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Which is the best of Amazon's new Echos for you?

T3 logo T3 9/29/2017 David Nield

Courtesy of T3: T3 image © Courtesy of T3 T3 image Amazon decided to unveil a whole army of new Echo devices this week, in the face of growing competition from the likes of Google and Apple, which means if you're in the market for a talking smart speaker you might be a little confused by the available options.

Well, be confused no longer, because we're here to guide you through all of your choices: there are four new Echo devices in total, with different features and at different price points, and we've outlined everything you need to know to choose between them all.

Something all these gadgets have in common is embedded Alexa smartness: Amazon's listening and talking digital assistant that can do everything from read out your upcoming calendar appointments to tell you how bad the traffic's going to be on the way to work.

The Echo Plus

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The new £139.99/$149.99 Echo Plus looks a lot like the old, original Echo (launched way back in 2014) but has effectively replaced it - it has some slightly nicer-looking finishes to pick from, better audio quality, and extra smart home features.

Any Alexa device can control certain compatible bits of smart home kit, but Amazon says everything is seamless with the Echo Plus, so you don't need to add any skills or do any extra configuring - it just works out of the box.

Of course you get all the smart tricks the original Echo did too. It comes in black, silver, and white, and this is the Echo to get if you want the most capable Echo and the biggest sound.

The Echo

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The non-Plus Echo, effectively the Echo 2, shrinks everything down, Google Home-style. It'll set you back £89.99 or $99.99, and comes in five different finishes, including fabric and wood effect options - again, very Google Home.

It doesn't have the integrated smart home capabilities of the Echo Plus, but Amazon says it has upgraded the sound performance compared with the original Echo, and it should be able to pick up your voice a little better.

That's it in terms of upgrades - nothing too dramatic. Compared with the original Echo it looks nicer, will cost you less, and sounds a bit better too. This might end up being the most popular Echo of the new batch.

The Echo Spot

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The Echo Spot, or the alarm clock Echo, is kind of a cross between the Echo Dot and the Echo Show. It only has a small speaker, so you plug it into one you've already got for an audio boost, but it does have its own 2.5-inch screen.

That screen can be used for everything from weather forecasts to video clips, though the YouTube experience probably isn't the best on a display this small. It can also handle video calls, thanks to the small camera built into its frame.

This one costs $129.99 and is so far only available in the US. A wider launch in the UK and Europe is expected later this year, but so far we haven't had any pricing details.

The Echo Connect

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The boxy Echo Connect was also unveiled this week but is something of an odd one out compared with the other speakers here. It's designed to plug straight into your landline socket, enabling calls to any standard number through any of the Echos you've got dotted around your home.

As it plugs straight into your phone socket, you can use your existing phone number, and make calls to international numbers and the emergency services as well.

Essentially, installing an Echo Connect seamlessly turns all your other Echos into a wireless audio calling solution. A Connect will set you back $34.99 when it goes on sale at the end of the year in the US - as yet there's no word whether Amazon will launch the device outside of the US.

The Echo Dot

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Unlike the original Echo, the Echo Dot remains on sale for £49.99/$49.99. It doesn't have a full speaker, or a screen, but it is cheap and it does have Alexa - no doubt Amazon is hoping people will buy extra Dots for extra rooms in the house.

It can connect to speakers or headphones through Bluetooth or via the 3.5mm audio port, so you've got plenty of flexibility when it comes to hooking it up to other kit (you can even buy it with a bundled speaker from Amazon if you prefer).

As we said in our original review, the Echo Dot is a no-brainer if you've got some decent speakers to hook it up to - they're going to sound better than the integrated speakers built into the other Echos. Get this Echo for Alexa on the cheap.

The Echo Show

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The Echo with video, basically - that 7-inch touchscreen display can show clips, song lyrics, feeds from security cameras, the other end of a video call, the weather forecast and so on. It's the Echo to get if you like your smart speakers with a display.

It still supports all the usual Alexa voice commands as well, of course, but you've got the benefit of looking at some responses on the screen rather than having everything read out, and that can often come in handy.

You can also use the Echo Show as a digital photo frame, and to watch Amazon Prime Video, so there are plenty of ways to use the display. You can pick an Echo Show up for £199.99/$229.99.

The Amazon Tap

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It doesn't have the Echo name, but it has Alexa on board, so we're including the Amazon Tap here. This is the portable Echo, the one you can take with you away from the limitations of needing a constant power supply.

It's about two-thirds the height of the Echo Plus and is available in a handful of funky colors to liven up your next picnic or beach trip. It can play music for nine hours straight on one battery charge, Amazon says.

Of course to do anything much besides just amplify audio from your phone over Bluetooth or a cable, it needs either a Wi-Fi connection or a tethered connection to your phone. The device is also US only for now, and will set you back $129.99.

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