Pros / The Amazon Echo can be controlled completely hands free with voice commands.
Cons / It has weak sound when compared to the best wireless speakers in our lineup.
Verdict / While the voice interaction makes this a unique speaker, low sound quality earns the Echo its low spot in our comparison.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
When you the compare the Amazon Echo's sound quality and connectivity options with the other wi-fi speakers in our lineup, the Echo is a bit underwhelming. However, this speaker has a few impressive innovations in its repertoire. Instead of being merely a wireless speaker, this device can serve as a digital personal assistant that can lend a helping hand when yours are full. With smartphone integration and voice-command activation, the Amazon Echo possesses advanced tech.
The Amazon Echo connects to your home network via Wi-Fi. You'll have to download the Amazon Alexa application on your smartphone and follow the setup instructions to complete the process. It is one of the quickest wireless setups that we encountered in our testing. This process only takes a few minutes to complete. Once the setup is finished, you can begin to play with the voice commands.
The voice interaction between you and the device is what sets this Wi-Fi speaker apart from others in our lineup. You activate the Echo by saying the wake word, "Alexa." A blue ring illuminates around the top of the speaker letting you know Alexa is ready to fulfill your request. For example, you can ask Alexa, "What's the weather like today?" The app will respond to you with the weather report for your current location. You can play music from various sources, including Prime Music and Pandora.
The Echo's volume works on a scale from one to 10. You can say, "Alexa, turn music down to a four," and the volume will decease down to the desired volume. Alexa can also multitask. For example, if you are preoccupied cooking dinner, you can ask Alexa to set a timer. If music is currently playing at the time of your request, Alexa will pause the music, accept your request then continue the music at the previous volume. When the timer sounds, it will pause the music and sound the timer until you request Alexa to stop, then the music will continue.
Echo is fully integrated with the mobile application. On the home page of the application you can review your request history. You can also add a to-do list into the application and have Alexa read it back to you later that day. The integration between the application and the Echo is impressive.
Unfortunately, sound quality isn't exceptional from the Echo. It gets loud enough to fill a small room or kitchen, but when compared to the Sonos PLAY:5, the sound quality is lacking. We listened to a plethora of different artists and genres on the Echo and compared it to other speakers in our lineup. The two words that best describe the audio quality are "weak" and "tinny." The Echo doesn't have much bass to offer and doesn't sound nearly as full as other speakers in our review.
The other issue you should keep in mind is its lack of connectivity. Outside of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the speaker offers no other form of connectivity. Many speakers in our review offer aux ports and USB connectivity. The Echo lacks these inputs.
The Amazon Echo is small and nonintrusive. You can easily tuck it away in a corner without taking up much room at all. Some of the speakers we reviewed are rather large and require a good amount of space. Its small size and 2-pound heft make it easy to place just about anywhere in the house.
We can recommend the Amazon Echo for its hands-free use and for the services it provides, although not for its sound quality. With its tinny sound, this speaker isn't a great choice to be the center of your audio entertainment. However, the voice commands make this a unique device.