When you think you've gotten your head around which smart devices are available, brands like Amazon bring out a slew of new options that promise to be better, faster, and more attractive than the previous ones.
This recently occurred with Amazon's 5th Generation smart speaker reveal and left us wondering just why the company's 3rd Generation Echo Dot is still being sold alongside now two significant updates. Is the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) completely outdated, or is it worth investing in even in 2022?
The speaker was released back in 2018, which seems like a century ago, but we dug into the offering to determine whether it could still hold its own against the best Alexa speakers on offer today. Keep reading to see our thoughts.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen): cost & availability
As said, the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) remains available to buy from Amazon and other retailers despite the fact that the brand has now released its 5th generation models of the Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock and Echo Dot Kids.
As you might imagine, the price of the 3rd Generation Echo Dot has fallen with every new release and now sits at $39.99 at full price (at the time of writing, the speaker is discounted and being sold for $19.99). In comparison, the 4th generation Echo Dot is $49.99 and the 5th generation has been released at the same price. If you want the newest Clock or Kids versions, it will cost $59.99.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen): design
Amazon decided to completely revamp its smart speaker range, starting with the 4th Gen models, so the 3rd Gen Echo Dot looks a little bit like a relic in comparison to the spherical designs of today. The speaker is a flatter, puck-shaped device that looks more like the Google Nest Mini.
This difference in size and shape isn't necessarily a negative, as many would prefer their smart devices to be as small and unnoticeable as possible. The physical controls are also clear and obvious on top of the speaker, with a ring of blue light to indicate when Alexa has been activated. The 3rd Gen Echo Dot also has the same plastic and fabric combination as later models.
One plus of the older version is how much easier it is to change the cover or mount it to the wall. On Amazon, you can actually choose to buy the Dot with a wall mount (opens in new tab) or Mandalorian The Child stand (opens in new tab). With multiple third-party options to choose from as well, the ability to customize the speaker perhaps makes it more appealing.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen): audio & connectivity
The audio capabilities of the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) and Echo Dot (4th Gen) are close to identical, with a 1.6-inch speaker present in both. The only differences in output would be down to the size of the devices overall, so the 4th Gen model may be able to give a bit more oomph.
You can pair more than one Echo Dot (all generations) to create a stereo system, but if listening to music is important to you, you may want to opt for one of the best smart speakers that prioritize audio quality. The 4th Gen Echo (opens in new tab) (the larger, slightly more expensive flagship model) also has Dolby audio on board, and the much pricier Echo Studio (opens in new tab) sports Dolby Atmos.
Outside of this, the Alexa capabilities of all other Amazon smart speakers are present and correct for the 3rd Gen model. You will get the same updates, which means your other smart devices will also remain compatible. We'll note that this may not be the case forever, though, so you might want to opt for a newer model if you want to future-proof your home.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen): our verdict
The Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen) may not be new and flashy, but it's still a very capable smart speaker that happens to be quite a lot cheaper than the alternatives. With the Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen) costing $49.99 at full price, the older Echo Dot is the most cost-effective option right now - especially when it's on sale.
If you're currently looking for your home's first smart speaker, we might recommend going for the 4th or 5th Gen models, but to those who want to expand their system or are wondering whether they need to update their 3rd Gen speaker, we would say that there's no need to go for the newest kid on the block.