Amazon has a full line up of Amazon Echo devices, but how do you know which one is right for you?
The Amazon Echo & Amazon Echo Plus both offer a lot of the same features but the Echo Plus does have a slight edge that you might not know about. The Amazon Echo Plus includes a built in smart home hub with Zigbee communication that allows you to control select Zigbee devices like the Phillips Hue light bulbs. Here's a run down of the different features of the Echo vs Echo Plus.
Smart Home Hub
2.5-inch woofer & .06-inch tweeter
White, Black, Charcoal Fabric, Heather Frey Fabric, Oak Finish, Sandstone Fabric, Walnut Finish
Built-In Zigbee Hub
2.5-inch woofer and .08 inch tweeter
Is the built in smart home hub on the echo plus worth it?
The built in smart home hub on the echo plus is designed to work with Zigbee smart home devices. The issue is that not all smart home devices work on Zigbee and the general trend is that more and more devices work on wifi and don't require a smart home hub at all. Our smart home light switches work with Alexa and don't require a smart home hub, just a connection to a wifi network. There are a limited number of devices that work on Zigbee and most of those devices have compatible wifi alternative devices that don't require a smart home hub at all and still work with Amazon Alexa.
What is the advantage of the amazon echo plus vs the echo?
With the built in smart home hub on the echo plus if you want to connect phillips hue light bulbs or other Zigbee devices you don't need to purchase a separate phillips hue hub, you can just buy the phillips hue bulbs and connect them directly to alexa. However even though you can connect phillips hue bulbs directly to alexa, long term if you want to control your smart home lighting with voice you should install a smart home switch as it is a permanent solution that will add value to your home. The issue with installing phillips hue light bulbs in light sockets is that if someone turns off your light switch the phillips hue bulb will not longer have power or connectivity and you won't be able to control the phillips hue bulb, this is the most common complaint with using phillips hue bulbs. However they are a quick simple solution if you are renting your apartment and want to easily add smart home control.
With the phillips hue hub priced around $50.00 and a smartthings hub that has both Zigbee and Z-wave control built in around $100 I don't see the amazon echo plus as a compelling investment vs the other echo devices. If the echo plus included both Zigbee and Z-Wave it would be worth the extra cost because of the large numbers of compatible Z-Wave devices on the market.
Top 5 Devices That Work With Amazon Echo Plus:
Design Echo vs Echo Plus: Winner Echo
Echo wins in the design category, with it's variety of trendy and neutral finishes that blend into the home the echo is less conspicuous than the towering monolitih that is the echo plus. With the different finishes the echo comes in such as Oak or Charcoal fabric your sure to find an style of the echo that matches your design style. The echo also has the popular 4 button layout that you find on the echo dot vs the 2 button layout on the echo plus. When your buying smart home devices for your home you generally want devices that blend in to your home and the echo does just that, the echo plus does not blend in, it's pretty obvious and reminds me of Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey every time I look at it.
Sound Echo Vs Echo Plus: Tie
This is a wash, as you can see above they have nearly identical specifications for their speakers. They do the job playing music but if you want high quality sound with Amazon Alexa built in you should get a sonos one, with integrated amazon alexa. The sono's one has all of the same features of the amazon echo but with the quality sound Sono's is known for.
Related Post: Is Sonos Worth it?
Price Echo vs Echo Plus: Winner Echo
Amazon is always running promotions on their devices so if you keep looking your always going to find a deal on one or the other of these devices. However in general the Echo is 20-40% less expensive than the Echo Plus.
Smart Home Features Echo vs Echo Plus: Winner Echo Plus
Both devices are compatible with over 20,000 smart home devices according to Amazon but as we covered above the echo plus does have Zigbee communication built in so it wins in this category, but the echo plus does't offer enough features or compatibility with other types of devices to justify getting an echo plus over a dedicated smart hub.
My choice Echo vs Echo Plus: Neither, get Echo Spot
Neither, if I was considering the higher priced echo plus I would go for the echo spot which has all the features of the echo but also a smart video touch screen on the front. The echo spot offers a truly unique expereince that surpases the features of either the echo or echo plus. With the echo spot you can view video feeds from your smart doorbell or smart camera, stream amazon movies, have a video chat and play song lyrics on the screen while listening to music. Amazon is adding new video features to the amazon echo spot everyday and if you get an amazon echo spot you will be able to access the new content with the echo spot. The other feature that I love about teh spot is that with the screen you can actually use it as a reliable alarm clock and know what time it is if you hit the snooze button. This feature alone is worth it to me to make the amazon echo spot more functional than either the Echo or Echo Plus.