Technology

Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation) test: our opinion

The third generation ofEcho Dot, released in 2018, has established itself as one of the best small and entry-level connected speakers, combining a powerful voice assistant, Alexa, and an ultra-compact format for a floor price of 60 euros at launch.

Well here is that its replacement, completely redesigned, invites itself on the shelves alongside the Dot of 2018 which is still marketed at a lower price. So, is the new 2020 Echo Dot at 60 euros worth it? In absolute terms it is without a doubt better than the old version. But facing the new Echo at 100 € whose audio quality is much higher, and at the still excellent and more affordable Echo Dot 2018 (around € 50), the answer is less obvious.

Design: the ball replaces the roller

Like the new Echo, the Dot 2020 adopts a unique spherical design. It comes in three colors: anthracite, blue-gray and white. Amazon has cleverly retained the imprint of previous generations, so that this new version does not take up more space. The price has not changed either (60 euros), unless you opt for the version with Led display (70 euros) which allows you to consult the time, display alarms or timers. In terms of functionality, nothing new under the sun. As on the previous versions, Alexa answers questions, controls connected domestic devices, allows you to make calls, follow your Amazon orders, listen to music, podcasts, the radio… So where is the difference?

On the left the Echo Dot 2020 next to its big sister the Echo

Sound: more resonance

In addition to its renewed design, the main evolution of the Echo Dot 2020 concerns sound. Thanks to a 1.6-inch speaker and a design that allows for better resonance, the small device is more powerful than its predecessor. But how does he fare against the competition?

Last year the

Nest Mini sounded better than the Echo Dot. The 2020 vintage of the Amazon speaker reverses the trend with a slight advantage over the Google speaker. On acoustic music at 50% volume, the Dot delivers a warm and well-balanced sound. As for the bass, which has never been powerful on this type of miniature speaker, it remains particularly weak here.

We can combine two Echo Dots to get stereo sound, but we recommend instead moving to a higher quality speaker like the Nest Audio or the Echo 2020 at this time.

That being said, we must still recognize the progress that Amazon and Google have made on these miniature speakers. Granted, the 2020 Dot won’t immerse you in the heart of the music, but it gets the job done for occasional listening and is slightly better than the third-gen Nest Mini and Echo Dot.

No real innovation

Of course, we cannot start from scratch with each new generation of product. But the lack of real innovation is still felt on the Echo Dot 2020. It is not even compatible with Sidewalk, the shared IoT network with low power consumption and low bandwidth that will allow users to connect their products outside and inside their home. This option is reserved for the new Echo and the Echo Show 10.

Competition update

Faced with the 4th small smart speaker from Amazon, the Echo Dot 3 and Echo 4 are first placed on the higher price bracket. If you want to save money, we recommend the Dot 3 which should also drop significantly in price during the promotional period. Otherwise, the Echo 4 will give you more features and much better sound for around $ 40 more.

Among competing brands, the main rivals of the Echo Dot 4 will be the Google Nest Mini and Nest Audio for those who can unlock a little more budget (the latter costs around € 100 like the Echo 4). The Nest Mini offers less good sound but it has the Google Assistant that we still find superior to Alexa, while the Nest Audio delivers better sound and includes Google Assistant but will be more expensive. On the other hand, in both cases, Google speakers cannot connect to old hi-fi devices to make them smarter and offer them voice control, which the Echo Dot and Echo all allow thanks to their auxiliary jack port. . This is a very valuable function that we were afraid to see disappear this year.

Conclusion

The Echo Dot 2020 is a good speaker. Its audio quality is improved compared to the 2018 version and its new design brings a welcome breath of novelty. But Amazon seems to have reserved its real innovations for other models in its range.

Under these conditions, the Echo Dot 2020 does not seem essential to us. It remains an excellent entry point for the Alexa voice assistant and the connected home. But for us, the Echo Dot 2018 offers better value for money. And if you’re looking for higher audio quality, the 2020 Echo at $ 100 is a more relevant option. The best bet if the Echo Dot 2020 tempts you is to wait until it is on sale, which usually happens several times a year.

Article from CNET.com adapted by CNETFrance

Image: Chris Monroe / CNET

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