Amazon Echo

Echo doesn’t belong in this comparison post. But it’s included because thousands of people are searching for Echo comparisons, and I want to set the record straight.

Sound (F):

  • Music sounds thin and flat with no bass. For reference, I tried JBL Charge 3, and UE Boom 2 speakers that are in the $100 range, and those sound better than Echo.
  • You won’t want to use Echo as your primary sound system or play music for extended periods, but it might work in a room you use less frequently.

Design (C+):

  • It’s only six inches tall. That’s significantly smaller, and a notable improvement over the first generation Echo.
  • Echo has changeable fabric covers that hide the unsightly speaker holes.
  • The bright blue indicator light that illuminates when Alexa’s listening is helpful and can be seen from across the room.
  • It’s made of cheap materials and nothing special to look at, but due to its size, it’s easily concealable.

Voice Assistant (B):

  • It responds more efficiently than Siri, even though it can’t do multiple tasks at once or understand pronouns.
  • You can set up multiple voices for personal requests, but it doesn’t work as well as Google’s.
  • The simple wake-up signal “Alexa” is quick and easy.
  • You can create “Routines” that are set phrases to perform multiple tasks at once.

Compatibility (B+):

  • There are over 15,000 different skills in Alexa’s app store, making it the most widely-compatible smart assistant. Alexa will work with almost any smart home device available.
  • You can control Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIN, Gimme Radio, and SiriusXM via Alexa.
  • You can listen to any music service with Bluetooth, but you won’t have voice control.

Software (F):

  • The Alexa app is a disaster. It’s hard to navigate, find skills and set up smart devices.
  • Multiple voice setup doesn’t work well, and the voices you add must be in your “Amazon Prime Household.”

Bonus (F):

  • Amazon doesn’t care about your privacy and will try to hard-sell constantly. Advertisements on Echo are coming, too.
  • I like the simplicity of a one syllable wake word, “Alexa” but there’s a caveat. Because of its simplicity, it produces way more false alarms than “Hey, Google” or “Hey, Siri.” Conversation between individuals or TV audio sets it off a few times per day.