Amazon Echo 4th Gen Review: Better but no longer the obvious choice
- The latest iteration’s chief competition is that the Google Nest Audio
- The 4th generation Echo has two 0.8 inch tweeters (the previous one had one) and a 3 inch woofer
Smart speakers may have taken us a step closer to ambient computing, however adding new features to the newest iterations seem to have turned into a struggle for the makers. The freshest product of this toil is your 4th generation Amazon Echo, whose USP is its spherical layout, though Amazon is also promising audio quality and speech recognition developments.
Launched in 2020, the 4th production Echo includes two 0.8 inch tweeters (the prior one had one) plus a three inch woofer. In theory, this provides the speaker better selection, however, what really matters this season is how it fares from the Google Nest Audio, its chief rival. While the new Echo is far better than the 3rd gen concerning audio quality, the contest remains tough.
To my ear, the Google Nest Audio seems better often, particularly in acoustic tracks. On the other hand, the Echo can attain far better bass response in certain songs. The Echo is louder however, which could matter to some users. In the end, the distinction is not easy to ascertain. I found it tough to inform the Nest Audio and Echo (4th Gen) apart once I had been in another room and the two speakers started playing music due to a misfire (false wake phrase recognition).
This distinction is vital, however, because the two speakers are very similar in other relative aspects. For example, the Nest Audio and Echo can adapt the sound quality to their environment and support stereo sound if you purchase several of these. The product ecosystem which runs around them is more evolved today, and Google has been able to add support for many new smart home goods, making Nest speakers as useful as Amazon’s Echos.
So, the voice ecosystem is no longer a true differentiator and a few may say Google’s speaker is much better in terms of audio quality. This is the point where the 3.5millimeter audio jack on your Echo could be an edge because surveys say many users in India have been connecting these speakers to older, dumb speakers through the jack.
Nevertheless, the 4th production Echo will have one significant change. It doesn’t amount to an”update” per se, but a new chip inside these devices makes voice processing and recognition noticeably faster. Noticeable to me though, because I have other elderly Echos running alongside this one. It’s still not snappy answer — no smart speaker has down that perfectly yet.
In sum, if you’re purchasing a new smart speaker now, the Echo (4th Gen) is one worth considering. But unlike yesteryear, it is not the only option. Even the Google Nest Audio (priced at Rs. 7,999) and 4th gen Echo (priced at Rs. 8,999) are well matched concerning sound quality, while the HomePod Mini (at Rs. 9,999) surpasses them both. On the flip side, both Google and Amazon are forward when it comes to smart home product support in India.