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Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) – The Best Budget Smart Speaker?

Amazon recently launched two new Echo speakers in India – the Echo (3rd Generation) and Echo Dot (3rd Generation) With Clock. Priced at Rs. 9,999 and Rs. 4,999 respectively, these new devices are updated versions of previous models, with new features added.

The new third-generation Echo speaker a curious beast. It is not the best-sounding Alexa speaker from Amazon, nor is it the least expensive Echo speaker (that’s the Echo Dot).

It is, however, a relatively inexpensive smart speaker that sounds better than the small, Echo Dot, but doesn’t take up as much space (or as much of your budget) as the Echo Studio. For an everyday smart speaker that you might use to listen to music, get weather reports, manage smart home devices, and add things to a shopping list, the latest Echo is more than capable.

Features

  • Size: 5.8” x 3.9” x 3.9” (148 x 99 x 99 mm)
  • Weight: 1.3 kg
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz) networks.
  • Audio: 3.0” (76.2 mm) neodymium woofer and 0.8” (20 mm) tweeter.

Design

 

Design-wise, the latest Echo is in fact exactly the same as the Echo Plus that came out last year. It’s just under six inches tall, about four inches in diameter, and has a three-inch woofer and 0.8-inch tweeter inside of it. Put it next to the Echo Plus and you won’t be able to visually tell them apart — the only difference between them is the Plus’ ability to act as a hub for smart home devices.

The top of the speaker has the standard four buttons – two for volume, one to mute the microphones, and one action button which does a bunch of things including activating Alexa without using the wake word. There’s also a light ring which illuminates for various functions. The outer side of the speaker has a fabric cover, and it is available in four colour options – black, white, blue, and grey. It’s largely the same familiar Echo experience, but with a promise of better sound at a more attractive price.

Sound

It sounds like Amazon has taken as much time over the Echo’s sonic output as it has the smart features.

The balance is decent, the bass is sometimes a bit soft and ill-defined, but it certainly isn’t lacking in terms of scale or reach for a speaker this size. It does a decent job of bulking up the mid range, too, which is where the Echo gets through most of its work, and while the treble isn’t exactly open, it is smooth and doesn’t sound overly squashed.

If you own one of the first-gen Echo speakers, you will find this one sounds considerably better, with much better bass response. Compared to a 2nd-gen model however, the difference is less noticeable, and probably not worth the upgrade.

What’s in the box?

  • All-new Amazon Echo (3rd Gen).
  • Power adapter (30W).
  • Quick Start Guide.

How to Setup?

Verdict

The new Echo does not sound as good as the more expensive smart speakers in the market. But it is half the price (and you can probably pick it up for even less, considering how often Amazon runs promotions on Echo hardware). It does lack the clarity and crispness of a more expensive speaker, with mid-tones getting lost in the mix. And its bass punch doesn’t match what the higher range speaker offers. But I don’t think most people paying a few thousand less for a smart speaker will have an issue with its sound.

In short, if you want a speaker with this feature set and Amazon Alexa built-in, the third-generation Echo is still a decent option for budget buyers. But if sound quality is your main concern, then you’re better off saving up for the Echo Plus.

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