Amazon recently launched its third generation of Echo devices, but the fact that a diverse second-generation portfolio co-exists makes things a bit complicated. The Echo (2019), that we will be talking about in this review, can be best viewed as an alternative to the more expensive Echo Plus (2nd gen) or a more appealing option for anyone who wants the same rich audio output but doesn’t want to pay extra 5K for the built-in smart home hub. (Amazon Echo 3rd generation Review हिंदी में पढ़िए)
Confused? Before we proceed with our Amazon Echo (3rd gen) review, let sort a few things.
Which Amazon Echo device to buy?
Listed below are, what we consider, currently the most relevant buying options across generations in the Echo portfolio for anyone who is buying in late 2019 or in early 2020.
Echo smart speakers:
- Echo Dot 3rd gen – 3,999
- Echo Dot 3rd gen with clock – 4,999
- Echo 3rd gen – 9,999 INR
- Echo Sub – a subwoofer that can be paired with other Echo speakers – Rs. 12,999
Echo devices with display:
- Echo Show 5 (with display) – Rs. 7,999
Echo devices with built-in smart home hub:
- Echo Plus – for the integrated smart home hub – 14,999
- Echo Studio – for the best audio and hub – Rs. 22,999
- Echo Show – Display, built-in-hub, reasonably powerful audio – Rs 22,999
Being the most affordable in the lineup, Echo Dots are what most consumers experimenting with smart homes will be attracted to. For those willing to spend a little extra, the Echo Show 5 additionally offers a display and, as we mentioned in our review, this simple screen and smart device dashboard can notably uplift your smart home experience.
Be as that may, Dots and entry-level Show 5 are mostly meant for smaller spaces like your bedroom and kitchen. The excellent mic array and powerful audio on Amazon Echo 3 (things we will get to in a bit) make it better suited for comparatively bigger rooms or halls. Echo (2019) should also make more sense for people who’d prefer some extra punch in their music. In fact, the Echo (3rd gen) is the best sounding Echo in the line up unless you are comfortable spending a premium for the Echo studio.
If the Zigbee smart home hub, that can let your smart home devices interact without internet, is important to your smart home vision or implementation, you may opt for the Echo Plus (2nd gen) in the mid-range. If not, you can save the extra 5K and go with the Amazon Echo (3rd generation).
With that sorted (hopefully), let’s dive into the review:
Echo (3rd gen) Review: Design and audio
The third-generation Echo smart speaker has exactly the same design and dimensions as the second generation Echo Plus. The familiar fabric mesh wraps around the cylindrical tower that conceals 3” woofer and 0.8” tweeter. This time around, the charger, charging cable, and the top surface are black in color which should ensure that they don’t get as dirty in the long run.
The spec-sheet tells us that the new Amazon Echo is significantly heavier than the Echo Plus. The extra heft isn’t a negative since you won’t be lugging it around and perhaps it can be attributed to heavier magnets that have resulted in improved bass response.
Talking of Audio, the Echo Plus is easily the best sounding smart speaker in the under 10K segment. The audio is quite clear, the bass is punchy, and a single Echo unit is loud enough to cover an average-size hall.
Users also have to option to connect two of these in a stereo arrangement. In fact, the third-generation Echo devices in the same room can also be paired as a sound system to the Amazon Fire TV stick and stream Dolby audio output for your TV.
Amazon screwed up audio in the first generation Echo models but the subsequent generation of its smart speakers have highly prioritized this key aspect and the audio quality is what gives Amazon Echo 3 a massive edge over Google Home and Nest Hub smart display.
The Echo Plus is also surprisingly good at catching our voice prompts without requiring us to raise our voice – even when the music is playing. As we mentioned in the last section, this ability makes the Echo (3rd gen) a better fit for halls and large spaces as compared to other under-10k Echo options.
One more thing. The clock on the new Echo Dot is more than a mere clock, and a similar LED display on the bigger Echo would have definitely made it a lot more attractive and distinct.
Also Read: Google Nest Hub Review
Echo (3rd gen) Review: Is Alexa any smarter?
This was the first Echo device that we set up in Hindi and I was surprised how conveniently my parents and kids could communicate with Alexa in Hindi.
It’s evident that Amazon has been working on optimizing Alexa for India but it still can’t beat Googe Assistant, especially when it comes to understanding Indian dialects or understanding context.
What makes Alexa special is its Skills. You can enable as many of these cloud-based skills as you like without slowing down your devices and can use them to interact with smart products like your TV or AC or to personalize your experience in other meaningful ways.
Amazon’s Skill Store used to be miserably limited compared to the global Skill Store, but things have changed for the better and I can now find mostly what I need. And we are yet to come across an IoT device that works with Google Assistant but not with Alexa.
I am heavily invested in both Amazon and Google services. Amazon Shopping and dependence on Fire TV stick are what primarily keep Echo devices relevant to my personal needs. All major music streaming apps are supported and Alexa is becoming increasingly better at fetching the right songs (Assistant still works better when you ask for less popular Hindi songs).
Echo (3rd gen) Review: Should you buy it?
Google had a remarkable headstart in India with a smarter assistant and the backing of Google App suite, but Amazon has somehow still managed to make its Echo lineup look relevant through generations. Over the last two years, Amazon has been innovatively marketing Alexa and optimizing it for Indian needs and its ecosystem is now equally matched in the smart home race.
All Amazon Echo products are available with a try-and-buy offer. Users have the option to try them for 10 days and get a full refund in case they decide to not continue. And thanks to innovative bundles that Amazon pushed during Diwali sales, most people in our office now own one or the other Echo speaker.
Enhancing market share is important because it ensures that all smart home equipment makers in India do not overlook Alexa integration. Even more importantly, higher market share means more incentive for developers to make innovative skills that are the true smarts powering Alexa.
Coming back to the device at hand, the Amazon Echo (3rd gen) is perhaps the best-sounding smart home speaker under Rs. 10,000. It’s more receptive mic-array makes it better suited for installation in large spaces as compared to Echo dots and Echo show 5. 5.
Of course, these factors are considerations only if you prioritize Amazon’s service ecosystem over Google’s. With the third generation, you have a few more reasons to.
- Great audio quality
- Responsive mic-array makes it suitable for large spaces
- Alexa understands and speaks Hindi remarkably well!
- No display or clock option