What is Amazon Echo? Which Echo Should I Buy?


The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated home audio speaker system with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Here we answer your Amazon Echo questions and explain what are the various products in our complete guide to Amazon Echo.

Who is Alexa? 

Alexa is the wake word for Amazon Echo. Its digital voice assistant will happily fulfil any of your spoken commands, from setting an alarm to searching the web to answer your burning questions and playing music. Echo is constantly learning, too, adapting to your speech patterns, vocabulary and personal preferences. Amazon says that the company is constantly updating the way Alexa listens and responds and will eventually provide an interface with natural-sounding responses. 

What is Amazon Echo? 

Amazon Echo is a cylindrical home audio speaker that integrates a personal voice assistant named Alexa, very much like Siri, Cortana and Google Now on your phone or tablet. It’s always on and always connected with Wi-Fi allowing it to sit on your home network and access cloud services, and Bluetooth letting you stream music from mobile devices. 

Alexa can handle things like multiple timers and alarms, IFTTT support, integration with Google Calendar, and lets you listen to Audible audiobooks and re-order Prime-eligible items from Amazon. It can even order your favourite takeaway from Just Eat.

Some of those capabilities are built in, while other ‘Skills’ have to be enabled in the Alexa app. They’re like apps which created by developers and some let you control smart home products, including Philips Hue, LIFX, WEMO and Nest devices.

On 27 September 2017 Amazon announced its second-generation Echo, which replaces the older version at the new significantly cheaper price of £89.99. You can pre-order the new Echo today, and it will go on sale on 31 October.

The new Echo has a new shorter and more customisable design, improved sound with Dolby processing, and second-gen far-field technology. Read more about the Echo 2 here.

What is the Echo Show?

It’s an Echo with a screen and a camera as well as a ‘room-filling speaker’. It’s now been announced for the UK and is available to pre-order at £199.99, going on sale on 16 November.

Echo Show

Echo Show allows you to:

• Watch video news broadcasts

• Watch YouTube videos

• View song lyrics from Amazon Music

• Monitor smart security cameras, baby monitors and video doorbells, including those from Ring and Netgear Arlo

• View weather forecasts

• Read shopping and to-do lists

• Video chat with others who have an Amazon Echo device or Alexa app

Find out more about the Echo Show.

What is the Echo Plus?

The Echo Plus is a bigger and better version of both the original and the new 2nd-gen model. Its increased size allows it to incorporate enhanced speakers – 360-degree sounds comes via a 2.5in woofer and 0.8in tweeter. There’s also Dolby processing, which should make your music sound better.

Echo Plus

On the top of the Echo Plus are similar controls and seven far-field microphones. Combined with beam-forming technology and noise cancellation, Amazon says the Plus can hear you from any direction-even while music is playing.

The Echo Plus is available to pre-order now at £139.99, going on sale on 31 October.

Read more about the Echo Plus here.

What is the Echo Dot?

Amazon’s newly updated Echo Dot brings Alexa support to any room in your home, offering pretty impressive functionality for such a small device. It costs £49.99 and is available from Amazon now.

First, and most obviously, the Echo Dot will use the Alexa Voice Service to provide users with everything from music playback to the latest news, and even control of smart home devices (if compatible, anyway!). It’s also smart enough to work out which Echo you’re closer to (if you have more than one) and respond only from that speaker, despite being heard on multiple speakers. 

However, the Echo Dot also features Bluetooth functionality allowing you to connect it to any Bluetooth speaker in your home, bringing Alexa functionality to, say, the high-end Kef Muo Bluetooth speaker. It also allows you to play music from services like Spotify, Prime Music and Pandora without the need for a computer or smartphone. The virtual assistant is activated by simply saying “Alexa” and thanks to its “far-field voice recognition” it can pick up commands from across the room while music is playing from the speaker.

It also features a built-in speaker, allowing the Echo Dot to be used in a number of situations from simulating an alarm clock in your bedroom to reading out a recipe in the kitchen, and can be hooked up to an existing speaker system via a line out cable.

What is the Echo Spot?

For now the Echo Spot is a US-only product, but it will be coming to the UK in 2018. It’s a smart alarm clock, and a cross between the Echo Show and Echo Dot.

Echo Spot

It’s more expensive than the Dot at $129.99 (UK price will be confirmed before it arrives here), but it has greater functionality. There’s a 2.5in display that can show the time or allow you to make hands-free calls and video calls. Audio quality won’t be amazing, but you can hook up an external speaker via Bluetooth or AUX.

What is the Echo Look?

The Echo Look is another currently US-only product, which costs $199.99 but can be purchased from Amazon.com only by invitation.

Echo Look

A hands-free camera and style assistant, the Echo Look can ensure you are always looking at your best.

Echo Look can take full-length selfies and video at request, allowing you to show off your wardrobe to your heart’s content, or for personal use quickly and easily…

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