An Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen.) on black background

Besides being a giant in online retail, Amazon is a major player in smart devices. And for this holiday season, the company has a bunch of new devices—and solid deals for shoppers. 

The biggest news is the redesign of the Echo and Echo Dot speakers. Gone is the familiar cylindrical styling of seasons past, replaced by a sleek globe shape.

These speakers sound somewhat better than their predecessors, according to Consumer Reports' testers. Amazon is also launching a new smart speaker with a screen, the Show 10. While the new model is not yet available, its highly rated predecessor is now on sale.

Our testers also give solid ratings to Amazon's Fire tablets as well as the company's Ring doorbells. You can order these products from Amazon, but most of the best deals can be found at other retailers, such as Best Buy.

We are updating all our Cyber Monday coverage as we find new offers, so be sure to check back often.

Go to Consumer Reports’ Holiday Gift Guide for info on holiday deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

Smart Speakers

Amazon Echo (4th gen.)

    The newest Echo looks radically different from its predecessors, with globelike styling replacing the now-iconic cylinders. Its smart speaker capabilities haven't changed much, mostly because the Echo, like all smart speakers, relies on the company's cloud servers to do the digital heavy lifting.

     

    The Echo is improved with a new Zigbee smart home hub that allows you to control compatible devices without using an app. (Many other connected devices that connect to WiFi can be controlled by smart speakers without Zigbee.) The sound quality is also noticeably better than the previous version’s, with better bass and clearer trebles.

     

    If you listen to a lot of music, you might consider the more expensive but even better-sounding Echo Studio.

     

    CR's test results: Amazon Echo (4th generation)

    Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen.) Smart Speaker

      This previous-generation Echo Dot is the cheapest way into the Alexa smart speaker universe, even at full price. This deal is a no-brainer if you want an Echo for its smarts, as opposed to its sound quality. Just note that if you order from Amazon, it will take 3-6 months to ship.

       

      Alexa lives in the cloud rather than on the device itself, and this speaker is perfectly fine for listening to podcasts, getting a weather report, ordering a pizza, or doing other smart speaker tasks. It’s just not an ideal vehicle for listening to music. This fall, Amazon introduced a new, globe-shaped Echo Dot that sells for $50. The sound on that speaker is somewhat improved, but not enough to make it a good choice for playing music.

       

      CR's test results: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation) smart speaker

      Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen.)

        The latest version of the Echo Dot features new styling, a spherical look that's a shrunken version of the larger and more expensive Echo, which is also new. In terms of smart speaker performance, the Dot hasn't changed much from its hockey-puck-like predecessor, and still works about as well as the company's more expensive models. That's because most of Alexa's heavy duty artificial intelligence work is done on Amazon's cloud servers. Which makes the Dot a good value in that regard. Music is another story. Our testers find the newest Dot to sound somewhat better than its predecessors, with slightly clearer highs and a bit more bass. However, the Dot is still best for listening close-by to a podcast rather than for filling a room with music.

         

        CR's test results: Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation) smart speaker

        Amazon Echo Show (2nd gen.)

          The Amazon Echo Show, which features a 10-inch touch screen, is among CR’s top-rated smart speakers with screens. Our testers give it high marks for versatility, as well as its surprisingly good sound quality. Note, however, that Amazon plans to introduce a new, similarly sized smart screen, the Echo Show 10, before the holidays. The new model, which isn't yet available and we haven't yet tested, features a motorized screen that can pivot to follow you around the room. The Show 10 will sell for about $249, $100 more than the second-generation Echo Show, making this speaker a great deal at the discounted price.

           

          CR's test results: Amazon Echo Show (2nd Generation) smart speaker

          Amazon Echo Studio

            Our testers report that the Studio is the best-sounding Amazon smart speaker ever. It handles voices beautifully, and delivers strong bass and enough volume to fill a medium-sized to large room.

             

            The Studio features a Zigbee smart home hub that allows the speaker to control compatible devices without an app. (Smart devices that connect to WiFi don’t need Zigbee, but lots of smart lights and other gadgets do require it.) The Studio can also work as a part of a multiroom system with other Echo speakers.

             

            The $40 discount represents a good deal. And if you're considering a gift for a music lover, it's probably worth spending the extra money to purchase this speaker rather than the standard Echo. 

             

            CR's test resuts: Amazon Echo Studio

             

             

            For more discounts: Best Black Friday Deals on Bluetooth and Smart Speakers

            Tablets

            Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

              This model comes with a thick and chunky rubber case that protects it from falls, along with a “two-year, worry-free guarantee,” which means Amazon will replace your tablet if it breaks. The deal also includes a one-year free subscription to Amazon Kids+, which gives you and your family access to thousands of kid-friendly movies, TV shows, books, and apps.

               

              Amazon’s robust parental controls allow you to create different profiles for different kids, setting hard limits on what each can look at, and when and how long the tablet can be used.

               

              CR's test results: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Tablet

              Amazon Fire HD 10

                We haven’t yet evaluated this model, but the 2019 version is the highest-scoring Amazon tablet in our ratings. The 10-inch screen is bright and crisp, and has a wide viewing angle, which makes it ideal for watching movies and TV shows with friends. The battery life is impressive, too. And thanks to an SD card reader, you can easily expand the storage if 32 gigabytes seems too tight.

                 

                As of Saturday morning, it looks like Amazon will have this back in stock Dec. 9. You can still order at the sale price—it just won’t ship right away.


                For more discounts: Best Black Friday Deals on Laptops

                Streaming Devices

                Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

                  The 4K version of Amazon’s Fire TV Stick costs just $2 more than the HD version during this Black Friday sale. And it offers a nice array of content and features, including voice control and support for Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+, for the price. Bonuses include the ability to control it from Alexa-enabled devices such as the Echo or Dot and the included remote, which can be used to control power and volume on many TVs and sound bar speakers.

                   

                  CR’s test results: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

                  Amazon Fire TV Stick

                    We haven’t tested the updated Fire TV Stick, but it has a faster processor than its predecessor, according to Amazon, plus support for both HDR and Dolby Atmos 3D audio, despite being limited to HD (1080p, not 4K) video. (Formats include HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG.) The player also comes with an updated voice-enabled remote control; in addition to working with Amazon’s Alexa voice-powered digital assistant, it includes power, volume, and mute buttons that let you control a compatible TV, sound bar, or receiver.

                    Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

                      This model was introduced in the fall, so we haven’t tested it yet. Like the pricier Fire TV Stick, it’s limited to HD resolution (as opposed to 4K), but lacks Dolby Atmos audio and the remote with the TV controls included with the Fire TV Stick remote. It, too, supports HDR.

                      Amazon Fire TV Cube

                        The 4K-ready Fire TV Cube is essentially a mashup of two popular Alexa-powered devices—the Fire TV streaming player and the Echo Dot smart speaker. It adds universal remote-control capability to the mix. The updated model has a more powerful processor, a faster response time, and Dolby Vision HDR. (All players support HDR10, and some additionally support Dolby Vision, HDR10+, or HLG.) Unique among streaming players is the device’s ability to control a host of other compatible A/V gear, including TVs, sound bars, receivers, and even some cable and satellite boxes. And right now the Fire TV Cube is selling for $40 less than usual, so this might be the best deal of the bunch.

                         

                        CR’s test results: Amazon Fire TV Cube

                         

                         

                        For more discounts: Best Black Friday Deals on Streaming Devices

                        Smart Home Security

                        Ring Stick Up Cam (3rd-Gen.)

                          The Ring Stick Up Cam (third-generation) is a terrific little security camera that can be placed indoors or out. It offers impressive video quality and response time, as well as strong data security, in our lab tests. It records 1080p HD video and features monitoring zones, voice control via Amazon Alexa, and two-way audio to speak with visitors. With a Ring Protect plan, you’ll get 60 days of cloud video storage, person detection, and periodic photo snapshots between video clips.

                          CR’s test results: Ring Stick Up Cam (third-generation) wireless security camera

                          Ring Video Doorbell 3

                            The Ring Video Doorbell 3 does quite well in our tests, with strong video quality and data security. Its response time is a little sluggish, though. Still, this doorbell can be battery-powered or hardwired, and it offers 1080p HDR video, voice control via Amazon Alexa, and monitoring zones. With a Ring Protect plan, you’ll get 60 days of cloud video storage, person detection, more customizable monitoring zones, and periodic photo snapshots between video clips. Best Buy and Lowe’s are selling the doorbell for $60 off, while Amazon is selling it for $50 and throwing in a free Amazon Echo Show 5, $90, which you can use to answer the door with a simple voice command.

                             

                            CR's test results: Amazon Echo Show 5 and Ring Video Doorbell 3

                             

                             

                            For more discounts: Best Black Friday Deals on Smart Home