The Echo Dot has made voice controlling your smart devices easier and more affordable, and Amazon announced the latest iteration of its Echo Dot speaker at its 2020 Devices Event. The 4th gen Dot is very different than the previous model, and we break down the differences between the Echo Dot 3rd gen and the Echo Dot 4th gen in this guide.
Amazon has done a decent job at evolving its Echo Dot speaker. The first- and second-gen Dots had a hard plastic exterior, but still maintained the hockey puck shape. The third-generation Dot softened up the design a bit, adding a fabric surround and rounded edges.
The third-generation Dot measures 1.7 inches tall and 3.9 inches in diameter. The light ring surrounds the top perimeter, and the four buttons — the action button, volume buttons, and the microphone off button — sit on the top flat surface. You can choose between four color options: Charcoal, heather gray, plum, or sandstone.
The 4th generation of Echos represents the next design evolution in Echo speakers. The Echo Dot 4th gen is spherically shaped, and it measures 3.5 inches tall and 3.9 inches in diameter (the same diameter as the previous generation). Overall, the new Dot is larger than its predecessor, which is somewhat surprising to see in a device that doesn’t have a display screen.
Unlike the Echo Dot 3rd gen, the 4th gen Dot’s light ring is located along the bottom perimeter. The four buttons are also slightly raised, and they sit on top of the sphere. The Echo Dot 4th gen has a more futuristic look, and it looks like a more expensive device than its predecessor. However, for those who want a speaker they can hide on a bookshelf or corner table, the 3rd gen Dot may be easier to tuck away in a corner and sit unnoticed.
The Echo Dot 3rd gen saw a significant improvement in its sound quality, with a 1.6-inch speaker (larger than the previous generation’s 1.1-inch speaker).
The Echo Dot 4th generation still has a 1.6-inch speaker, but it’s front-firing for better sound efficiency. Both the Echo Dot 3rd gen and 4th gen have a 3.5mm jack for connecting a pair of headphones or an external speaker.
The Alexa technology is the same in both the Echo Dot 3rd gen and the Echo Dot 4th gen. However, Amazon has announced a few new features like Alexa Guard Plus, which is a subscription-based home security service (a more advanced version of Alexa Guard), and Care Hub, which lets you use Alexa to help you look out for aging family members.
Amazon appears to be focusing heavily on climate friendliness by using materials like post-consumer recycled plastics and fabrics and recycled die-cast aluminum. Newer Echo devices like the Echo Dot 4th gen will receive the “Climate Pledge Friendly” tag, and the brand is adding other features to promote energy efficiency. For instance, Amazon is adding an energy dashboard to help you see power consumption across your Echo and smart home devices.
With clock or without?
Both the 3rd generation and 4th generation Echo Dots come “with clock” on an LED display.
We found that the 3rd generation Echo Dot with a clock is about the same as the 3rd generation Echo. The only differences we found were that, in addition to showing the time, the LED display could also show timers and the outdoor temperature, which is a nice feature.
The 4th Gen Echo Dot with LED clock also lets you see the time, alarms, and timers on an LED display. Another bonus feature we love about the alarm clock on this one is that you can hit the snooze button by touching the top of the device.
Pricing and availability
The 3rd generation Echo Dot originally retailed for $50, but you might be able to find the device on sale for around $40. You’ll see a $60 asking price for the Echo Dot 3rd Gen with Clock.
The 4th generation Echo Dot is set to premiere on October 22, 2020, and will sell for $50 at any retailer. The Echo Dot 4th Gen with Clock sells for $60, and it was released on November 5, 2020. Even though these models have yet to come out at retailers or virtual stores, you can pay for them in advance which reserves you one that manufacturers will send you upon their debut.