Although Amazon’s Echo range is still going strong, it wasn’t long before other big tech names made a play for a slice of the smart home pie. These days there’s fierce competition from the Apple Homepod and Google Home, as well as a whole host of third party speakers.
That means it’s up to Amazon’s range of Echo products, with its revised 2017 Amazon Echo still leading the charge, to keep one step ahead of the competition.
But with so much choice in the smart speaker arena, with everything from speakers with smart screens to tiny portable speakers dominating the market, it’s not always easy to figure out which one will suit you, your home, your budget and your needs the best.
The truth is that, despite mounting competition, the Amazon Echo is still one of our favorite options for your modern day home. It’ll play music, check the news and make your smart home tick. That’s because not only is it a solid speaker with a refreshed design, it’s also an admirable AI smart home helper thanks to Alexa.
The second-generation Amazon Echo sits in a sweet spot – it’s affordable, yet a fully capable smart speaker.
It has dual-speakers powered by Dolby, which means it sounds much, muchbetter than the smaller Amazon Echo Dot. However, on the smart speakers price scale it’s still a mid-range choice in comparison to the pricier Echo Plus.
We believe its sound quality is more than good enough for most everyday needs. However, audiophiles be warned: it’s not ready to replace your hifi or current sound system just yet. Instead, it’s a great starter option if you want to dip your toe into the smart home space without a big financial commitment or if playing lots of music isn’t really a priority for you.
Since the first version of the smart speaker was released way back in 2015, Amazon has made a number of subtle yet significant improvements to the Echo’s look. The latest 2017 version boasts new fabric and wood finishes, which are likely to suit most of your home decor way better than the brushed aluminum that Amazon used to favor. Which, let’s be honest, at times also looked a bit tacky.
It’s hard to pick fault with the Amazon Echo, but one of its few flaws is that it doesn’t have the volume dial that we’ve come to love on the Echo Plus.
Its Alexa digital assistant also doesn’t seem quite as intelligent as Google Assistant either, but that might be more of a subjective preference. At this affordable price though, we’re very, very happy with this smart speaker and it’ll take a lot to knock it off our top spot.