In this Amazon Echo Plus review, we’ll look at why the Echo Plus is a powerful addition to Amazon’s suite of Alexa devices. We’ll also take a look at the other devices in Amazon’s arsenal and compare the Echo Plus’s features to its counterparts.
What is Amazon Alexa?
Alexa is Amazon’s voice assistant. It competes with the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft Cortana. You enable it by downloading the Alexa App snd pairing it with an Amazon Alexa device. Once set up, there is also an Alexa interface (more limited than the app) that is available on the web.
Alexa comes with basic functions such as reminders and alarms, weather and news reports, shopping lists, the ability to read certain Kindle books aloud, and access to other audio and video apps, all with voice control. But where she shines is in her “Skills” which enable her to bring voice control to literally thousands of other apps and devices.
Common Across All Alexa Devices
Alexa is built into all of Amazon’s assistant devices. They all have access to Alexa and her suite of skills and perform using the same basic commands. I read a criticism of the Echo Plus’s compatibility with Amazon Fire TV control, which I wanted to mention here. This is a problem with Alexa herself, not this particular device. I know because I own all three generations of the Echo Dot, and they all struggle to interface with the Fire TV too.
This Amazon Echo Plus review examines the 2nd generation Echo Plus device. It is a significant upgrade from the first Echo Plus, and its footprint is now smaller, with improved sound.
What Makes the Echo Plus Different?
While all Alexa devices come with Alexa ready-to-go, the differences come down to these things:
- Audio quality
- Does the device have built-in speakers?
- Does the device have a built-in video display?
- Does the device have a built-in Zigbee smart hub?
- Does the device have a temperature sensor?
Alexa has come a long way since the introduction of the first Echo device. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got all three generations of Echo Dot, and there’s an obvious difference in sound quality across all three. The Echo Plus shares the same level of audio quality with the Echo Dot (3rd gen). It’s good enough for all but the most finicky audiophiles.
When I started my smart home journey, I purchased both the Echo Dot and the Google Home (not mini). As expected, the Google Home’s sound quality, being a full-size device, was superior to the original Echo Dot. By the time the Echo Dot (3rd gen) came out, Alexa’s sound quality had caught up to the original Google Home and surpassed it by a small margin.
Most Alexa devices have their own built-in speakers, but some, like the Amazon Alexa Input, and Alexa Auto do not. All Alexa devices can also be paired with a single Bluetooth speaker, but only the newly introduced top-of-the-line Alexa Echo Studio offers hi-fi stereo sound.
If audio quality is your primary concern and you don’t need or want a built-in smart hub, then the Echo Plus might not be the right device for you, but keep reading to get the full picture.
The only current Alexa devices with built-in video screens are the Echo Show, which comes in a couple of different footprints/screen sizes. While the larger Echo Show also offers a built-in smart hub, its sound quality isn’t as good as the Echo Plus.
Smart Hub Built-in
Any Amazon Echo Plus review has to highlight the device’s Zigbee hub component. This is the primary differentiator between the Echo and all other Alexa devices. Only one other device, the Echo Show, has a built-in hub as well.
The inclusion of a built-in smart hub adds tremendous value to the Echo Plus. One of the things I like is that it reduces the footprint necessary to control your smart home devices. While any Alexa device can work with standalone products that do not require a hub, such as Wi-Fi smart bulb, certain Bluetooth devices, and smart home devices that do not require a hub, they cannot match the convenience of a built-in Zigbee hub.
The Echo Plus’s built-in Smart Hub saves the expense of purchasing a separate smart hub to control things like your smart bulbs. I have a hub that is separate from my Echo Dots, and I’m looking forward to upgrading to an Echo Plus in my living room so I can get rid of the wires/plugs for the separate hub. Oh yeah, that’s another thing, once less power cord too. If your house is short on outlets like my older home is, this is a big benefit as well.
Here again, the Echo Show is the only computing device with a temperature sensor, which is also included with the Echo Plus. A built-in temperature sensor makes triggering routines to control the temperature of the room the device is located in (as opposed to where the thermostat itself is located) possible.
This is a handy feature, especially if your thermostat is located in a hot or cold spot in the house. It doesn’t give you sophisticated zone control, but it will keep you comfortable wherever you are, assuming you don’t venture far from your device.
Compelling Arguments for the Echo Plus
Our Amazon Echo Plus review has already examined the similarities and differences between some of the various Alexa devices. But why choose the Echo Plus?
It comes down to the combination of audio quality along with its built-in hub and temperature sensor. Its stylish design comes in black, charcoal and white, and its small footprint saves space on your desk, shelf or table.
This Amazon Echo Plus review has explored the similarities and differences between the Echo Plus and its other Alexa cousins. The Echo Plus is a powerful multi-tasker that’s perfect for the smart home enthusiast who is just getting started and needs a smart hub in addition to a voice-controlled assistant.
Buying the Amazon Echo Plus
- Amazon Echo Plus (2nd gen) at Amazon – $149.99
- Amazon Echo (3rd gen) at Amazon – $99.99
- Amazon – Echo Plus (2nd Gen) at Best Buy – $119.99
Did you enjoy our Amazon Echo Plus review? If so, read some of our other reviews to learn how to turn your home into a smart home.
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