With so many different speakers and smart displays in Amazon's Echo range it can be hard to know which one to buy.
It might be stating the obvious, but the difference between Echo speakers and the Echo Show models is that the latter have screens. This allows them to show photos, play videos from various streaming services (now including Netflix), news headlines, weather forecasts and even games.
Every one of these devices runs on mains power (they're not portable) and responds to voice commands when connected to Wi-Fi. Alexa is the built-in digital assistant, but regardless of whether you choose an Echo or an Echo Show, Alexa can essentially do the same things.
And you can do a lot with Alexa. You can ask for specific music (and for that music to play in sync on multiple Echos). You can "drop in" on other Echo devices around your home to have a quick conversation with a family member, or call friends and relatives with Echos - or the Alexa app - and this can be a video call if you and they have an Echo Show.
Of course, there are more prosaic uses, such as saying "Alexa, what’s the time?" and "Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes". But if you have compatible smart lights, or a smart plug, you can also use commands such as "Alexa, turn on the lights in the kitchen" or "Alexa, turn off the iron".
This is the great thing about Echos. You can use them very simply, or really take advantage of what Alexa can do.
Alexa is available from other manufacturers too, such as Sonos, and is built into some TVs, sound bars - even dash cams and cars - but we're focusing on Amazon-made device here.
Read on to see what they all do differently, but also check out these great accessories for the various Echo devices including the Wall Clock and Echo Connect. There's also the Echo Sub which can be paired with one or a pair of Echos to provide better bass (but only when streaming music from the internet).
If you want tips on the things you can do with an Echo, here's how to use Alexa.
Best Amazon Echo 2022
Amazon Echo Studio
- Excellent sound quality
- Supports spatial audio
- Relatively expensive
This is the Amazon Echo to buy if you care about sound quality. You still need to subscribe to a music streaming service that offers 'HD' music and, not coincidentally, Amazon's own is the current one to go for.
The Studio doesn't only do hi-res audio: it also supports so-called 3D audio. Currently it can play Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio, which can be both music and video soundtracks.
Best of all, it's way cheaper than rivals from Apple and Google. It also sounds even better when paired with the Echo Sub, but do be warned that the sub only works with streamed music, not via Bluetooth from your phone.
Read our full Amazon Echo Studio review
Amazon Echo (4th-gen)
- Built-in Zigbee hub
- AZ1 processor
- Can be hard to see light ring
The Amazon Echo 4 looks completely different to the Echo 3 in terms of design, and its sound quality is also noticeably better, thanks to extra bass.
As you'd expect, it can't compete with the Echo Studio but it's much cheaper. And if you really want an inexpensive Echo with great sound, hunt around for an Echo Input on ebay (Amazon discontinued it) and connect it to a sound system of your choice.
The Echo 4 is one of the best-value smart speakers because it now has the smart hub from the Echo Plus, allowing it to connect to and control Zigbee devices such as Philips Hue lights.
The bottom-mounted light ring can be harder to see than previous Echos, but it really depends upon where you put it in your room.
It also has the newer Amazon AZ1 processor which enables a more natural-sounding Alexa voice as well as the ability to process some commands without needing an internet connection.
Read our full Amazon Echo (4th-gen) review
Amazon Echo Dot (4th-gen)
- Good value
- Useful clock display
- Not the best sound
The Echo Dot has always been an affordable way to get Alexa in your home. The latest model has better bass, looks even better than the third-gen Dot and when you factor in the more powerful processor, is great value at this price.
You can even pair two Dots for stereo sound.
We think it's well worth spending the extra £10/$10 to get the clock version as it's so convenient to see the time, and how long is left on a timer.
It's a great entry into the world of Alexa to listen to radio, podcast and music as well as ask queries. You can have one, or put several about the house.
Read our full Amazon Echo Dot (4th-gen) review
Amazon Echo Show 10
- Rotating display faces you
- Great sound
It’s a lot more expensive than the 5- and 8-inch Echo Show smart displays, but the Echo Show 10 largely justifies its cost with a good quality sound and its ability to follow you around the room.
It sounds a bit gimmicky but it should be useful in larger rooms or kitchens where you’d otherwise have to turn the screen manually to see it.
You can also use its ability to rotate to keep an eye on your room when you’re away, swiping the screen of your phone to turn the camera remotely.
Other than that, the experience is much like its predecessors and the smaller-screened versions. We’d be open to an even larger screen, but as long as you’re not trying to replace a TV with the Echo Show, it’s big enough.
Read our full Amazon Echo Show 10 review
Amazon Echo Show 15
- Widgets provide at-a-glance info
- Interface needs work
- Middling sound quality
The Show 15 has biggest screen on any Echo at 15.6 inches. You can buy an optional desk stand, but it's designed to be hung on the wall.
Unlike other Echo Shows, you can pick widgets which display useful information such as your calendar, favourite smart home device controls and a weather forecast. Thanks to 'Visual ID' Alexa can recognise who's in front of the screen and display personalised information in those widgets.
In future, companies will release their own widgets which should make the Show 15 even more useful, but right now there aren't many to choose between.
It's great as a digital photo frame, but images can only be pulled from Amazon Photos or Facebook, which is quite limiting.
And, because of the thin picture-frame design, sound quality isn't a strong suit: you'll want to avoid this model if you plan to listen to a lot of music.
You can use it for video calls, but it's a shame that the camera doesn't keep you in the frame like the Echo Show 8 and 10.
Read our full Amazon Echo Show 15 review
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021)
- Use like a security camera
- Camera keeps you in the frame
- No Zigbee hub
It may not have the Zigbee hub that's built into the more expensive - and larger - Echo Show 10, but this model offers the best compromise of features, screen size and audio quality.
And at this price, those aren't compromises you'll ever regret making: Alexa is just as capable here as she is on the Echo Show 10, able to show the video feed from compatible cameras; lyrics for many songs from Amazon Music and more.
Plus, this second-generation model has a 13Mp camera which has plenty of resolution for digital zoom. This is used in video calls to keep you in the middle of the frame even if you move around the room - just like the Facebook Portal and latest iPad Pro. It's not as versatile as the 360° Echo Show 10, but it's a good compromise.
Thanks to the recent addition of Netflix on all Echo Show models, they're a good choice for entertainment. Just note that YouTube isn't easily available, unlike Amazon's Fire TV devices and, naturally, Google's own Nest Hub smart display.
Read our full Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) review
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd-gen)
- Very affordable
- No longer offered with clock display
The third-generation Echo Dot is still being sold alongside the 4th-gen model, at a lower price.
It sounds pretty good for its size - especially when listening to the radio. But it does lack the newer processor of the fourth-generation Dot, and there's no 'with clock' model available any more.
That said, it all depends upon the price you find it for. Amazon regularly discounts Echos and we've seen the Dot sell for less than the Echo Flex. If the price difference between third- and fourth-gen Dots is only a few pounds or dollars, then it's worth opting for the newer model.
Read our full Amazon Echo Dot (3rd-gen) review
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2021)
- Can be used like a security camera
- Mediocre sound
The Echo Show 5 costs less than the fourth-gen Echo, yet has a 5.5in screen and camera for video calls. It's a little small for watching videos from Amazon Prime (or Netflix), but it's a great size for a bedside table.
Sound quality isn't as good as the Echo 4, or the Echo Show 8, which is the only real drawback. This latest second-gen model has a higher-resolution camera (which isn't as good as the 8's) and can also be used a kind of security camera as you can view the camera feed remotely.
Essentially, it's a good choice if you have a tight budget but want an Echo with a screen and don't need music to sound amazing.
Read our full Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) review
Amazon Echo Flex
- Not suitable for music
The Flex is a different type of smart speaker: it’s a utility device, not one for listening to music or the radio, and is designed to plug directly into a wall socket in your hallway, garage or other area where you just need basic audio.
It’s brilliant for asking Alexa for information, and controlling your lights, switches and plugs. You can plug in a motion sensor (or night light) to make it even more useful.
Read our full Amazon Echo Flex review
Amazon Echo Auto
- Alexa in your car!
- Hard to hide cables
The Auto is an unusual Echo because it is the only option - from Amazon's range - for putting Alexa in your car. This means you can't really compare it to other Echo models.
There are alternatives if you're considering a device that adds Alexa to your car such as the Roav Viva (which is around the same price) and a dashcam from Nextbase's latest range.
The Echo Auto is the easiest to set up of these options, but the Viva is the more discreet option as it plugs directly into your car's 12V socket.
Read our full Amazon Echo Auto review