Amazon Echo: Buy now or wait for the Amazon Echo 2?

The FOMO is real. You've been waiting on the sidelines on this whole Amazon Echo thing, but you're finally ready to buy one. Maybe. Because there's always something better on the horizon, right?

That brings us to today's question: Is it safe to buy an Amazon Echo today or should we wait for the Echo 2?

First, let's define terms. Because there's more than one Echo, and they're all different in their own special ways.

In this case I'm talking about the OG Echo (opens in new tab) — the black cylinder that's been widely available for a couple years now, which is downright ancient in terms of tech. So the expectation of a replacement isn't far-fetched.

There's not a whole lot of information, though, about when we can expect a new model. The only real report we've seen is from Engadget, which could only peg things to "later this year." That's not overly helpful.

Here's the part that should get you at least a little interested. From the Engadget piece:

The new Echo will be both shorter and slimmer than the original, almost as if it were three or four Echo Dots stacked on top of each other, our source claims. Amazon is also softening its design with rounded edges and a cloth-like covering, rather than the current Echo's plastic shell and flat ends. And yes, it should sound better, too.

Looks better, sounds better. More microphones to understand you better. Exactly what you'd expect a new full Amazon Echo to be like, right? Lots of unknowns still; most important among them: price and availability.

So let's answer the question:

Should you buy an Amazon Echo now or wait for the new one later this year?

If you really want an OG Echo right now, go for it. It sounds decent, and it'll continue to serve you long after the next model is out. (That's the cool part about the brains of Echo being cloud-based — it gets smarter as it gets older.)

But if I were you, I wouldn't pay more than $100 for it. That's not a horrible price for a decent Bluetooth speaker (which the Echo also serves as), and we've seen the Echo dip down to $90 in a recent sale. That's also a far cry from the $179 retail price Amazon still has the Echo listed for (opens in new tab)).

Repeat: Do not pay full price for an Echo right now. If you're going to pay that much, just go for an Echo Show instead (opens in new tab), which gives you decent speakers and a touchscreen for an extra $50.

Phil Nickinson
  • Or, just don't buy one. Had mine for 18 months. Great for streaming, simple/simple/simple/simple questions. It's also great for streaming! Seriously, Alexa is dumb as a rock. Google assistant is miles ahead of Alexa. If GH is as good as it is on the phone, there is no comparison. I see a GH in my future. Plus Google is about to introduce calling with GH. You can only call other Alexa owners with Amazon.
  • I'm in the "Don't buy one" When I'm ready for an assistant, I'ii probably go with Google Home. (And evaluate what else is out there at that time)
  • It's great if you want to add voice controls to your smart home products. Now that you can have it launch apps and play/pause your Fire TV is another great addition too.
  • "cloth-like covering" looks great when new, you'd think they want it to look old and grubby after a while...
  • So the great new design innovation with the Echo 2 will look more like the Google Home?! I'm not a big fan of the GH's air freshener design, so perhaps Bezos & Co. should re-think that move. Still not seeing what any of these voice assistants can do for me that my smartphone can't. And easier, since I don't need to shout at my phone. At the same time, they're still too dumb for the kind of natural language use that would actually work for some of my non-techie relatives. That said, I still might be tempted by the first one that lets me call it M-5! 🖖
  • I don't hold my smartphone in my hand as I wander around my house. In fact it often isn't with me at all. So if I am in the bedroom, in bed, and want the lights or fan turned on or off, I could get up, go downstairs, get my phone, and tell it, without shouting, to do that. Of course if I am turning the lights off, I have to get back to bed in the dark. With my Dot, I just tell the one on the headboard to turn off the lights. I don't even have to open my eyes.
    I have a number of Dots scattered around the house, at $35-$50 ea., so I don't have to shout, no matter where I am. I'm not sure that they are very useful as audio search engines, but as interfaces into a smart home, they are excellent. You can do this with Google home Amazon beat them by a year and still has wider integration support. I think that is the key to these things. The voice recognition needs to be good, but their ability to interface with other devices/systems is paramount.
  • I think I'd still rather invest in Google home. I like what the echo can do but unless I'm going to ramp up my shopping on Amazon or they decide to link it to eBay I don't see the use for it.