Amazon Echo Pop review

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8.8Expert Score
Amazon Echo Pop review: Surprising Sound

The Amazon Echo Pop is a bargain at just $79, with remarkably full sound for such a little speaker, though the microphone struggles in noisy environments.

Design
9.5
Performance
8
Pros
  • Solid sound for such a little speaker
  • Bargain price
  • Looks great
Cons
  • Microphone struggles in noisy areas
  • Alexa can still be hit and miss

Amazon has injected a bit of fun into its lineup of Echo smart speakers with the arrival of the Echo Pop. 

The new smart speaker boasts a range of colours that extends beyond (but still includes) the standard black and white, and has a new design that looks like someone sliced the front off one of the current Echo Dots.

The compact speaker boasts the full Alexa experience, though. And given it’s priced at $20 less than the current generation of Echo Dot, you have to imagine that Amazon is expecting to shift a whole heap of these.

Over the past week of testing, it’s clear that Amazon has nailed the formula of balancing features and price in its Echo speakers. The Echo Pop sounds good, is easy to use and looks good enough to put all through your home.

Design

The Amazon Echo Pop on a bedside table next to a lamp and some cups

The Echo Pop is a compact speaker that stands 91mm tall, 99mm wide and 83mm deep. That’s only slightly smaller than the 5th-gen Echo Dot, which measures 100mm wide and deep and 89mm high.

Of course, the Pop stands out for a few other reasons as well. Firstly, there are the new colours, including purple and teal, which help the speaker better fit in (or better stand out) in bedrooms and home offices.

Then there’s the fact that the light bar, which illuminates to visually highlight when the speaker has heard its activation word, has been moved to the top of the speaker, rather than being located at the bottom.

This makes it much easier to see when the speaker has been activated, particularly in brighter environments or situations when you’re a bit further away.

Despite the more compact size, the Pop does feature a slightly bigger speaker than the Echo Dot, measuring 1.95-inches compared to the Dot’s 1.73-inch speaker. 

In order to accomodate that in a smaller body, Amazon has stripped out the motion and temperature sensors in the 5th-gen Echo Dot.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone is going to miss those sensors, though. The motion sensor in the Echo Dot isn’t responsive enough to be useful enough for reliable automation, and the temperature sensor seems superfluous in a device that accesses the Internet for information.

Like most Echo speakers, there isn’t much in the way of controls, with the idea that your voice manages most functions. You do get volume buttons and a microphone muting button, though, which are all easily accessible on the top of the speaker. 

Accessories

While I didn’t get to test any of them, it’s worth calling out that Amazon has released the Echo Pop with a range of accessories, including silicone sleeves that offer a wider range of colours.

There are also mounting bases for the Pop speaker. The USB charging stand adds three USB ports to your Echo Pop, allowing you to charge your phone or smartwatch without needing additional power points.

The Shelf Wall Mount, meanwhile, lets you pop your Pop up on the wall, though it does require being properly screwed to the plasterboard to work. 

Fortunately, there’s also a socket hanger, which takes the Pop off the bench top and hangs it from a powerpoint, discreetly managing your cables in the process.

Performance

An Echo Pop on a bench in front of a mirror with a tray of makeup ready to be used.

When it comes down to it, the Echo Pop sounds pretty good for the size of the speaker. It’s not the best sounding device you’ll ever hear, but it’s on par with the Echo Dot, while still being a bit cheaper.

Turn the speaker to full volume, and it doesn’t distort either, which is nice. Crank it up to full volume, and it sounds remarkably full-bodied, with a pretty detailed sound.

It’s understandably a tad weak on the bass front – the speaker is pretty small, after all. But it will fill a small bedroom with sound on its own and not sound terrible.

Podcasts and audiobooks also sound good, with the speaker doing an impressive job of delivering clear voice reproduction.

If, for whatever reason, you aren’t satisfied with the speaker’s audio quality, you can connect it to a Bluetooth speaker for higher quality sound.

Speak to me

It’s been a few years now since Alexa speakers first made their way to Australia, and the reality is that you get the same experience talking to Alexa whether you use the cheap Echo Pop or the premium Echo Studio.

What is different, and what I found slightly challenging on the Pop, was the microphone pickup.

To test the Pop, I set it up in my kitchen next to my coffee machine. It was actually a good opportunity to replace the first-gen Google Home speaker that kept pushing my buttons.

But the kitchen placement proved problematic for voice control. With the range hood on, or the coffee machine working, or the kettle boiling on the other side of the kitchen, I would need to raise my voice almost to a shout to be heard.

I moved the Pop to the bedroom and immediately the challenges disappeared. The challenge, it seems, was background noise. With anything running in the background – like the range hood or the coffee machine, the microphones struggle to discern that activation phrase.

Amazon hasn’t published the mic specs for the Echo Pop, but I’m guessing it’s not as wide an array as the more premium Echo devices. For what it’s worth, the Echo Dot faced the same pickup challenges in my kitchen.

And look, it doesn’t even upset me when I think back to the fact that this is a $79 speaker. It just means that it’s better suited to quieter environments, like the bedroom, rather than the kitchen.

Alexa

A close up of the Echo Pop on a pile of books

This isn’t going to turn into a review of Alexa. But it would be wrong for me to ignore the digital assistant completely, given how big a part it plays in the Echo speakers.

I’ve been using Alexa since the first Echo speakers landed in Australia. Despite the fact it offers thousands of Skills, I typically only use it to set a timer when cooking or to send my Deebot N8 robot vacuum out to clean the home.

Now that the technology is a little older, I’ve found that the shine has worn off a little. Today, if I look at potential new Skills to add to my devices, the top recommendations are for radio (which I don’t really listen to), or fart noises.

It feels like we’re a long way from an experience like the one we see in the Iron Man films, where Tony Stark talks to Jarvis. 

Occasionally, Alexa works exactly as it should and completes the task you set for it. Other times, it flounders.

An example: I asked the Echo Pop to play some Dave Matthews Band. It started an “Inspired by Dave Matthews Band” playlist instead.

Another: I asked it how much it would cost to add a ground-level home extension in Sydney. Its response was to tell me that the top result was a mini camera tripod that cost $39.99.

These challenges are not unique to Alexa by any means. But it does temper the performance of the Echo Pop when you aren’t sure what kind of response you will get from the device.

The Amazon Echo Dot on a bench in front of a mirror, next to a lamp.

Verdict

The Echo Pop is a fairly affordable way to add Alexa speakers throughout your home. 

It looks good, and sounds reasonable for such a small speaker. It’s never going to compete with a Sonos or Bose speaker, but it’s not really designed to.

In fact, it definitely punches above its weight. If you are looking for a compact smart speaker for the home, this speaker is a great option.

If you’re after a more premium sound, though, then there are other options out there.

Buy the Amazon Echo Pop online

AU $49.95
Free delivery
AU $49.95
+ Delivery *
AU $49.95
+ Delivery *
AU $79.00
Free delivery
as of 27 May 2024 7:06 am
Amazon.com.au
* Delivery cost shown at checkout.
AU $52.88
Free delivery
AU $59.90
Free delivery
AU $67.98
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $68.57
AU $79.00
Free delivery
AU $68.57
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $79.00
Free delivery
as of 27 May 2024 7:06 am
Amazon.com.au
* Delivery cost shown at checkout.
AU $52.73
+ Delivery *
AU $59.90
Free delivery
AU $67.98
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $68.57
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $79.00
Free delivery
as of 27 May 2024 7:06 am
Amazon.com.au
AU $95.00
+ Delivery *
* Delivery cost shown at checkout.
AU $59.90
Free delivery
AU $59.90
Free delivery
AU $67.98
AU $79.00
Free delivery
AU $67.98
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $68.57
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $79.00
Free delivery
as of 27 May 2024 7:06 am
Amazon.com.au
* Delivery cost shown at checkout.
Product disclosure

Amazon supplied the product for this review.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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