Amazon’s range of Echo speakers haven’t overly impressed us, mostly because they were late to the Aussie smart home market that was saturated by Google devices and presented in a way that was very American. Take for example the Amazon.com.au marketplace – it’s…it looks like the software used by a mechanic to create invoices back in 2009. It’s an aesthetic that has carried over to its range of smart stuff, an aesthetic that resembles the way buildings/businesses look in the U.S.. We’re meant to be talking about the new Amazon Echo Pop here, and we will, but all of this predisposed dislike for the hyper-American nature of Amazon products is some important context.
When I reviewed the Amazon Echo Show 15 in May last year, I barely had a kind thing to say about it. It’s huge, ugly, and adds nothing to my life except reduced bench space. It’s not marketed towards me, though, it’s marketed at families. But you can’t shut an entire demographic out of something that isn’t explicitly a device for families. Then, I reviewed the 5th generation Echo Dot with Clock in November, which impressed me way more – mostly because there wasn’t a single UI outside of the app. And you’ve by now got the hint that I don’t like looking at Amazon software. Enter the Amazon Echo Pop.
Amazon Echo Pop
The Amazon Echo Pop was announced last month. The Echo Pop is described by Amazon as a compact smart speaker that’ll suit any home aesthetic. For $79, you’ll get a semi-sphere-shaped speaker that comes in standard Charcoal and Glacier White, but also Lavender Bloom and Midnight Teal colour options. It features a front-facing directional speaker that Amazon reckons is best for bedrooms or any small space in the home.
As I wrote in that article announcing the Echo Pop – it works exactly the same as the company’s other speakers, it just looks different. It’s kinda cute, actually, despite being pointless. But, most importantly, it doesn’t look Amazon-y and that’s the biggest win here.
Setup is easy, if you’re already an Amazon user
You plug the Echo Pop in, download the Amazon Alexa app, and add the device. I have the Echo Dot with Clock set up already due to testing the Calling With Alexa feature that Amazon dropped back in February. As a result, all I had to do was tap Agree and continue upon opening the Alexa app, as the Echo Pop was already there to setup as a popup.
Setup was complete no joke 10 seconds later and the only thing preventing me from getting straight in to use it was a few helpful tips on how to use the speaker. The Amazon Alexa app is useful – here you can add skills (such as switching on a light), add streaming service options, etc. It’s easy enough to use and far better on the eyes than the Amazon marketplace (no, I refuse to drop it).
How does it sound?
Genuinely fine. The first thing I tested on the Amazon Echo Pop was a podcast, for no other reason than I was listening to it already when I remembered I had a speaker to review and may as well kill two birds with one proverbial stone. The podcast Murder With My Husband features both a woman and man talking at any given time (mostly her, with her husband occasionally chiming in with “that’s crazy”) but it allowed me to quickly see just how the Echo Pop handles voices that are at both ends of the sound spectrum. It was clear, crisp, not muffled, and not overly screechy. There was a little bit of muffled screech when handling more high-pitched inflections, but the Echo Pop subdued these well.
Moving onto something as all-encompassing as Hotel California by The Eagles and the build was conveyed well, the gradual introduction of the instruments weren’t dampened, and with the introduction of the vocals, the instruments weren’t lost. Pop was a bit too overbearing at max volume, but was fine when dropped a little below. It wasn’t great for anything beyond rock, but again, as a background speaker while you’re working, the sound was fine. You’re not going to get $200-worth of speaker from a $79 device. The sound range is fine, especially in a small room.
Alexa is also super responsive and you can adjust the voice, as well as use the speaker as a smart home hub, no other Amazon products required.
This is a short review, but honestly, it doesn’t need much more. The finish of the device doesn’t feel cheap and it’s small enough to be inconspicuous on a desk or bedside table. It’s just the stark white cord that I don’t like, but that’s not exactly Amazon’s problem.
The Amazon Echo Pop is $79
The Echo Pop is $79. I can’t drum this in enough. I genuinely cannot tell you having an assistant-enabled speaker that sounds good enough in a bedroom/office that’s priced at $79 isn’t worth your investment if you’re looking for a light-touch smart speaker. The sound is fine, it comes in cute colours, and it doesn’t take up much room at all. The only thing you really need to ask yourself is if you’re happy with Amazon having your data. To have a smart speaker, someone’s gotta have it – your alternatives are Google and Apple. Who you trust more is your call.
Where to buy the Amazon Echo Pop
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