design change, but its smaller size makes it easier to fit into a cosier room. It also comes with an optional LED clock showing the time, temperature, or alarms, making it ideal for the bedside table. Its lower price-tag also makes it more appealing to people who are new to the smart speaker craze but still want to enjoy smart technology and impressive sound. Alternatively, it is a good addition to a room in order to create a stereo sound.
There is no ‘best’ in the smart speaker market, with each brand providing different features and perks, but the 4th generation Echo is a great option for anyone who favours the Amazon ecosystem and the Alexa assistant.
Both Echo’s have a friendly price tag, with the Echo selling for $149 and the Echo Dot with clock at $99.