echo auto vs echo input vs echo dot

Echo Auto vs Echo Input vs Echo Dot: 2021 Update

In Amazon Alexa, Echo Auto, Echo Dot by Tim Brennan

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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?

echo auto vs echo input vs echo dot

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.

However…

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. 

2021Update: As of this writing, it looks like Amazon has discontinued the Echo Input, although the Echo Link 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:

Echo Dot
Voice Assistant
Dimensions: 3.9” x 3.9” x 1.7” (99 mm x 99 mm x 43 mm)
Weight: 10.6 oz. (300 grams)
Colors: Charcoal, Heather, Sandstone
Music/Weather/ News:Yes
Built-in speaker: Yes
Lists:Yes
Alarms/Timers: Yes
Shopping:Yes
Games: Yes
Location Aware: No
Hands-Free Calls: Yes
Alexa-Enable Your Speaker: No
Echo Auto
On the Road
Dimensions: 3.3” x 1.9” x 0.5” (85 mm x 47 mm x 13.28 mm)
Weight: 1.6 oz (45 grams) A
Colors: Black
Music/Weather/News:Yes
Built-in speaker: Ye
Lists:Yes
Alarms/Timers: Yes
Shopping: Yes
Games: Yes
Location Aware:Yes
Hands-Free Calls: Yes
Alexa-Enable Your Speaker: No
Echo Input
Dumb Speaker Smarts
Dimensions: 3.1” x 0.5” (80 mm x 13.8 mm)
Weight: 2.75 oz. (78 grams)
Colors: Black and White
Music/Weather /News:Yes*
Built-in speaker: No
Lists:Yes*
Alarms/Timers: Yes*
Shopping: Yes*
Games: Yes*
Location Aware:No
Hands-Free Calls: Yes*
Alexa-Enable Your Speaker :Yes

* When paired with your own existing Bluetooth or wired speaker


What Echo Auto Can and Can’t Do

echo auto vs echo input vs echo dot

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.

Can do

  • Turn by turn navigation via Waze and Apple Maps
  • Music, weather, sports
  • Hands-free calling 
  • Location-aware smart device control

Can’t do

  • Enable an existing speaker with Alexa
  • Google Maps

Where To Get It

You can pick up the Echo Auto over at Amazon.


What Echo Dot Can and Can’t Do

echo auto vs echo input vs echo dot

The Echo Dot is Amazon’s littlest smart speaker. It is currently available in multiple generations, but the latest and best-sounding speaker is the 4th generation. It features an improved spherical design, better sound, and it is still one of the most affordable ways to bring Alexa into your home. I like the one that has a built-in clock (pictured above).

Reed from Smart Home Solver does a nice job with his review of the Echo Dot 4th Gen.

Can do

  • Music, weather, sports
  • Alarms and timers
  • Smart device control

Can’t do

  • Location-aware smart device control 
  • Turn by turn directions (without some hack)
  • Make a dumb speaker smart 

Where To Get It

Grab your Echo Dot at Amazon here.


What Echo Input Can and Can’t Do

echo auto vs echo input vs echo dot

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

Can do 

  • Adds Alexa to your favorite speaker
  • Connect via 3.5 mm cable (included)
  • Connect to compatible Bluetooth speakers 

Can’t do 

  • Anything without an external speaker 
  • Connect to a wifi-only speaker 

Where to Get It

You can see if Echo Input is back 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 include an Alexa-in-Your-Car alternative to the Echo Auto, the Garmin Speak. Also, all indications point to Amazon having discontinued the Echo Input so I removed the link to it.  The Echo Link may be useful for some former input applications.  Finally, I’ve added the latest generations of the Echo Dot. While I’m not wild about the design, it does sound a tad better than the Echo Dot 3rd Generation based on my testing.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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 a 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 was one of the first Echo Auto users but like many, I was on Amazon’s waiting list for months, so I was pretty pumped when it finally arrived. While other options like Roav Viva exist, this really is the best way to get Alexa in your car IMHO.  Now, you can just head on over to Amazon and snatch one up.

You can read my full review of Echo Auto here.


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 these posts:


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 initially waited [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.

I tried this and it worked surprisingly well, even with my hotspot. No good for directions though. I am happily using my Echo Auto now instead.


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.


Related Links

You may also enjoy some of my other Echo posts:


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echo auto vs echo input vs echo dot