Android & iOS Review Tech

Amazon Echo Pop review: Alexa for less

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After I first noticed the $39.99 Echo Pop — Amazon’s newest Alexa-powered good speaker — the phrase “jaunty” popped into my thoughts. It appears enjoyable, cute, and type of glad. After testing it for a couple of days, its appears are the primary purpose I’d purchase considered one of these over the $49.99 fifth-gen Dot. There aren’t any new options; actually, it loses a couple of for that $10 worth minimize. It additionally doesn’t hear as effectively or sound nearly as good because the Dot.

However in order for you a sensible speaker to take heed to podcasts, management good residence gadgets, and reply the occasional math query in smaller rooms like a rest room, laundry room, or visitor room, then the Pop, with its smaller measurement, higher colour choices, and cheaper price, will slot in tremendous. For larger rooms in your home, the Echo Dot can do extra and sounds higher for under $10 further.

How we fee and evaluation merchandise

The Echo Pop is a semi-circular good speaker with three bodily buttons (quantity up and down and mute) and a barrel plug with a protracted white energy twine connected to a 15-watt energy brick. (Amazon has but to undertake USB-C for energy on any of its Echo good audio system.)

It has Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant baked in and may do all that brings with it — stream music, set a number of timers, set off Alexa Routines, management linked good residence gadgets, play foolish video games, and inform even sillier jokes. It additionally works as a house intercom and phone. 

The Pop has all the identical good residence radios because the Dot however lacks a few of its extra superior sensors

The Pop can be solely the second speaker to get Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Edge processor, which permits for extra native processing of voice instructions, making requests like “What time is it?” and “Flip off the lights” sooner than non-AZ2 Echos. (The latest Echo Dots and the Echo Present 15 good show even have it).

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The Pop is available in two new colours — purple and teal.

The Echo Pop is the most cost effective Echo speaker, with a listing worth of $40. As with all Echo audio system, it’s prone to see main worth cuts as a part of Amazon’s play to get its good voice assistant into each room of your home. However bear in mind, with cheap {hardware} comes many makes an attempt to promote you stuff. Whereas testing the Pop, I set an alarm that provided to upsell me on a louder alarm sound.

Setting an alarm got here with an upsell for a louder alarm sound

However, in the event you use Alexa, this, and in the event you’re good with it, you then in all probability need Alexa and its extra helpful, much less intrusive options in each room (for extra on these options, take a look at my Echo Dot with Clock evaluation).

Whereas solely barely smaller than the Echo Dot, the Pop’s flat face matches in higher on a bookshelf or desk. The addition of teal and purple colour choices, together with black and white, provides to that jaunty issue making it really feel extra like a design alternative and fewer like a chunk of tech in a room. And it’s a lot nicer wanting than the hideous Echo Flex, Amazon’s earlier try at a funds speaker to get Alexa into each room. 

Whereas the Pop has all the identical good residence radios because the Dot — it’s an extender for an Eero mesh Wi-Fi system, a Matter Controller, and a Sidewalk bridge, it lacks among the Dot’s extra superior sensors. There’s no temperature sensor or ultrasound movement detector, and the accelerometer that powers the tap-to-snooze function solely works for alarms, not for pausing and resuming music because the Dot can. I additionally by accident found you’ll be able to’t snooze or dismiss an alarm by faucet or voice if the web is out, in order that will likely be a pull-the-plug second. 

The Echo Pop (left, in teal) and the Echo Dot with Clock. The Pop has a extra refined look total than the Dot (even with out the LED clock).

Echo Pop vs. Echo Dot

The largest query, although, is in the event you’re trying to get an affordable Echo good speaker, must you get the Pop or the Dot? Right here’s a have a look at how the 2 stack up.

Sound: The Echo Pop is okay for listening to a podcast or the radio and acceptable for listening to music in the event you’re in a small room and sitting proper subsequent to it. It’s noticeably higher when stereo paired with one other Pop. However this isn’t a tool to purchase for banging tunes. Whereas the Dot isn’t, both, and truly has a smaller front-firing speaker, it has a richer sound and higher bass, so if that’s a consideration — spend the additional $10. Plus, with a Dot, you’ll be able to faucet it to pause music rapidly. With the Pop, you need to use a voice command.

If you have already got a greater Alexa speaker and / or an honest Bluetooth speaker, you’ll be able to pair the Pop to both of these and save the $10. However neither the Pop nor the Dot has a 3.5mm audio jack. If you wish to add voice management to a dumb speaker utilizing a wire, the third-gen Dot was your least expensive choice. However Amazon has discontinued that mannequin, so in the event you want that function and may discover one, seize it. (The $100 fourth-gen Echo additionally has an audio jack).

Velocity and efficiency: The Pop and the Dot have the identical AZ2 Neural Edge processor, so execute most instructions sooner than older Echos. However the Dot responded marginally sooner in side-by-side testing as a result of it has 4 microphones, whereas the Pop solely has three, so it picked my voice up higher from farther away. In case you’re placing a Pop in your desk or bedside desk, although, you received’t discover the distinction.

Sensors: The shortage of a temperature and ultrasound sensor makes the Pop much less helpful as a sensible residence controller. With the fifth-gen Echo Dot, you should utilize its temperature sensor to do issues akin to modify your good thermostat when a room will get too heat or have its ultrasound sensor flip lights on once you stroll in. Each the Pop and the Dot can set off Alexa Routines based mostly on sound detection, akin to a canine barking, water working, or somebody loud night breathing.

I could have a penchant for purple tech merchandise, and the Pop match proper in.

Measurement and form: As talked about, I favor the Pop’s look to the Dot’s. Whereas it’s solely barely smaller (3.9” x 3.3” x 3.6” in comparison with 3.9” x 3.9” x 3.5” ), the design matches higher on a desk or bedside desk. I’m an enormous fan of the brand new purple colour, too, however I’ve at all times had a penchant for purple merchandise. The teal is a bit muddy wanting, extra grey than inexperienced, but additionally extra discreet than any of the opposite Dot colours.

What the Pop? Oddly, the Pop doesn’t have the Motion button, which nearly each different Echo does. This allows you to name Alexa with out saying its title. I really use it lots and missed it right here. The one different Echo with out it’s the Echo Spot, which this machine closely resembles in kind issue (though there’s no display or digicam).

There’s additionally no choice for a clock show with the Pop. My favourite Dot is the Echo Dot with Clock, which makes use of a dot matrix show to point out the time and some different bits of helpful information. That’s not an choice right here, though Amazon did relocate the Alexa LED gentle from the underside, the place it’s within the Dot, to the highest, the place it seems as a small strip (you’ll be able to modify its brightness within the Alexa app).  

The Echo Pop’s Alexa gentle is on high, making it simpler to see and fewer dominant in a darkish room than the bigger gentle ring on the Echo Dot.

Do you have to purchase it?

In case you are already deep into an Alexa-powered good residence, the Pop is smart for the one or two rooms the place you’ll be able to’t justify spending $50 on one other speaker (or couldn’t await considered one of Amazon’s frequent gross sales).

It’s additionally a great improve for any ageing early-gen Echos you continue to have, something older than the third-gen that got here out in 2018. It’s value upgrading from the third-gen, too, in the event you don’t want that 3.5mm jack, because the Pop is quicker, sounds higher, and appears means nicer. I wouldn’t exchange a fourth- or fifth-gen Dot with a Pop, although, as you lose options.

The Echo (4th Gen) remains to be my high advice for an Echo speaker.

In case you’re new to Amazon Alexa, get the Pop if you wish to check out this good speaker malarkey — $40 is a steal for a chunk of tech that may do every thing the Pop can. Additionally, think about this if you wish to begin including good gadgets to your house and are intrigued by the brand new Matter good residence normal. That is the most cost effective Matter controller you should purchase — though it’s Wi-Fi solely, so it received’t work with all Matter gadgets. For full Matter compatibility, you’d have to bump as much as one which provides assist for the Thread protocol, such because the bigger Echo (4th Gen). 

The Echo (4th Gen) remains to be my high advice for an Echo speaker, and it’s been on sale for as little as $50. If it’s a alternative between a fourth-gen Echo and an Echo Pop — there’s no contest. Whereas the Echo (4th Gen) nonetheless doesn’t have Amazon’s newest processor, it is a wonderful good speaker and a extra helpful good residence hub. It does every thing the Dot can, plus provides Zigbee compatibility in addition to Thread, and it sounds actually good. 

Photographs by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

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