Siri was the first voice assistant that went mainstream, but Amazon goes all-in with the idea by bringing smart speakers with a built-in voice assistant into the market. In 2015, they release their first venture in the smart speaker industry – the Echo smart speaker with Alexa.
It is still a fairly new industry, but Amazon is already going full-throttle with this technology, while Google and Apple are also making significant investments with smart speakers.
Having the first-mover advantage in the smart speaker industry, gave a lot of advantages for Amazon and this resulted in grabbing the largest share of this very young market. Echo smart speakers have different variations with different features, and Echo Dot is the compact entry-level offering of Amazon. It syncs well with the diverse ecosystem of Amazon and is quickly becoming a household name when it comes to smart speakers.
Echo Dot 2nd-Gen was touted as the best entry-level smart speaker when it was first released and it was followed by Dot 3rd-Gen shortly after. It offers more features, better performance and promises seamless interaction with the device. Will Dot 2 be able to keep up with the hardware and software upgrades that Dot 3 is offering or will it succumb to the innovations that were implemented for the newer iteration?
The close price range makes it even harder to decide which of these two smart speakers is better for you. This in-depth comparison of EchoDot 2 and Dot 3 will reveal all the incremental upgrades that Amazon has implemented on this device, together with the design elements that have the potential to seal the deal. Whether you are looking to buy an Echo device for the first time or trying to find out if you should upgrade your existing Echo device, this comparison review of the Echo Dot 2 and Echo Dot 3 is your best resource!
Table of Contets
- 1 Standout Features of Echo Dot 2nd-Gen
- 2 Standout Features of Echo Dot 3nd-Gen
- 3 Echo Dot 2 and Echo Dot 3 In-Depth Comparison
- 4 The Verdict
Standout Features of Echo Dot 2nd-Gen
Unlike smartphones that can easily be obsolete, smart speakers tend to last longer because of the fact that there is no other way to interact with it other than voice control and some functional buttons. So they are not prone to damages and mainly run through the cloud and delivers firmware to the hardware. This is the reason why some of the early adopters of the Echo devices are still using the first-generation Echo speaker up to this day.
Design-wise, Echo Dot 2 has this futuristic vibe that doesn’t take a lot of space. It stands out wherever you place it with its color selections. It is even smaller than other compact smart speakers, yet delivers better performance and features that will allow you to power a smart home using voice commands.
This very small smart speaker is installed with 7 far-field microphones, which gives it the ability to pick up voice commands even from a source that is far from the device. So you don’t have to go near Dot 2, just to interact with it. This makes the whole process of interacting with your voice assistants even more seamless
This is the cheapest smart speaker that you can buy, which also gives you easy access to the vast ecosystem of Amazon. It is so cheap that the barrier for entry towards having a smart home powered by an Echo device is almost non-existent. This is the complete opposite of smartphones, which is why there is very little resistance to buying one or maybe even more Dots for your home.
- Echo Dot is a voice-controlled speaker that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, answer questions, set timers and alarms, and more.
Standout Features of Echo Dot 3nd-Gen
The unique position of smart speakers in terms of obsolescence forces Amazon and other tech companies to make sure that their next iteration will have compelling features, enough for a consumer to upgrade their still-working-well smart speakers. This is the reason why if you are looking for a smart speaker for the first time, chances are, you’ll find Echo Dot 3 a better option for you.
On top of all the existing capabilities of Echo Dot 2, such as voice-activated calls and sending text messages, Echo Dot 3 also introduced the voice-activated Skype calls. This is a nice feature to have, from the perspective of both Amazon and the consumers. As more and more apps are added to the features of Echo devices, the less time will have to be spent on using our smartphones, which will be more beneficial for Amazon’s position in the tech industry.
Unlike the Dot 2’s futuristic design, the design elements that were used for the Dot 3 has a modern look and doesn’t look much like a speaker. It blends well with its surroundings and the minimalist approach to the design is what makes it a nice addition to any room without getting too much attention.
Compared to all entry-level smart speakers, the Dot 3 sounds better. Some companies that are also trying to take a share of the smart speaker market is forgetting that it is a speaker, just smarter. So the sound quality should be superb and this is one of the best features that the Echo Dot 3 offers, especially if you consider the price for it.
- Meet Echo Dot - Our most popular smart speaker with a fabric design. It is our most compact smart speaker that fits perfectly into small spaces.
Echo Dot 2 and Echo Dot 3 In-Depth Comparison
1. Design Comparison
Design is where the biggest difference between the two smart speakers can be found. Echo Dot 2 has a futuristic design with edges and bold colors that stand out. On the Dot 3, this was changed to a more modern minimalist design with rounded edges and is covered with fabric that makes the device blend well with its environment
The volume, microphone and action buttons can be found at the top of both speakers. The Echo Dot2 is made of a plastic exterior that we think looks better than the softer design covered in fabric on the Echo Dot3.
The color choices are very different for both devices. Echo Dot2 only has Black and White colors to choose from, which are really nice, because they stand out and look futuristic. The Echo Dot3, on the other hand, has Charcoal, Heather Gray and Sandstone. Almost ⅓ of the device is covered in fabric and it uses very conservative colors that allow it to blend well with the surroundings.
As for the size and weight, Echo Dot2 is smaller with a measurement of 32mm in height and 83.5mm in width. The Echo Dot 3 has a measurement of 43mm in height and 99mm in width. Dot 2 is also lighter, almost by half, weighing only 163 grams, while Dot3 weights 300 grams. However, this can’t be considered as an advantage for the Echo Dot2, because in the smart speaker industry, no one really cares about the size and weight. Consumers are not supposed to carry these devices around, so better features in exchange for bulkier design is a trade-off that a lot of people wouldn’t mind.
Just like in any industry, the design will always be based on personal preference. So we will give Echo Dot 2 an advantage for having a futuristic vibe to it. The way it was designed makes it look like a super expensive hockey puck as opposed to the “mainstream” design of the Dot3
2. Performance Comparison
Unlike smartphones where the performance is measured by the hardware and its operating system, smart speakers mostly rely on its software and AI capabilities to create a seamless interaction with the user. The response rate of the voice assistant and accuracy of speech recognition should be verified and improved at a rapid rate to keep the devices competitive.
The difference between smart speakers and smartphones is that there will always be only one voice assistant across different speakers from the same company. Smartphones get obsolete because of several factors, including the difference in the hardware and operating system versions. So instead of comparing devices with their hardware, there are different performance checks that are being conducted to verify the accuracy of these speakers.
There are 4 performance checks that smart speakers need to pass and continuously improve to make their device more interactive and capable of powering a smart home. Before we proceed with the results of the tests conducted by Allion Labs, it is better to understand the parameters that were used for the tests, which includes:
- FRR (False Rejection Rate) – this is the test which was done to see how many of the wake word was rejected or was not recognized by Alexa.
- RAR (Response Accuracy Rate ) – this test checks the accuracy rate of conversing with Amazon’s smart speakers and providing the right information that was needed to be presented during the conversation. The higher it is, the more reliable the information a smart speaker can provide.
- WWDD (Wake Word Detection Delay) – a good smart speaker should be able to respond instantaneously with the wake word and deliver the results that were being asked. The slower a device responds, the lower it ranks in the test result.
- FAR (False Alarm Rate) – this is conducted to see how many times these smart speakers were activated without intentionally using the wake word. When having a long conversation with someone, it is not hard to use the wake word or similar sound that could trigger the speaker to perform actions.
The passing rate for WWDD is less than 1 second, and Amazon’s Alexa passed it by recording 0.1-second WWDD, which is currently the fastest amongst smart speakers. Alexa also passed the FFR with only the device playback category falling a bit short by only 4%. RAR is where Alexa suffers the most, out of all the categories, it only passed the device playback and recorded 2% above the passing rate. Alexa also passed the FAR and was only falsely activated 2 times after 24 hours of testing.
If you noticed, most of the categories where Alexa has passed only required the wake word and there is still some work that needs to be done for its speech recognition. There is nothing wrong with it because as mentioned, smart speakers are still in the very early stages of development and unlike software that needs constant updates to get better, voice assistants get better as more and more people interact with it.
Performance-wise, there is no winner between Echo Dot 2 and Dot 3. These devices will always be as smart and are not prone to being sluggish over time. These devices use the same software and voice assistant, so it is an even match for this aspect.
3. Features Comparison
Smart speakers from the same company will always be the same when it comes to what the voice assistant can do. The only differences will be the mic, speakers, and apps that a smart speaker has access to. So for a consumer to upgrade their existing Echo Dot 2 to the 3rd-generation Echo Dot, there has to be a compelling reason, huge hardware upgrade, and software improvements.
When Echo Dot 2 was released, it features 7 far-field mic, which gives it the ability to detect voice that came from a source far from the device. So critics were quick to point out that Dot 3 was only released with 4 far-field mics. This may seem like a downgrade from the previous iteration, but our interaction with both devices say otherwise. Having 4 mics work just as fine, if not better than the 7 far-field mics that are installed in Dot 2. This is due to the design and positioning of the mics on the Dot3, which was improved and optimized based on the previous iteration.
There is not much difference between the features of both speakers, other than the added ability on Dot 3 for voice-activated Skype calls. You can still power a smart home using both speakers, It still allows you to make calls and send texts.
The Drop In feature is accessible for both device and this is the feature that allows your Echo device to connect to another Echo device for better and faster communication. This is useful when trying to talk to a friend who also uses another Echo device, or simply broadcasting something all over the house.
Differences when it comes to the features of these speakers are so small that it is barely noticeable even with both devices placed with each other. So if you have a 2nd-generation Echo Dot, it is almost certain that you will not have any benefit on upgrading, when it comes to the features.
- Meet Echo Dot - Our most popular smart speaker with a fabric design. It is our most compact smart speaker that fits perfectly into small spaces.
4. Alexa Accessibility
Alexa is the voice assistant that powers all Echo devices and this software runs on the cloud and is sent to all existing Echo devices through firmware. What this means is that the experience you will get from the high-end Echo device will still be the same with the 2nd generation Echo Dot. Accessing Alexa and the ecosystem of Amazon is uniform on all devices, so this should not be a factor that can affect your buying decisions.
What is important is that Amazon continues to refine its Echo Dot with Alexa software that is more mindful of accessibility needs. This includes all the features that will assist consumers with vision, hearing, mobility, and speech, allowing it to be more interactive and accurate with its responses.
5. Sound Quality Comparison
The sound quality is another huge difference between the Echo Dot 2 and Dot 3 is. These are smart speakers and what they do is produce sounds, more than anything else. Dot 3 received a major upgrade when it comes to the audio quality, but not as much as you think.
The 3rd-generation Echo Dot has a single 1.6-inch speaker with a 360-degree sound, which means that it will sound the same regardless of where you are in the house. The 2nd-generation only has a 1.1-inch speaker and comes out from the multiple portholes found on the device.
As Amazon claims, the third-generation Dot is at least 70% louder than the previous generation, which may sound like a huge reason to opt for the newer device, but we will address this later in the connectivity section.
It’s undeniable that the third-generation Echo Dot is far more superior when it comes to sound quality. The second generation also works just as fine, especially for casual use. If you intend to use them to stream music, however, you will be better off to have a standalone speaker that sounds a lot better and costs less than these speakers.
7. Power Usage Comparison
Echo Dot 2 uses a Micro-USB port to power the device, while the Echo Dot 3 relies on a direct power port. If you think that the 3rd-generation sounds so much better, then you should not expect otherwise. The 2nd-generation only uses 9 watts of power, while the 3rd-generation uses 15 watts.
If you think what we are thinking, the 70% louder sound, which Amazon said is an improvement with the Echo Dot 3, is partly because it consumes 70% more power as well. This is the reason why we are giving the win on this aspect to the 2nd-Generation Echo Dot.
8. Connectivity Comparison
This is the section that levels the playing field for both the Dot 2 and Dot 3. Both of these devices feature a 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection. There’s nothing exciting about the 3.5mm audio jack and Wi-Fi connection. The Bluetooth capability, on the other hand, is where things get interesting.
As you have noticed from all the sections that we have reviewed, there are only two distinct differences between the two smart speakers; design and audio quality. Design is based on personal preference. For the audio quality, however, if you have a spare wireless speaker, you can connect both of these devices to have better sound quality.
Although the 3rd-generation Echo Dot boasts with better and louder audio, it’s still far from achieving the quality of standalone speakers. That is the reason why if you have a spare wireless speaker at home, Echo Dot 2 will work just fine and it saves you the trouble of upgrading to a new device.
9. Pricing & Availability Comparison
The 2nd-generation Echo Dot is a cheaper option and is often being sold at much higher discounts, which further reduces the barrier for entry into the smart speakers. However, this may not last long as the 2nd-generation Echo Dot is close to the end of its cycle and will be removed from the market soon.
As for the 3rd-generation Echo Dot, it will always be available on Amazon and 3rd-party sellers until another better iteration is introduced to the market. So if you are planning to get this device, there’s no rush for it, as it will be available for the foreseeable future.
There is no doubt that Echo Dot 3 is a much better smart speaker and is one of the top devices in the smart speaker industry. Is it worth the price? Definitely! There are smart speakers more inferior to the 3-generation Echo Dot that are being sold for a much higher price. If this will be your first time to buy a smart speaker, get the latest and best that Amazon is offering when it comes to entry-level compact smart speakers.
If you already have the 2nd-generation Echo Dot and are planning to upgrade, you may want to reconsider. The features upgrades are too incremental to shell out extra cash for another device. Since smart speakers are not prone to obsolescence, the 2nd-generation will still be as smart as the 3rd-generation.
Echo Dot 2 and Echo Dot 3 are two popular, best-selling and functional smart speakers on the market. If you’re looking for a reliable product, you can’t go wrong with these two. If this is your first purchase, we recommend getting the Echo Dot 3.
Sure, there are some features that you want your smart speaker to have such as better sound quality, but a standalone speaker connected to your Echo Dot will do the trick and make it sound even better.
You don’t like how the 2nd-generation looks? That’s fine, there are thousands of accessories that you can use for your device to make it look better and suit your taste for design.