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Amazon Echo (2020) Review

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Echo review 1

Amazon announced new Echo, Fire TV and Eero devices back in October. We got our hands on some of these new products from Amazon and will be writing our quick thoughts on them over the next week or so.

Echo 2020 Haiku Review

Ballsy new design
Beats Nest Audio in bass
Good room-filling sound

That’s pretty much it folks. But read on if you want more about the new Echo.

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We have yet another Echo speaker refresh, but this year there’s an all-new spherical design and you now have a smart home hub integrated from ZigBee. Last year you had to pay for the Echo Plus to get smart home integration.

Unboxing Echo

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Inside the box, you get the Echo speaker and an AC adapter and instructions. Setting up the speaker in the Alexa iOS app is really easy—and much faster than setting up a Nest Audio (Amazon doesn’t ask you a billion questions). For those wondering, the AC adapter will leave room for another plug in your standard outlet.

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Picking up the Echo, it makes you want to go play bocci ball, or turn it upside down like a classic Magic 8-Ball. An LED light ring adorns the bottom circumference of the speaker, which will reflect against surfaces you place the speaker on, making it easier to see at night.

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Echo has a 3-inch woofer and dual 0.8-inch tweeters, plus Dolby processing. There’s also now automatic room acoustics that adapts music to where you place the speaker—taking a feature from the more expensive and impressive Echo Studio.

Amazon says the new spherical design allows it to maximize stereo and spatial audio quality, offering louder volumes and fuller and deeper bass. And it shows in our quick tests.

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When it comes to sound, the Echo can easily fill a room and a pair would sound even better. It can get fairly loud and when it comes to bass, you can not only hear it but you can feel it too (but not so much as the Sonos One; for those wondering, bass does not match Apple’s HomePod at this pricepoint, obviously).

When it came to asking Alexa requests, she handled them just fine, even when music was on loud and we were across the room.

On the back of the Echo, you have a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the speaker also supports Bluetooth Low Energy so you can stream to it from any devices. There’s a tripod mount on the bottom of the echo for mounting onto stands.

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Amazon Echo vs Nest Audio

When compared to a similarly-priced speaker from Google, such as the latter’s 2020 Nest Audio, we have to give the win to the Echo Audio. It’s louder and handles booming bass better than the Nest Audio.

With equalizer settings (bass, treble, mid) for the Echo and Nest Audio at halfway between default and max, the Echo sounded louder and handled bass better, with volume set at 50%. But at times the Nest Audio sounded clearer versus the Echo, which was muddied at times.

Overall though, if we had to make a choice based on overall audio quality, we’d still opt for the Echo. But when it comes to smart assistants, we still think Google Assistant is better than Alexa. It really comes down to what speakers and smart assistants you’ve already committed to.

Check out the Echo Dot (more on this speaker soon) beside the Echo and Nest Audio below:

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From left to right: Echo Dot, Echo, Nest Audio

The overhead view shows just how much deeper the Echo is compared to Nest Audio, which is also priced at $129.99 CAD; in the hand, the Nest Audio is slightly heavier:

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Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo is a very good smart speaker for the price. The design will easily blend into any room and it sounds really good when going toe-to-toe with Nest Audio. When compared against our Sonos One, it’s nearly up there, at about half the cost (a stereo pair of Sonos Ones still is pretty darn good).

Do you know what’s also priced at $129 in Canada? Apple’s HomePod mini, which launches on Monday, November 16. We’ll have a hands-on review of HomePod mini soon so stay tuned.

Conclusion

Again, if you’ve been itching to upgrade your older Amazon Echo, this may be one to consider. You now get a built-in smart home hub, louder sound and bass, plus a spherical design that is not offensive (but not super attractive either), and can easily blend into your home’s surroundings. Echo’s sound can easily fill a single bedroom and also a larger room without trouble.

You may want to keep an eye out for a sale though, especially with Black Friday coming this month, to save a few bucks.

Click here to check out the Echo on Amazon.ca.

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