Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between Alexa and Echo? Are they the same thing?
Echo is the device that gives you access Alexa, which is the voice assistant that can answer your questions and commands.
In this post, I explain common misconceptions between Amazon’s Voice Assistant and hardware, and talk about why the differences between Alexa and Echo is important to you.
Table of Contents
- Alexa Is A Voice Assistant
- Echo Is A Device That Supports Alexa
- Real-World Examples with Alexa
- Frequently Asked Questions
Alexa Is A Voice Assistant
Alexa is a Voice Assistant created by Amazon. Essentially, this Voice Assistant’s goal is to recognize human speech in order to carry out specific Alexa commands. For this to happen, Alexa needs a few things to work, like a microphone to hear you and a speaker to respond back to you. Since these requirements are pretty easy, Amazon is able to put Alexa in all kinds of different devices that have at least a microphone and speaker. That’s the reason why Amazon’s Voice Assistant is accessible on a wide range of devices—the most popular of which are Echo devices.
What’s more, Amazon is constantly improving Alexa by making her smarter and adding more capabilities, no matter if you’re accessing her on an Echo you bought three years ago or the latest Echo device from this year. Learn about some of the things you can do with any Alexa device.
Ultimately, Voice Assistants are a major staple in any Smart House where the goal is to make everyday life more convenient by adding new ways to control and interact with your devices.
Echo Is A Device That Supports Alexa
Echo is the device, or hardware, that Alexa lives in. Remember that Alexa only needs a microphone and speaker to work. Echo devices have these necessities—and sometimes more.
But as you may already know, there is more than one Echo available today, each with different features like better speakers, better microphones, or simply a better look. Amazon has an Echo line of devices, or an “Echo Family” per se, where each device has its own special features built in. These varying features serve to make it even more convenient to use specific Alexa commands. For instance, the most notable use for an Echo (or smart speakers in general) is using Alexa to stream music.
Here are some examples of different Echo devices, each with their own improvements to make Alexa shine.
|Echo Device Name||What it Looks Like||Particularly Good At|
|Echo (4th gen)||Stream music with great sound quality. Looks very similar to Echo Dot, but with better sound.|
|Echo Dot (5th gen)||Smaller size, better portability, and decent sound quality.|
|Echo Dot (5th gen) with clock||Clock has an auto-adjusting LED display.|
Displaying things like recipes to follow along to or calendar invites for better management.
|Echo Auto||Talk to Alexa in your car.|
Other Alexa-Enabled Devices
Beyond using an Echo, there are even more ways to access Alexa at home.
Alexa can be used on a slew of other devices that aren’t specific to smart speakers, such as:
Alexa is also available via the Alexa App, which grows the list of available devices she’s made accessible on. For instance, this list includes devices that aren’t made by Amazon, such as:
- Even your PC
The major note to keep in mind is that while you can access Alexa on these devices, you aren’t able to use every known Alexa command on each device. For instance, a Fire Tablet isn’t considered a smart speaker, and therefore, will not support the Alexa command “Play music everywhere.” Therein lies the major difference between Echo devices and the rest of the Alexa-enabled devices. With choosing an Echo, you’re able to get more out of Alexa.
Real-World Examples with Alexa
This section aims to illustrate how Alexa can be integrated into various aspects of your daily life, making tasks more convenient and efficient. Through these real-world scenarios, you’ll get a better understanding of Alexa’s practical applications and how its difference from Echo.
Cooking in the Kitchen
Imagine you’re in the kitchen, hands covered in flour, and you suddenly remember you need to set a timer for the bread in the oven. Instead of washing your hands to operate your phone or kitchen timer, you can simply say, “Alexa, set a timer for 20 minutes.” Alexa will confirm the timer, and you can continue kneading your dough without interruption.
As part of your morning routine, you might want to get a quick update on the weather, news, and your daily schedule. Instead of checking multiple apps on your phone, you can say, “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?” Alexa will then provide you with a concise update, allowing you to multitask as you get ready for the day.
Smart Home Control
Let’s say you’re cozy in bed and realize you forgot to turn off the living room lights. Instead of getting up, you can command, “Alexa, turn off the living room lights,” and the smart bulbs will switch off if you have a compatible smart home setup.
Having a small gathering at home? Use Alexa to set the mood. Say, “Alexa, play chill-out music,” and your Echo device will start streaming music that fits the vibe. You can even ask Alexa to adjust the volume or skip tracks without having to touch any device.
By integrating Alexa into various aspects of your daily life, you can make tasks more convenient and efficient. These real-world examples demonstrate just a fraction of what Alexa can do to simplify your routines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still grappling with the differences? The above sections are really just the tip of the iceberg of the larger complexities of Amazon’s products. If you’re still not satisfied with understanding the difference between Alexa and Echo, check out the most common questions and their answers below.
Is Amazon Echo and Alexa the same thing?
No. Amazon Echo is a smart speaker device that is readily setup to use Alexa, which is Amazon’s Voice Assistant that can be used on more devices than an Echo. For more information, see above.
What is the difference between Amazon Echo and Echo Dot?
Both the Echo and Echo Dot are smart speakers, but each has varying features. For instance, the Echo Dot is cheaper in price, but the Amazon Echo has better sound quality. See above for more details on the differences.
Where do you put Echo?
You can put an Echo device in any room of your house that will be useful for you to access Alexa. Learn more about the best places to put your smart speaker.
Do you need Alexa to use Echo?
Not exactly. Echo is essentially a smart speaker that has Bluetooth capabilities. But what makes it special in large part is that Alexa, the Voice Assistant, is readily made available in the device and can help you play music with specific Alexa commands.
Can Echo Dot be used alone?
Yes. Echo Dot is first and foremost a smart speaker that has Bluetooth capabilities where you can play music on it from your Smartphone. Echo Dot does not need any other device in order for it to work; simply plug it in and ensure you have WifI connectivity for Bluetooth to work. The Echo Dot can also work without you using Alexa. While the Voice Assistant is readily made available through this device, you can ignore her completely if you choose.
Is there a monthly fee for Alexa?
No. A monthly membership, including an Amazon Prime subscription, is not required in order to use Alexa. However, in order to use Alexa for streaming music, you need to set up your default music provider. Depending on which provider you choose, you may need to pay a monthly fee.
Can I use Alexa without Prime?
Yes. A monthly Amazon Prime subscription is not required in order to use Alexa to listen to music. However, you do need to set up your default music provider in the Alexa App in order to use her to stream music. Here’s how to find the settings in the Alexa App to make this change.
Do you need a smartphone to use Alexa?
No. You don’t need a Smartphone in order to use Alexa; however, you do need either a Smartphone or tablet in order to first set her up.
Does Alexa need to be plugged in all the time?
Yes. The Voice Assistant Alexa is accessible on Amazon’s line of Echo devices, which need to be plugged in to work. Find out what happens when Echo loses power.
Can I use Alexa without an Echo device?
Yes, Alexa can be accessed through various other devices like smartphones and Fire Tablets.
Have you grasped the main differences between Alexa, the Voice Assistant by Amazon, and Echo, the devices designed to support it? We’ve explored various Echo devices, each uniquely tailored for specific needs, and looked at how Alexa can be utilized through other devices as well. The FAQ section aims to answer any lingering questions you might have.
Still curious about Alexa and how to make the most of this technology in your daily life? Leave a comment below with your questions or thoughts, and explore more about Alexa on Smart Home Explained. Whether you’re an Alexa expert or just getting started, there’s always more to learn and discover!