Amazon Echo 4th Gen Review
Amazon’s original smart speaker gets a brand new look and sound
Why Amazon Echo 4th Gen is Great Smart Speaker
The Amazon Echo 4th Gen is a great smart speaker with a brand new look and sound. It’s easy to set up and use, and it has a lot of features that make it a great choice for any home. The speaker is very loud and clear, and the bass is very deep. The Echo also has a lot of great features, like being able to control your smart home devices, play music, and even order things from Amazon. The only downside is that the Echo is a little expensive, but it’s definitely worth the price.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Echo 4th Generation
- As powerful as the Echo Plus
- Strong bass for the size
- Built-in smart home hub
- High frequencies don’t get quite as much finesse as they could
- Alexa can still be awkward to talk to
Amazon Echo 4TH Gen Specs
|Built-In Voice Assistant||Amazon Alexa|
Amazon’s original smart speaker is back and more powerful than ever. The fourth-generation Echo has a brand-new look, ditching the speaker’s cylindrical origins for a more whimsical spherical design. Even better, it’s phasing out the $150 Echo Plus by putting all of its audio power and additional features, like a built-in smart home hub, into the new Echo. So for just $99.99, the fourth-generation Echo offers better audio performance than ever, the ability to control Zigbee devices, and, of course, Alexa voice assistance. That’s more than you’ll get from any other smart speaker at this price, easily earning the Echo our Editors’ Choice award.
Design and features of Amazon Echo 4th Gen
The fourth-generation Echo is a near-sphere, measuring 5.2 inches tall and 5.7 inches wide. It’s available in black, blue, or white. Amazon notes that the fabric and aluminum it uses in its Echo speakers are 100 percent recycled materials. The new design is fun and looks similar to Apple’s forthcoming HomePod mini.
The light ring has been moved from the top of the speaker to the base, providing a less direct glow that’s still recognizable. The top panel holds buttons for Alexa, volume up, volume down, and mic mute. The back is home to the connector for the power adapter and a 3.5mm audio output.
The Echo 4th Generation comes with a 3-inch woofer and dual 0.8-inch front-firing tweeters for Dolby audio support, as well as a built-in smart home hub with Zigbee and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support. It also has Amazon Sidewalk support to extend the range of low-bandwidth devices.
Alexa is a voice assistant that can provide you with information like sports scores and weather, play music, control smart home devices, and make calls. You can summon Alexa by saying the wake word “Alexa” (or one of a few other options), and then ask it to complete your desired task.
Alexa Voice Assistant
The fourth-generation Echo also provides access to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Thanks to the built-in Zigbee hub, Alexa can now control various smart home devices.
The Echo features Amazon’s AZ1 Neural Edge processor, a chip designed for machine learning. According to Amazon, the processor enables new features that run on the edge of the cloud (with some processing on the device, rather than Amazon’s servers), like more responsive speech recognition. This is important because while Alexa is a capable voice assistant, its natural language recognition can be stiff and requires very specific syntax for some commands. By running some processing on-device, the new Echo can respond more quickly and accurately to commands, making it a more natural and user-friendly voice assistant.
The AZ1 processor promises to make Alexa easier to talk to, though at the moment Google Assistant offers more flexible language recognition. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that Alexa is a formidable voice assistant with a larger library of third-party skills than the competition.
Audio Performance of Amazon Echo 4th Generation
In terms of audio performance, the Echo is smaller than the Google Nest Audio but packs a bigger punch thanks to its larger woofer and tweeters. You won’t get ear-splitting bass from this small speaker but it still delivers a good low-frequency sound that’s nicely rounded and full. We tested this out with The Knife’s “Silent Shout” and were impressed with the kick drum hits which had a good sense of thump without sounding too poppy or punchy.
How We Test Speakers
The improved bass is also very noticeable in Yes’ “Roundabout.” The opening guitar plucks sound warm and full because of the lower-frequency resonance, and the electric bassline becomes more distinct when the rest of the instrumentation joins in. Although the Echo doesn’t have the same high-frequency finesse as the Nest Audio, so the string texture and vocals aren’t as pronounced, there is a lot more response in the lows and low mids.
The Echo’s audio quality is excellent, and it does a great job with The Crystal Method’s “Born Too Slow.” The backbeat has enough low-frequency presence to sound properly ominous, while the guitar riffs and vocals stand out in the mix.
The audio performance here easily eclipses what you get with the $50 fourth-generation Echo Dot, which is only a cosmetic upgrade from the previous model and falls far short of the Echo in the bass department. The $200 Echo Studio still offers the strongest audio experience of the bunch, but it also costs the most. For $100, the standard Echo is impressive.
The audio performance on the new Echo Dot is much better than the $50 fourth-generation Echo Dot. The $200 Echo Studio offers the best audio experience, but it is also the most expensive. For $100, the standard Echo is a good choice.
The Best Echo Yet
The fourth generation Amazon Echo is a decent follow-up to the previous model. It has a bit more power and improved Zigbee support for controlling smart home devices. However, it isn’t enough of an improvement to justify replacing your third-generation Echo. If you’re looking to upgrade from an Echo Dot or just want a new smart speaker with great sound quality, this is the model to get. Google’s Nest Audio is a good alternative with its easier-to-talk-to voice assistant, but the Echo has better sound quality and more smart home device support.
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