Many smart speakers were updated in 2020 and Amazon, which is already well established in this segment, decided to make radical changes to its successful product. The new 4th generation Amazon Echo it was launched in Brazil in September and brings some features found in Echo Plus, in addition to a new and very beautiful spherical design.
Costing R $ 749, Echo is now only behind Echo Studio, among Amazon’s most powerful models. But is it worth it to spend all that? Can I have the same user experience when purchasing Echo Dot 4, which is more affordable? I tested Amazon’s new gadget in the past few days and will share all the details in the next few minutes.
Review of Amazon Echo (4th generation) on video
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Design and controls
Firstly, the new Amazon Echo is a large speaker, it has the same shape as the Echo Dot, but it is slightly larger. This also means that the product is not at all discreet and, when playing a song or podcast, that presence is even more evident, but we will talk more about that later.
The device became a big ball all worked in recycled fabric and plastic at the ends. This look soon reminded me of Apple’s new HomePod Mini, which is very beautiful and has this circular shape. The ring of light is now at the bottom and the lighting reflects well on the surface, and is even more beautiful in dark environments. However, again I had difficulties to see the volume level through the LED which is 360, a situation that also bothered me in Echo Dot 4.
Amazon could even deliver a 360 degree sound with this new format, but the company decided not to follow that path, unfortunately. If you take this into account, Echo Studio ends up being the best option, in this case.
I believe that you will not use this, but the new Amazon Echo has a threaded hole, like cameras, on the bottom, which allows you to fix the smart speaker in very specific locations. And yes, it is possible to put it on a tripod – I found it very curious.
The device has the same controls already known: Alexa’s activation buttons, privacy buttons and volume buttons are at the top. At the rear, you will find the 3.5 mm audio input or output and the charging port; Amazon ships a 30-watt power supply in the box.
Alexa is the brain of this gadget and, as I said in the analysis of the 4th generation Echo Dot, the virtual assistant is most assertive, in addition to already knowing Brazil well. The dedicated application allows you to configure the device, play music and install skills to expand the assistant’s daily activities.
But the great highlight of this Echo, besides the sound that I will already address, is its proposal to be a home hub, capable of controlling any smart home gadget. As it works with Zigbee technology, you can use Amazon Echo to configure and control door and window sensors, smart lamps, locks, coffee makers and other electronics.
To evaluate the technology with Echo, Amazon gave us a Philips Hue lamp. And, in fact, the integration is very efficient, because I managed to make the lamp and Echo talk in a few minutes, almost seconds. You don’t even need to install the brand’s official app for that, for comparison, the process with the Positivo lamp takes much longer. But the problem is that Philips charges an absurdity for this product, but this is a detail that we can discuss on another occasion.
Sound and microphone quality
Now let’s get to what really matters. Without a doubt, the sound quality of the 4th generation Amazon Echo is considerably superior to the most basic entry models. What caught my attention the most was the presence of the bass, something quite different from the Echo Dot that doesn’t work well with that frequency.
The new design allowed for upgrades. Internally we have two 0.8-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer, so in practice, the device offers a presence sound. In addition, it features Dolby Audio processing, just like Echo Studio. The sound is very loud, but distortions can arise when the volume is turned up.
Listening to music or podcast, the product proved to be very efficient during tests and proved to be interesting to keep connected while you work, for example. On the other hand, I could criticize the absence of a 360 audio, but that didn’t matter in practice, since I was able to hear everything that was performed without difficulty.
I installed Echo in a small room with no other audio devices nearby. The microphones worked well most of the time, but Alexa was slow to respond only when I left a song playing at maximum volume. In some moments she answered without me screaming, in other situations, I had to raise my voice.
Amazon Echo (4th generation): is it worth it?
The 4th generation Echo is a versatile product and, at the same time, very direct. If you are looking for a smart speaker from Amazon with more powerful sound, this is the ideal model, if you don’t want to or can’t pay more than R $ 1,000 at Echo Studio, of course. Like the rest of the family, Echo delivers a new format that favors the expansion of sound, useful skills and Alexa as an almost complete assistant.
The Zigbee technology for connected home comes as one of the main differentials, so if you bet on innovation, be sure to consider Amazon Echo.
The new look is beautiful, but you may have some difficulty installing the product, considering that it is large, heavy and may not look good anywhere, if you are a very detailed consumer in decorations. This design also makes it difficult to visualize the volume intensity through the ring of light, a detail that bothered me a lot.
I would only recommend this model to people who are really looking for more sound, because for the basic consumer, the popular Echo Dot, which costs much less, continues to do a good job.