Amazon has a huge range of smart speakers and screens with Alexa. Deciding which one to buy can be difficult, but we're here to help.
Most of the Echo range is comprised of smart speakers, with three smart displays, called Echo Show. They can show extra information as well as play videos from various streaming services (now including Netflix), and also news headlines. There's a brand new model, the Echo Show 10, which we'll review as soon as Amazon sends us one: it doesn't currently have a launch date.
The fourth-generation Echo and Echo Dot have some key updates, and you'll find reviews below.
Every one of these devices is for indoor home use and responds to voice commands when connected to Wi-Fi. You can say something simple like "Alexa, what’s the time?" as well as more advanced commands such as "Alexa, turn on the lights in the kitchen", which requires you to have compatible smart lights, or a smart switch / plug.
You can do a lot with Alexa. It's possible to play music in sync on multiple Echos, and pair two together for stereo sound. You can "drop in" on 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.
This is the great thing about Echos. You can use them very simply, or really take advantage of the full range of capabilities.
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 online).
If you want tips on the things you can do with an Echo, here's how to use Alexa.
Best Amazon Echo 2021
1. Amazon Echo Studio
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
2. Amazon Echo Dot (4th-gen)
If the Studio costs more than you were planning to spend, then the latest Echo Dot is a lot cheaper. It has better bass, looks even better than the third-gen Dot and when you factor in the faster processor, is great value at this price.
You can even pair two Dots for stereo sound.
We think it's well worth 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
3. Amazon Echo (4th-gen)
The Amazon Echo 4 looks completely different to the Echo 3 in terms of design, and its sound quality is also a bit better, thanks to extra bass. It's still not the best, with some instruments getting lost, but as we've said, if you want music to sound good, then either go for the Echo Studio or - if you're not already invested in Amazon's smart home ecosystem - a Nest Audio.
Amazon used to sell the Echo Input, which was designed to connect to powered speakers. So if you're on a budget but want great sound quality, look for an Input on ebay or another marketplace.
The Echo 4 now has the smart hub from the Echo Plus, rendering that model obsolete, yet costs the same as the Echo 3, making it great value.
Read our full Amazon Echo (4th-gen) review
4. Amazon Echo Show 8
It may not have the Zigbee hub that's built into the more expensive - and larger - 10-inch Echo Show, 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 most expensive Echo Show, able to show the video feed from compatible cameras, show you lyrics for many songs from Amazon Music and more.
Thanks to the recent addition of Netflix on all Echo Show models, they're even more versatile. Just note that YouTube isn't easily available, unlike Amazon's Fire TV devices.
Read our full Amazon Echo Show 8 review
5. Amazon Echo Dot (3rd-gen)
The third-generation Echo Dot hasn't yet been discontinued and Amazon is selling alongside the 4th-gen model, but at a lower price.
It sounds pretty good for its size - especially for 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 speaker.
Read our full Amazon Echo Dot (3rd-gen) review
6. Amazon Echo Show 5
The Echo Show 5 costs less than the fourth-gen Echo, yet has a five-inch screen and camera for video calls. It's a little small for watching videos from Amazon Prime (or any other source), but it's a great size for a bedside table.
Sound quality isn't as good as the Echo, or the Echo Show 8, which is the only real drawback.
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 review
7. Amazon Echo Flex
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
8. Amazon Echo Auto
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
9. Amazon Echo Show (2nd-gen)
It's expensive, but the 2nd-gen Echo Show is a good upgrade on the original.
It lets you call other people with Alexa devices, look up stuff online and watch Amazon Prime video. Just remember that it needs to be plugged in, it's not a tablet. And it's about to be replaced by the Echo Show 10, which we'll review as soon as we can get our hands on one.
Audio quality is great and the screen is a good size but unless you really want the visual element or ability to call other Shows, you'd be better off with the Echo or the Echo Plus. And if you do want a screen but a more affordable price, look to the Echo Show 5.
Read our full Amazon Echo Show (2nd-gen) review