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Best Amazon Echo 2023: Find your perfect smart speaker

From a solitary speaker at launch to an incredible amount of devices, the Amazon Echo isn’t just a product but a full range.

That range stretches from traditional smart speakers to smart displays and even devices designed to go in your car. That’s great news for choice, but bad news if you’re trying to work out which device to buy. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

We have reviewed every single Echo device since the speakers came out, so we know which ones we’d buy and which ones we’d avoid. In this guide, we’ll help you make the right decision for your needs, so that you can find the perfect smart speaker (or display) for your needs.

At a glance

How we test

Find out more about how we test Amazon Echo speakers

All Amazon Echo speakers are capable of the same core actions, as they’re powered by Alexa in the cloud. It’s how they deliver the results that count, and that’s what we test.

We speak to all smart speakers in a variety of locations and with differing amounts of background noise, to see how well the microphones work.

To test audio quality, we put all of our speakers through the same playlist, listening to how they sound with different genres. We test at different sound levels, too, so we can see how sound quality changes as the volume goes up.

For smart displays, we test using video from Netflix and Prime Video, plus we make video calls to see what the webcam is capable of.

All smart speakers ar connected to a range of smart devices, and we test the ability to control them with voice or, in the case of the Show devices, on-screen controls

Amazon Echo (4th Generation)

The best overall smart speaker
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Pros

  • Improved sound
  • Same price as the previous model
  • Zigbee hub
  • Looks fantastic

Cons

  • Zigbee hub not compatible with all devices

For the latest iteration of its smart speaker, Amazon went back to the drawing board. Rather than being a tall cylinder, the Amazon Echo (4th Generation) is a large ball. It’s a good choice on Amazon’s part, as this smart speaker doesn’t look as techy as its predecessors, and it is built to fit into your home. There’s now a wider choice of colours, too, with charcoal, glacier white and twilight blue to choose from.

On top, Amazon has provided the same set of physical controls that most Echo speakers have: a mute button to stop Alexa listening, an activation button (for when you don’t want to say the wake word), and volume controls.

The status light has been moved from the top of the speaker to the bottom, which is a good choice. When the Echo (4th Generation) responds or shows a notification, the light shines down onto a table and doesn’t light up the room in the same way that previous generations did.

A new power-saving mode is designed to cut energy use while the device isn’t in use, but it’s restrictive as it doesn’t work if you have Spotify linked or if there are notifications waiting.

This model has a Zigbee hub built-in, something that had been restricted to the Echo Plus speakers before. With this, you can add smart devices, such as smart lights, directly to Alexa without the need for an extra hub. It’s not that useful: not all Zigbee devices are compatible, such as Hue light switches, and you usually get more control by using the native app. For example, Philips Hue gives more control in the app than Alexa does if you connect the bulbs directly to the Echo speaker.

Two 0.8-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer make the Echo (4th Generation) sound pretty good. In fact, the sound quality is such a step up that we no longer hankered for a better audio system. Sure, there are better-sounding smart speakers, such as the Sonos One, but these cost a lot more. What you get here is balance and poise at a great price.

Given the price, the Amazon Echo (4th Generation) is the best overall Alexa-powered smart speaker.

Full review: Amazon Echo (4th Generation)

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Generation)

The best overall smart display
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Pros

  • Great value
  • Powerful audio
  • Excellent price
  • Clever new camera

Cons

  • Can only use camera view when it’s light

If it’s a value you’re after then the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Generation) is the best overall smart display.

With many of the features of its bigger and more expensive stablemates, but at a fraction of the price, this model strikes the perfect balance between size, features, quality and price.

This newer model looks very similar to the previous edition, with just a couple of very minor tweaks: the camera hole is square, not round, and there’s no 3.5mm audio output (not a huge loss). Again, the speaker is available in charcoal or glacier white, but there’s no funky blue version as with the new standard Echo.

On top, there’s the standard button layout for an Echo Show: volume controls, a mute button that turns off Alexa and a camera privacy slider.

Amazon has upgraded the camera to the 13-megapixel version that’s used on the Echo Show 10. There’s no moving base here, but the camera can zoom, pan and track you automatically while on a video call. It’s a feature that works brilliantly, keeping you (or a family group) constantly in frame without you having to do anything.

You can also use the camera to keep tabs on your home, viewing the live feed. Of course, this does assume that you’ve left the Echo Show 8 pointing somewhere useful. There’s no recording option for the camera feed, so don’t treat it as a security camera replacement, particularly as you can’t see anything when it’s dark due to the lack of IR.

Over the generations, Amazon has tweaked the Echo Show interface. It displays a clock by default, but also shows upcoming appointments, news headlines and recently played music. Use the touch interface and you can dive into smart home control and communication bypassing having to speak at all.

The main benefit of the screen remains: it delivers more information than a voice-only reply. Ask Alexa about the weather today, and the screen also shows the info on the screen, with the option to swipe to view more information throughout the day. Control a smart device, such as turning on a light, and you get on-screen controls to tweak your action, such as adjusting brightness. And, you can view live feeds from compatible video cameras. In many ways, the Echo Show devices provide the ultimate version of Alexa.

Sound quality here is also brilliant. There are two 2-inch drivers and a passive radiator for bass. They combine to make the Echo Show 8 sound great: it’s loud and clear, and perfect for watching videos or listening to music. There’s a touch of tinniness at the high end, but overall this is an energetic and fun smart display.

Small enough to fit almost anywhere, yet with an 8-inch screen that’s big enough to make the interface clear and easy enough to read, the Echo Show 8 (2nd Generation) is excellent value and the best overall smart display.

Full review: Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Generation)

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation)

The best budget smart speaker
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Pros

  • Improved audio
  • Looks great
  • Improved tap controls

Cons

  • No 3.5mm audio output

The best overall budget smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) is a great choice for those that want a smaller device around the house and aren’t so bothered by music playback. That said, this latest version has an audio upgrade that makes it a far better choice than its predecessor.

Externally, the Echo Dot looks like the bigger Echo, although here the spherical speaker is more baseball-sized. This is the same design that Amazon has used since the Echo Dot (4th Generation). It comes in a choice of three colours: charcoal, deep sea blue and glacier white. Plus, pay an extra £10 and you can get the Echo Dot with Clock (5th Generation), which is physically the same but it has an integrated LCD screen that shows the time. That makes the Dot with Clock a great choice for a bedside table.

As with the last generation, the Echo Dot has its light ring relocated to the bottom of the speaker. Shining down, we found it less intrusive than the upwards firing lights of the previous model.

On top, the Echo Dot has the same button layout as the other Echo smart speakers: volume controls, mute button and activation button. Of course, it can do the same things as all of the other smart speakers, as it’s connected to Alexa in the cloud.

As with the big Echo, there’s the new power-saving mode, which cuts energy use while the speaker’s not being used. This mode has been improved, so it now works the majority of the time.

Sound quality used to be a big weakness of the Echo Dot range, but here things are better. Amazon has upgraded the speaker from a 1.6-inch driver to a 1.73-inch front firing driver. This now delivers a semblance of bass and more powerful audio to the point that the Echo Dot is now a decent budget music player. It lacks the clarity and high-end response of its big brother, but for casual listening, this is a great music player.

There’s now no 3.5mm audio output on this speaker. We didn’t miss it and, if you want an Echo device to plug into external speakers, the Echo Flex is a cheaper alternative.

It’s hard to beat the Echo Dot (5th Generation) for price, and it’s a great budget smart speaker with improved audio. If you do have the Echo Dot (4th Generation) there’s not much reason to upgrade, though.

Full review: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)

Full review: Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Generation)

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Amazon Echo Dot Kids (5th generation)

The best smart speaker for kids
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Pros

  • Excellent guarantee
  • Funky new designs
  • Improved audio

Cons

  • 3.5mm audio jack has been removed

The Amazon Echo Dot Kids (5th generation) takes the standard Echo Dot (5th generation), which is listed above, and gives it a cute makeover. This year, the speaker is available as an owl or a dragon; last generation it was a tiger or panda.

While the makeover alone may be enough to convince some, it’s what you get extra that really matters and justifies the extra £10 cost. First, the speaker comes pre-configured for parental controls. With these, you can lock down what content your kids can use, restrict music with explicitly lyrics and impose time limits. Voice purchasing is also turned off.

You can also turn off smart home control, although we wish this feature was a bit more granular so that children could control devices in their rooms. Similarly, communication can be disabled or enabled, but we’d like the option for kids’ speakers to receive broadcast messages but not be allowed to make them.

You also get a two-year worry free guarantee: if your child breaks the speaker in any way, Amazon will replace it immediately. And, there’s a year’s subscription to Kids+, which gives you extra books, Alexa Skills and content; Kids+ also brings additional apps, videos and books to other Amazon devices, including the Kindle and Fire tablets.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual, as this Kids edition acts and sounds exactly the same as the standard Echo Dot. If you’ve got kids in the house, particularly younger ones, this is a great way to let them play with Alexa without worrying about what they’re doing. However, you can turn on parental controls on existing regular Echo Dot, Echo and Echo Plus speakers, so if you’ve got an older speaker, you can simply make it kid friendly at no extra cost.

Full review: Amazon Echo Dot Kids (5th Generation)

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation)

The best smart display for the full Amazon Alexa experience
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Pros

Cons

Rather than just rehashing the old design, the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation) is a very different product from its predecessor. The main change is the new design, with the 10-inch screen floating on a large round base.

This is the motorised base, which lets the Echo move a full 360-degrees, which it does automatically. Once the Echo Show 10 has been configured for its home position, activating Alexa does two things: first, the microphones work out roughly where you are and start to move the screen, then the camera locks onto you and tracks you, keeping the screen facing you.

It sounds like a silly upgrade, but it’s really useful, particularly in spaces where you’re likely to be more mobile, such as a kitchen. As you walk around cooking, anything you ask Alexa can always clearly be seen on screen, whether that’s a weather report or a video for a recipe that you’re following.

This fancy movement mode is also useful for video calls. Combined with the 13MP camera, the Echo Show 10 can automatically track and follow you, zooming in to keep you (or a group of you) perfectly in frame. It’s a very clever trick.

It’s not a perfect system, though. The screen can take a long time to return to its home position, and it can sometimes keep moving when it really doesn’t need to. For the most part, Amazon does get things right.

The 10-inch screen is big enough to watch videos on, with support for Netflix and Amazon Prime video, although we suggest watching films and programmes that don’t particularly benefit from a big screen.

Sound quality is also excellent, with dual 1-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer. There’s attack and presence here, with the Echo Show 10 delivering great audio, whether you’re listening to music or watching a film

This model has the standard set of controls: volume, mute and a camera privacy slider. It also gives you the same interface as the other Show displays: Alexa shows you additional information on-screen, such as the current weather or controls to tweak a smart home command.

An incredible bit of engineering, the Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation) has a moving screen that’s genuinely useful. It delivers, quite possibly, the best overall Alexa experience, although that comes at a price, and the cheaper Echo Show 8 is far better value.

Full review: Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation)

Reviewer: David Ludlow

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FAQs

Is Alexa the same on all Echo smart speakers?

Yes. Alexa works in the cloud, so all smart speakers effectively work in the same way, with Alexa providing the same results. That also means that all skills work on all devices. The only differences are between smart speakers and smart display, where the latter show more information on screen.

What’s the difference between an Echo Show and a normal Echo?

A screen. All Echo Show devices have a smart display, which can be used to stream video from security cameras, play video (Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) as well as displaying more information on-screen, such as upcoming weather or smart home device controls.

Do third-party Alexa speakers have the same features as Amazon’s?

Not quite. While Alexa works in the same way, there are some limitations with third-party speakers: they can’t be put in a group and they don’t work with the communication features.

What is an Echo stereo pair?

If you take two identical Echo speakers, you can put them into a stereo pair, which lets you use one for the left channel and one for the right, boosting audio quality for music.

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Comparison specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Front Camera
IP rating
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Resolution
Driver (s)
Connectivity
Colours
Frequency Range
Voice Assistant
Subwoofer?
Speaker Type
Impedance
Touch Screen
Smart assistants
Special features
App Control
IFTTT
Controls
Power source
Networking
Number of speakers
Output
Microphones

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