Amazon Echo (4th Gen, 2020) Review – The Amazon Echo speakers are portable smart speakers from Amazon with built-in Alexa. The third-generation Echo from last year featured a cylindrical-shape tube design with mesh fabric material.

This year, it has a completely new design overhaul and comes in the shape of a sphere. A really cool looking sphere, in fact. But there is more.

Packaging

Design & Features

It has a sphere design with a flat surface, making it steady on a table or shelf but still with that catchy, magic-ball, look. There are 3.0″ neodymium woofer and dual 0.8″ (20mm) tweeters housed within to rock the room. It weighs almost a kilo so it definitely is not the lightest, portable speaker out there but you’ll get great sound, a temperature sensor, and a built-in Zigbee hub in exchange.

Controls are located at the top where you can change its volume with quick taps or turn its microphone off for privacy (in case you don’t want Alexa to keep listening to your conversations). You can connect any device through a 3.5mm port too.

With Alexa, you can ask information like today’s weather, news, play your music, and even control other smart home devices you have at home like smart lights (Philips Hue Play, Impress Outdoor Pedestal Light, or this AU$10 smart bulb from CONNECT SmartHome) or Alexa-supported speakers you have installed around the house.

When Alexa responds to your voice command, you will see a glowy, Blue ring light underneath that reflects on the surface.

Interestingly this time, the Echo 4th Gen also has a built-in Zigbee smart hub so you can easily set up Zigbee-supported devices without the need of a dedicated hub like a Philips Hue Bridge. Combined with a new temperature sensor inside, you can create cool things such as turning a smart fan on when the nursery room gets hot (or use a dumb fan through a smart plug as a workaround).

This a good read if you don’t know what Zigbee is and why it’s really cool that the new Echo can be used as the main hub.

I have lots of Hue lights set up in my house with a Hue Bridge, so I tried disconnecting one Hue Go lamp and turning the Bridge off to test the Zigbee smart hub. Alexa managed to detect that Hue Go lamp and added it to the Devices list (without a Hue Bridge). I can then use Alexa to control the smart light.

This will save you money if you are planning to grab some Hue lights without getting the Hue Bridge. It can only be controlled using Alexa though, so some functionalities are limited compared to having Hue app support.

If you have other Echo devices set up, you can do an intercom style called “drop in” to make an announcement or speak to your family members. We have the Echo Show 8 setup in the kitchen downstairs and Echo Show 5 in our main bedroom upstairs, so I often communicate with my wife floors apart easily with Amazon’s drop-in feature.

The Echo (4h Gen, 2020) actually has a really good sound quality, despite its size. While I wish that the woofer is downward-firing rather than upward, the bass is pretty deep and satisfying. It’s also supposed to have a room-tuning feature to adjust its audio output based on the size of the room and placement. I’m not sure if it works though because there is no tuning process/setup but so far the sound has been excellent.

Amazon Echo (4th Gen, 2020) Review Conclusion

Amazon Echo (4th Gen, 2020)’s all-new design does not just give Amazon’s iconic speaker a major facelift, but it is also needed to house all the goodies packed within: a 3.0″ neodymium woofer, 2x 0.8″ tweeters, a temperature sensor, and a built-in Zigbee hub.

It packs a really good sound quality for a speaker of its size with deeply satisfying bass. When I tested this for the first time, my wife actually said “Wow” as she walked into the room. That’s definitely a good sign.

Amazon Echo (4th Gen, 2020) retails for AU$149 and is available at Amazon Australia.

Disclosure: Amazon Echo review sample was supplied for reviewing but all opinions are mine

Amazon Echo (4th Generation, 2020) Review
Overall
5

Summary

Amazon Echo’s new design is not just for the looks

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Great audio quality
  • Deep satisfying bass for its size
  • Great looking sphere design
  • Built-in Zigbee Hub
  • Built-in temperature sensor
  • Room tuning
  • 3.5mm option

Cons

  • No simple Bluetooth option
  • Requires more space to place compared to the 3rd gen