While Amazon itself makes seven smart speakers, there are also plenty of third-party Alexa-powered devices, some of which are better than the ones Amazon itself produces. One important thing to note is that most third-party speakers lack all of Alexa's capabilities, such as Drop In and voice calling. If those features are important to you, then you should stick with Amazon's products. With that in mind, here are 15 Alexa-powered speakers we've tested, ranked from best to worst.
Amazon's third-generation Echo Dot is a marked improvement over previous models. Our biggest criticism has been addressed, as the new Echo Dot has a much larger speaker that produces much better audio, with stronger bass and a much fuller sound overall. Plus, we like the design of the new Dot; its cloth-covered exterior and softer edges are more attractive - it no longer looks like a hockey puck. When we reviewed the Dot, we liked it so much we gave it a perfect rating of 5 stars.
As part of its Black Friday promotions, Amazon is selling a bundle of three Echo Dots for $69, a savings of $80. On Nov. 22, individual Echo Dots will be half-price ($24) for a limited time.
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The Echo Plus is slightly larger than the original Echo and packed with features. The audio is far superior to that of the Echo, bringing excellent bass and treble tones in particular. It also has a built-in smart-home hub, and can control your smart devices even when it's offline.
Starting Nov. 22, the Echo Plus will be available for $109.99 ($40 off) for a limited time.
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This smart speaker (and popular holiday gift) is a big reason why Alexa is as popular as it is. While the audio from the Echo Dot is not great — you'll want to connect it to a separate speaker to play music — it's one of the least expensive ways to get Amazon's voice assistant in your home. Now that there's a new Echo Dot, the second-generation model is being phased out, but it's also being discounted; if you already have a speaker to connect it to, it's even more of a bargain than before.
The second-generation Echo is smaller and much better-looking than the original, and you can customize its look by swapping out the exterior shell. Sound quality is also somewhat improved, making it good for casual listening. You can often find it for less than its list price of $99, too.
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Amazon's second-generation Echo Show underwent a major redesign. Not only are the speakers moved to a cloth-covered back, but it has a larger 10-inch display with a higher resolution than its predecessor. The result is a device that looks a heckuva lot better. In addition, the second-gen Echo Show brings with it new capabilities (which will also be coming to the older Show) including the ability to watch YouTube via a browser, the ability to watch live TV with Hulu and NBC, and the ability to make Skype calls using the Show's camera.
As part of its Black Friday promotions, Amazon is selling a bundle of two Echo Shows for $339, a savings of $120. Starting Nov. 22, individual Echo Shows will be $179 ($50 off) for a limited time.
Our favorite-sounding Alexa speaker, the Sonos One combines excellent audio in a compact design. Plus, you can sync two Ones for true stereo sound, and they work with a huge number of streaming music sources, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, MLB Gameday Audio and Napster. At $199, it's the best price-to-performance smart speaker around.
With rich bass and sharp treble, the Riva Concert rivals the Sonos One for best-sounding Alexa speaker. The 7 x 5 x 4.9-inch Concert also has several features the One lacks: you can make it portable by adding a $49 battery which offers up to 15 hours of play time; it’s splash resistant; it has an auxiliary input; and it even supports Alexa calling. You can also connect to it via Bluetooth and AirPlay. However, Riva’s software isn’t as intuitive as Sonos, and it can’t yet handle multiroom audio (though Riva says this is coming).