Review: new 4th gen Amazon Echo & Echo Dot with Clock

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Erin Lawrence

amazon, echo, with clock, 4th, gen, generation, reviewSmart digital assistants have come a long way. Once pricey novelties, today they’re almost home essentials. They’re evolving to be not just smart speakers, but home automation bots, premium level audio devices, and they blend better into home decor. Amazon has launched its newest Echo Device, the Amazon Echo 4th generation. I received both a full sized 4th gen Amazon Echo and the smaller 4th gen Amazon Echo Dot with Clock.
This iteration 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.

All new Amazon Echo 4th generation (2020): new look, improved sound, temperature sensor

By now you know that an Echo is a smart speaker, that can control your smart home gadgets like lights, thermostats and TVs, plus it also has digital butlering capabilities like answering questions, setting timers and alarms, doing math and conversions and delivering news, weather traffic and more to your speaker just by you asking. You can even place Amazon.ca orders.

By the way, the device itself is simply called the Echo, while other versions go by Dot, Studio and Show. Alexa is the name of the digital assistant who’s at your service 24/7.

4.8

Summary

Easy to setup and use and they connect to a legion of smart home gadgetry. They work great as speakers for music or podcast listening. If you’re looking to upgrade from something like an older Echo Dot, or to start with a digital voice assistant, this is a great entry point.

The Echo is great for smaller spaces and people looking for a bit more in the audio department, while the Dot with Clock is just as useful for substantially less. Either way I like these Echo devices and can recommend them for your smart home.

See my hands-on review

What’s new with 4th generation Echo?

The most noticeable difference in the new Echo versus older models is the new spherical design. Now a circular shape, it’s a little more sculptural. With a fabric wrap (100% post-consumer recycled fabric, 100% recycled die- cast aluminum, and 50% post-consumer recycled plastic) around most of the outside, it looks a little softer and a bit less techy. An LED light ring at the base of the sphere that reflects off of surfaces adds to the cool modern look, and the controls are now more visible across the top.

The other new element in the Echo is improved speaker quality and audio performance. We’ll get to how it sounds in a sec, 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.

There’s also a new temperature sensor in this unit.

Setting up Amazon Echo

Getting Echo devices set up is extremely easy. Plus it in and wait for it to power up. Log into or sign up for an account in the Alexa app, and your Echo will do the rest, popping up the set up sequence for you. I was ready to go instantly.

Sound quality of Amazon Echo 4th gen

The most current Echo devices living in my home are the 2nd gen Echo Plus and the Echo Studio. The older Echo Plus speaker quality was just fine for a speaker its size, but I know Amazon has made improvements since that was released a few years ago. The Echo Studio by comparison is a big, premium speaker that sounds awesome, so I’m interested to see where the 4th gen Echo fits in.

I played a variety of content on the all new Amazon Echo 4th gen speaker. Primarily I hooked it up 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 and small. The Echo gives good clear dialogue and integrates seamlessly by the way with my TV. The bass is also surprisingly good too. To hear for yourself, check out the review video, above.

Temperature sensor

New to this device as far as I can tell is a built in temperature sensor. Amazon says this is so you can create temperature-related routines. (You’ll need to wait until about an hour after set-up to try this feature.) You can also just get a reading by saying, “Alexa, what’s the temperature in here?”

amazon, echo, with clock, 4th, gen, generation, reviewWhen it comes to routines around the temperature sensor, they seem kind of… disappointing. I was hoping I could set the Echo to text or email me if the temp in my house drops below a certain level so if my furnace ever shut off in the winter I 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 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 wouldn’t help if you’re not at home.

After you set up your Echo, go to the Smart Home section of the Alexa app to find the temperature sensor. Add the temperature sensor to a new or existing smart home group, and then you can ask Alexa for the temperature of the room your device is in.
Note: It can take up to 45 minutes to calibrate the temperature sensor. For the most accurate temperature reading, place your device away from any heating or cooling sources (such as windows).

You can create routines for your Echo. Routines are a series of smart home or other commands that get executed when you say a specific phrase or when something happens to trigger it.

To create a temperature-specific Routine in the Alexa app on your mobile device:

  • Go to the menu and select Routines.
  • Select the + icon in the top right corner.
  • Select When This Happens, and then choose how to trigger the Routine. For sensor routines, select your installed motion or contact sensor.
  • Select Add action, and then choose which action it completes. To receive a push notification when a motion or contact sensor is triggered,select Send notification.
  • Under From, select which device controls the routine.
  • Tap Create.

Tip: To modify or delete a Routine, go to the Routines section in the Alexa app. Choose a Routine listed in the Enabled section to make your changes.

amazon, echo, with clock, 4th, gen, generation, reviewHow does Amazon Echo work?

Amazon Echo answers to the name of your digital assistant, Alexa. By calling on her, you can ask for whatever you need. The on board microphone is always listening and waiting for you to call on it, and it uses the speaker to respond to you. Echo is cloud-linked so it will never run out of storage and doesn’t need to download updates. Alexa can even hear you and reply while music is on.

What can you do with Amazon Echo?

Personal digital assistants can do lots of tasks for you such as:

• play music; whether you ask for a song, an artist, a genre or an album, Alexa can find it.
• adjust volume
• control your smart home devices like thermostats, and smart lights
• get current news, weather and traffic info
• convert recipes and measurements
• set timers and alarms
• make phone calls
• use multiple Echo devices as an intercom system

Using Echo for smart home control

The all new Echo, like the previous Echo Plus has a built-in smart home hub. That means that for some gadgets, you don’t need an extra hub or bridge. With the 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.

amazon, echo, with clock, 4th, gen, generation, review

How to create a stereo pair with Amazon Echo

You can create a stereo pair if you get two Echo devices. This is a great way to get more room filling stereo sound into your space. Here’s how:

  • Open the Alexa app
  • Select Devices
  • Select plus
  • Select Set Up Audio System
  • Select Stereo Pair, then follow the on-screen instructions

How to create Alexa Home Theatre or use Alexa as a TV speaker

I’ve found it very helpful to have Echo as a TV speaker on my older kitchen set up. Paired with a fire TV Cube, the Echo gives me way better sound than the tinny tiny TV speaker. Full instructions on how to do this can be found here.

amazon, echo, with clock, 4th, gen, generation, review

Additional features of Echo Dot with Clock

Amazon’s Echo Dot is a compact mini version of the Echo. It does all the same smart home and digital assistant things as the Echo; the major differences are that the Dot has a digital LED clock, and that the speaker is smaller and less powerful. The Dot with Clock has a single 41mm (1.6″) speaker only.

While previous Echo Dots have been understandably less high fidelity that their larger Echo counterparts, this version of the Dot with Clock sounds about the same. It’s not as powerful and there’s less detail in the audio overall. The Echo Dot is designed to be a bridge device in my opinion; you add it somewhere you need digital assistant smarts, or have minimal space. It’s not meant to be a high quality speaker. You can adjust the clock’s brightness too.

4th generation Echo Dot with Clock audio quality

For me the speaker sounds good and it does seem a little less thin-sounding than the original Dot. It gets good and loud; if anything is missing, I’d say it’s the bass. There’s more of a buzz than a bass-y rumble or resonance. It’s not terrible though and I’d say most folks probably wouldn’t mind the overall sound quality of the Dot with Clock.

When it comes to putting these two speakers head to head to see if one is better; it really comes down to speaker size and power; you get a bit more oomph with the Echo over the Dot. Unless you think you’re going to be able to detect minute differences in the audio quality, or you’re using your device in a larger room you could save about $60 by just getting the Dot.

amazon, echo, with clock, 4th, gen, generation, reviewOverall review: Amazon Echo (4th gen) and Echo Dot with Clock (4th gen)

Overall I can say I like Amazon Echo devices; they’re easy to se tup and use and they connect to a legion of smart home gadgetry. They work great as speakers for music or podcast listening. I wouldn’t say this iteration is worth upgrading to if you already have, say a 3rd gen Echo: there’s just not enough new or that’s better to justify that in my opinion: the biggest change is in the looks. But if you’re looking to upgrade from something like an older Echo Dot, or to start with a digital voice assistant, this is a great entry point.

The Echo is great for smaller spaces and people looking for a bit more in the audio department, while the Dot with Clock is just as useful for substantially less. Either way I like these Echo devices and can recommend them for your smart home.

Amazon Echo 4th gen sells for about $129CAD. And the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock 4th gen sells for about $69CAD. Not surprisingly you can get them both from Amazon… or Best Buy.

*A note about Affiliate Links: Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader (since I’ll almost always include a link to the company website or similar anyway) in case you want to read more or purchase but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you chose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using this link.

1 Comment

  1. Buck on September 12, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    I can’t find the ‘smart hoe section of the Alexa app’.

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