Smart digital assistants have earned a place in our homes. They’re evolving to be not just smart speakers, but home automation essentials. Amazon has launched its newest Echo Device, the Amazon Echo 4th Generation. I received one to review in my home for a few weeks.
This version has some changes over previous Echo devices, so in this review we’ll look at what’s new and what using one of these new Echos is like.
Echo 4th Generation: new look, better sound, temp sensor
Amazon’s Echo is a smart speaker that can control your smart home gadgets like lights, thermostats, and TVs; plus it can also respond to questions and help out with household tasks like setting timers and alarms, doing conversions, and delivering news, weather, and more to your speaker just by you asking.
The most visible change in the new Echo is the new round design. Now a sphere shape, it’s a little more attractive. With a fabric cover, it now looks a little softer overall. An LED light ring at the base of the sphere that reflects off of surfaces adds to the look, and the controls are now more visible across the top.
The other new element in the Echo is better speaker quality. We’ll get to how it sounds in a minute, but the speaker is Dolby Audio compatible with a 76mm (3.0″) woofer and dual front firing 20mm (0.8″) tweeters. These tech specs are almost identical to the 3rd gen. Echo, except the new one adds a second tweeter.
How is the new Echo different from new Echo Dot?
If you’re shopping for this device, you may end up confused; the new Echo and the smaller Dot look almost identical now. Where before, the Echo was a tall cylinder shape and the Dot was a short puck shape, now they could be twins in most photos. The main difference is the size (and some versions of Dot have a digital clock face too). Both devices are spherical with the new fabric wrap, but on the inside the Dot is a bit less powerful than the full size Echo. Either way, when you’re shopping, make sure to double check which one you’re ordering.
Sound quality of the Amazon Echo 4th Generation
I currently own two Echo devices: the 2nd Gen. Echo Plus, and the Echo Studio. The older Echo Plus speaker quality was just fine, but I know Amazon has made improvements. The Echo Studio by comparison is a premium speaker that sounds awesome, so I’m curious to see where the 4th Gen. Echo fits in.
I tested a bunch of audio content on the all-new Amazon Echo 4th Gen. speaker. Mainly I connected it to an Amazon Fire TV Cube and used it as a TV speaker in my kitchen. I also used it to play music and podcasts, plus audio books.
The all-new Amazon Echo 4th Gen. definitely sounds better than my old Echo Plus; it’s crisper and clearer, and sounds less tinny. When it comes to music, the sound is crisp and clear, and overall it sounded great. I was also surprised at how strong the bass is.
Amazon Echo 4th Gen. with temperature sensor
Amazon has added a built-in temperature sensor to this device. Amazon says this is so you can create temperature-related routines.
When it comes to routines for the temperature sensor, they feel like a bit of a letdown. I really wanted to set the Echo to text or e-mail me if the temperature in my house drops below a certain level so if my furnace ever shut off in the winter I would know and could keep everything from freezing, but the closest I can get is to have Alexa send me a notification inside the Alexa App.
Other options for alerts and temperature actions include if the temperature inside the house hits a certain temp, you can get a weather forecast, or play the news. The other option is for Alexa to say something… which won’t help if you’re not at home.
Using Echo for smart home control
The all-new 4th Generation Echo, like the previous Echo Plus, has a built-in smart home hub. That means that for some smart home devices, you don’t need an extra hub or bridge. With the built-in Echo hub, you can connect compatible Zigbee devices or things like Ring Smart Lighting products (which ordinarily need a separate Ring hub) to voice control lights, locks, and sensors.
You can also create a stereo pair if you want more room filling sound, and you can use the Echo as I did as a TV speaker by connecting it to a Fire TV device.
If you want to check out the instructions, you can find them here.
Overall review of the Amazon Echo 4th Gen.
Overall I can say I enjoy having Amazon Echo devices in my home; they’re easy to set up and use, and they connect to a whole host of smart home devices. They work great as speakers for music or podcast audio.
Should you upgrade to the 4th Generation if you already have an Echo?
In my opinion, no; the biggest change is in the looks, with a small upgrade to the speaker quality. But if you’re considering upgrading from something like an older Echo, or want to get started with a digital voice assistant, this is a great entry model. Find the Amazon Echo 4th Gen. on BestBuy.ca.