Since the first Echo, Amazon has iterated on the smart speaker several times over the years. It added different sizes and capabilities, put screens on some of them, and changed the look, feel, and design of each successive generation. As we'll see in the comparison below, the company is not above cannibalizing its older products when new ones come along.
How they stack up
Amazon introduced the Echo Plus in 2017 and updated it last year with a newer, softer design. This year saw many of its features come to the regular Echo line, while its higher-end features were absorbed and even bested by the newer Echo Studio. Is it that simple to say that the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) is dead, or does it still have a place in the Echo product line? Let's first see how these two devices compare on the spec sheet, and then we can get down to which one is worth your hard-earned money.
|Echo Studio||Echo Plus (2nd Gen)|
|Size||8.1" x 6.9"||5.8" x 3.9" x 3.9"|
|Weight||7.7 lbs||1.72 lbs|
|Speakers||Three 2" midrange speakers, one 1" tweeter, one 5.25" woofer||0.8" tweeter and 3" woofer|
|Dolby support||Yes - Atmos||Yes - Dolby processing|
|Smart TV compatibility||Pairs with newest Fire TV devices for audio output||No|
|Smart Home||Built-in Zigbee support and Alexa integration||Built-in Zigbee support and Alexa integration|
|Bluetooth connectivity||A2DP support||A2DP support|
|WiFi connectivity||Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 and 5 GHz networks||Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 and 5 GHz networks|
|Finishes||Fabric (charcoal)||Fabric (charcoal, heather gray, sandstone)|
Echo Studio considered
The Echo Studio can be paired with other Echos to create a multi-device or multi-room group, but many will find it's room-filling sound more than capable of suiting their needs. The device features five speakers, including three midrange 2-inch speakers, a 1-inch tweeter, and a large 5.25-inch woofer. It was made to take advantage of Amazon's Music HD subscription service, and it uses Dolby Atmos technology to get the most out of music formats that have been mastered for 3D.
Like other Echo speakers before it, the Echo Studio has a button that you can press to electronically disconnect the microphones so that Alexa can't listen to you, and you can also go online or in the Alexa app to listen to and delete your voice recordings. It features a built-in Zigbee smart home hub like the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) and can be used just like any other Echo to ask Alexa for information or to run routines.
The Echo Studio was built to compete with Apple's Homepod, Google's Home Max, and some of the great speaker systems from Sonos. It can be paired with another Echo Studio and a Fire TV for true stereo sound, or you can just pair one to a Fire TV to function as a soundbar. The way the speakers are arranged allows it to analyze the acoustics of your room and fine-tune audio playback to optimize sound for the space. It is also priced to sell, coming in at nearly a hundred dollars cheaper than similar offerings from Apple and Google. Taken altogether, the Echo Studio sure sounds like a compelling product.
Echo Plus just doesn't add up
When Amazon first debuted the original Echo Plus, it filled an important niche not only in the Echo speaker lineup but in Amazon's smart home ecosystem strategy. At the time, there were many more competing smart home protocols and standards, and it was often frustrating to connect all of these disparate devices together.
Enter the Echo Plus. Amazon included a Zigbee smart home hub, choosing the most popular smart devices protocol, which made discovering and setting up smart home accessories much easier.
The original Echo Plus, as well as the current generation, also had higher-end speaker arrangements than the other Echo devices, making the Plus version the best choice for those who wanted a better sound out of their speaker. However, the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) is now over a year old, and with other changes to the Echo lineup, we are left wondering if this will live to see another version.
The Echo Plus (2nd Gen) is still a great smart speaker, but it seems like Amazon is leaving the product out to dry. The newer, regular Echo (3rd Gen) offers pretty much the same look and sound, while the Echo Studio bests its speakers and still offers the Zigbee smart home hub features for not much more. Honestly, if the full-sized Echo Studio is too much Echo for you but you still want great sound, we recommend going for the cheaper, regular Echo (3rd Gen) over this Echo Plus (2nd Gen). The regular Echo (3rd Gen) starts at $50 less than the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) and offers an almost identical experience, save for the built-in Zigbee hub (which we don't think you'll miss anyway).
Which should you get?
As we mentioned in our comparison of the Echo (3rd Gen) vs. the Echo Plus, we think the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) may be headed for that special speaker ranch in the sky. It's still a capable device with great sound for its size and smart home hub integration, but the fact that it wasn't updated this year and that the updated Echo (3rd Gen) and new Echo Studio took its most compelling features doesn't bode well for the future of the product. That being said, if you can find it at a discount, it's worth your consideration.
The Echo Studio looks to really shake things up, not just in the smart speaker market, but in the good speaker market. With its speaker array and room-filling sound, we think you'll really enjoy listening to music or connecting it to your Fire TV device for an immersive viewing experience. We think the price difference between these two devices is not significant enough to pick the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) over the Echo Studio, so if you are looking for the best sound out of an Echo, go with the Studio.
Alexa goes Hi-Fi
Great alone, or with friends
The Echo Studio is about providing the best sound possible. It can do so on its own — or you can pair it with another Echo Studio and Echo Sub for a great Fire TV surround-sound experience.
Smaller smart hub speaker
Smart home support with solid speakers
The Echo Plus (2nd Gen) was one of the first Echo devices to really step up its sound game while making strides to better support smart home device integration.
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