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A surprising question I often get asked is: What is the difference between Amazon’s Echo Auto vs Echo Input vs Echo Dot devices?
Why is this surprising? I mean, they all sort of look the same. Two of them are roundish and they are all smallish electronic devices.
And they all let you engage with Amazon Alexa in some fashion.
They are three very different products. They all have Alexa, sure, but that’s where the similarities end. Echo Auto puts Alexa in your car, Echo input lets you enable an existing dumb speaker with Alexa, and Echo Dot is a smart speaker with Alexa built-in.
In the rest of this post, I will take a closer look and examine what each device can and can’t do.
EOY 2020 Update: As of this writing, it looks like Amazon has discontinued the Echo Input, although the new Echo Flex could be used to replace it for some applications. They have also introduced a new larger, spherical Echo Dot, which purports to have better sound. The Echo Auto is still available for purchase and there have been some great discounts lately.
Echo Auto vs Echo Input vs Echo Dot: Quick Compare
First, let’s start with a quick comparison table that compares these three little devices side-by-side:
* When paired with your own existing Bluetooth or wired speaker
What Echo Auto Can and Can’t Do
The Echo Auto is A Smart speaker for your car. It essentially puts Alexa in your passenger seat. At the time of this writing, Amazon is still shipping the Echo Auto in limited quantities and it remains available on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you want to order one, you will need to reserve one. You can read my full review of the Echo Auto here: Amazon Echo Auto Review: A First Look at Alexa in Your Car.
parristx does a nice job demo-ing the Echo Auto. Thanks for the great review, man.
- Turn by turn navigation via Waze and Apple Maps
- Music, weather, sports
- Hands-free calling
- Location-aware smart device control
- Enable an existing speaker with Alexa
- Google Maps
🙈 You can pick up the Echo Auto over at Amazon.
What Echo Dot Can and Can’t Do
The Echo Dot is Amazon’s littlest major smart speaker. It is currently available in two generations- 2nd and 3rd gen, but you may be able to find an old gen 1 on eBay. The 3rd generation Echo Dot is a vastly improved upgrade over previous versions of the smart speaker. It features an improved design, better sound, and it is still one of the most affordable ways to bring Alexa into your home.
CNET puts the Echo Dot through the paces in this informative video review.
You can read my review comparing Echo Dot 3rd and 2nd Gen speakers here: Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation vs 2nd Gen: What’s the Difference?.
- Music, weather, sports
- Alarms and timers
- Smart device control
- Location-aware smart device control
- Turn by turn directions (without some hack)
- Make a dumb speaker smart
🙈Check out the latest prices and reviews of Echo Dot at Amazon here.
What Echo Input Can and Can’t Do
The Echo Input was designed to do one thing and do it well. What’s that? To make your dumb speakers smart. And I use the word dumb adoringly of course. In essence, it brings Alexa to your favorite Bluetooth or wired speaker. Have a bad-ass Bose set up? A sweet home theater surround sound system? You can now talk to Alexa over it thanks to Echo Input.
Tech Spurt does a great job of giving us the scoop on the Echo Input. Dig the accent, my friend.
If you are interested in learning more about other Amazon Alexa devices, don’t miss this post: The Year of Alexa! 7 Awesome Amazon Echo Device Gifts To Give n Get in 2019
- Adds Alexa to your favorite speaker
- Connect via 3.5 mm cable (included)
- Connect to compatible Bluetooth speakers
- Anything without an external speaker
- Connect to a wifi-only speaker
🙈You can see the latest reviews of the Echo Input at Amazon here.
Echo Auto vs Echo Input vs Echo Dot: Price Comparison Chart
The following table is updated nightly with the latest price on Amazon via direct integration with Amazon’s API.
Click the SEE IT button for up-to-the-minute pricing. I will also include some of the other options that I mention in this review.
Note: I have updated the table below to showcase my preferred Alexa-in-Your-Car alternative to the Echo Auto, the Garmin Speak. Also, all indications point to Amazon having discontinued the Echo Input but I will update this here if things change. The new Echo Flex may be useful for some former input applications. Finally, a new Echo Dot was introduced. While I’m not wild about the design, it does sound a tad better than the Echo Dot 3rd Generation based on my early testing.
|Garmin 010-01862-00 Speak Plus with Amazon Alexa, Black, Pack of 1||Buy Now|
|Echo Flex - Plug-in mini smart speaker with Alexa||Buy Now|
|All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart speaker with Alexa | Charcoal||Buy Now|
|All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart speaker with clock and Alexa | Glacier White||Buy Now|
|Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Charcoal||Buy Now|
Echo Auto vs Echo Input: Dumb Question Time?
When doing more than 10 hours of research for this post, I was surprised by the amount of bad information out there.
This thread on Reddit entitled “Echo Auto vs Echo Input: dumb question time” incorrectly recommends the Echo Input as an alternative to Echo Auto.
Dumb question time? More like dumb answer time.
As stated above, the sole purpose of Echo input is to convert a regular speaker into an Alexa enabled device. With some serious hacks, you could make that work in your car. However, there are more viable alternatives. The Roav Viva, for example, is good one. Or you could hotspot-enable an Echo Dot and use that instead. But, you won’t get the location-aware benefits of the Echo Auto (i.e., driving directions and local recommendations). Additionally, you won’t be able to play Alexa through your car’s audio system (without some more hacks).
I’m still waiting for my Echo Auto invite and have been for months, but it really is the best way to get Alexa in your car. (I’ve done a ton of research and have seen side-by-side demos, and it’s better than Roav Viva on many levels.) Word on the street is that Amazon has begun actively sending the long-awaited purchase invitations. I hope to have mine soon, and I will update this and write a full review when I do.
Echo Input Vs Echo Dot: Um, Yeah
Same dumb question [sorry]. The thing is that the Echo Input was designed to enable your favorite dumb old speaker [read sweet Bluetooth speaker], NOT to work natively with Alexa.
Without an external speaker, this device is basically a brick.
It’s pretty easy to get once you know that, but I can understand why some people might be confused.
It looks a lot like an Alexa device too, so there is that.
Echo Dot I have blogged about ad nausem elsewhere, so if you want to know more about it check out this post: Echo Dot vs Echo Plus [3rd-Gen vs 2nd-Gen]: Go Big or Go Home?
or this one:
or this one:
Echo Auto vs Echo Dot: A Smarter Question
The Echo Auto is like having an Echo Dot in your car. Plus, you get some additional functionality that just makes sense for the road.
Echo Auto’s location-awareness features mean that Alexa can give you driving directions using your favorite nav tools like Waze and Apple Maps. Due to the ongoing rift between Amazon and Google, you can’t use Google Maps with Echo Auto though, at least not yet.
Since I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting [for months] for Amazon to send me my Echo Auto invite, I’ve actually thought about putting an Echo Dot in my car.
How would one do that? Well first you need a power supply, so if your car doesn’t have AC power [mine does] you need to get a converter. Next, you will, of course, need a Wi-Fi connection. I have a hotspot on my phone so that would work nicely.
At least in theory.
I haven’t gone there yet because at the end of the day, the location-aware features are really what I want in my car.
So I’ll give Amazon another month to send me my invite. I might also buy the Roav Viva to do a review. Maybe.
Echo Auto vs Echo Input vs Echo Dot: What Do You Think?
So what do you think of this comparison between Echo Auto vs Input vs Echo Dot? Were you “surprised” by the differences?
Do you own any of these devices now? Thinking about purchasing any of them? What do you think about Amazon Alexa?
Do you like monkeys, like me🙈🙉🐵? Monkeys are cool. But do they really like bananas 🍌🍌🍌?
Please leave me a comment below and let me know. I would love to hear from you.
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About the Author
Tim Brennan, Technical Writer & Blogger
Tim Brennan [a.k.a. "Tec Timmy"] is a senior technical writer with over 20 years of experience writing for companies and organizations in and around Greater Boston, including GE and MIT. In addition to actively writing for this smart home blog, Tim is also a regular contributor over at UniversalRemoteReviews.com. Tim holds a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University. Brennan is a father to two sons, an active blogger, a Star Wars nut, and loves a good taco🌮. There is a strong chance he is developing a crush on Amazon Alexa. You can learn more about Tim here.