Over the year, there has been a growing popularity in smart speakers, and we are seeing more smart speakers being installed in homes around the world. But choosing the best smart speaker for your home depends on several factors you should consider before getting one.
But first what are smart speakers?
Smart speaker are wireless speakers with an inbuilt voice assistant, which let us do a variety of things, like check the weather, turn off/on the lights, read the news, play music as well as controlling other smart home devices.
Currently, the main assistants found in smart speakers are Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, while Alexa is currently leading in terms of compatibility with other smart home devices. Over the years, Google and Siri have been slowly catching up with Alexa.
Being the best smart speaker, it’s not all about the smarts. An excellent smart speaker should be able to deliver impressive sound quality that could easily fill a room with rich and details audio as well as satisfying the user’s media consumption needs.
However, most companies have there owned streaming services like Amazon music for Alexa and Google with Google music. You have access to a list of other music streaming services you can go for, including names like Spotify, Tunein, Pandora, and so on.
Amazon Echo speaker (Our Pick):
The first on our list today is the Amazon Echo speaker. The Echo speaker being on its 3rd generation, is Amazon’s top-rated Echo devices. It is a smart speaker meant for controlling your home, without falling back on audio and sound quality.
For the design, the Amazon Echo sports the now trends fabric covers around the device, which of recent has been the industry standard for all new smart speakers. The fabric cover in the Echo speaker helps the Device blend with home interiors even better than the 2nd generation metallic cylindrical case.
You can also get the Amazon Echo in different colors option to fit your home decor best. You can get it in Heather Gray, Sandstone, Heather grey, and Twilight blue.
When it comes to size, the Amazon Echo speaker is quite big. With a diameter measurement of 3.9inches and a height of 5.8 inches, you might find hiding this device in tight spaces hard compared to its smaller brother the Echo dot (at 1.7 x 3.9 inches) or the Google home mini, but as a centerpiece for the living room, the size is just right.
When it comes to speaker/audio performance, the Amazon Echo speaker was impressive. It may not be the best-sounding smart speaker available in the market, but it still delivered the sounds well enough.
The Amazon Echo fire sounds at 360° direction thanks to the two 0.8″ tweeters and a 3″ woofer adding to an enjoyable audio experience. The Amazon Echo also comes with Dolby, which processes the sound and provides better vocals and dynamic bass, which adds to a richer sound.
Being an Amazon device, the Amazon Echo works with the Alexa smart assistant, which gives you the ability to read the news, check the weather forecast, sports updates, play trivia and ask wacky questions all with your voice.
You can also use Alexa as a hub for controlling other smart home devices. And thanks to the massive list of products compatible with Alexa. From big names like Phillips hue, Ring, Eufy down to smaller brands. Unfortunately, if you have a nest smart home eco-system, the Amazon Echo may not be the best choice for you, as you are better off with the Google Home smart speakers.
Some devices even allow you to interact with them with the Echo speaker. Like the Ring video Doorbell, for example, whenever your Doorbell is rung, you can use the echo to answer the door (with a smart door lock) or send a voice message to the visitor, saying you are not available.
The Amazon Echo smart speaker comes with seven 360° omnidirectional microphone for picking up all your voice commands. On testing, the echo was able to pick my voice commands even with loud music playing.
So who is the Amazon Echo Smart Speaker for?
Well, if you are someone who is just starting to build your smart home, you may want to smart with Alexa considering the amount of device it’s compatible with.
If you are someone who has a smart home built around the Alexa eco-system, then the echo should be your preferred choice. The cost of the device may also be an issue if you are trying to save some bucks, for that you can go for the Echo younger siblings the Echo Dot.
Pros and Cons Of The Amazon Echo Smart Speaker:
- Alexa Voice Assitant.
- Attractive design.
- inproved Hands-free Commands.
- Reasonale price tag.
- Average Sounding speakers.
- No in-built Zigbee Hub.
The echo is currently available on Available for $100. Buy from Amazon now.
Sonos One (Supports Multiple Assistants):
The Sonos brand name is quite synonymous with impressive Sounding speakers and has been the top dog when it comes to home speakers. But recently, Sonos has been making waves when it launched the Sonos One. The first smart speaker that saves you the stress of choosing between Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.
And thanks to the impressive speakers on the Sonos One smart speaker, it also helps to ease the decision of getting a Great sounding speaker or a smart speaker.
With Sonos One, the companies main goal was to be the best smart speaker in the market, but with Google and Amazon, all launching a new fleet of speakers the Sonos has had a lot to compete with.
If you once owned the Sonos Play:1 or you had seen somewhere, then you will notice the striking similarity in design with the Sonos One. The Sonos one has this square cylindrical design with rounded corners and 360° speaker that goes around the device.
The Sonos one also possesses something that sets it’s out from our list because it’s the only smart speaker with a metal casing. Which looks sleek, stylish, and unique, place the Sonos One at your kitchen or living room, and design should be eye-catching.
At the top of the Sonos One, you have a touch-sensitive panel for controlling media. Tapping the center of the Sonos One will play/pause songs, to skip forward or backward, all you need to do is to swipe from left to right, and vice versa.
Changing the volume is as easy as tapping the left and right Halves of the touch panel. While you can still do all these with your phone or voice assistant, it’s cool that we still get a touch control to play around with.
Being a Sonos speaker, the Sonos one sound quality expectations where high right from the box, and well, it meant that standard. The sounds from the Sonos smart speaker were vibrant, with highs and mids being clear, loud and crisp, and the woofers delivering deep and punchy lows, which gave songs a whole lot more energy.
While it does not offer the audio elements separation you get on a stereo speaker, the amount of sound coming from this device considering its sounds is quite impressive. It’s only competitor when it comes to sound quality would be the Apple Homepod.
You appreciate this device when it comes to smart home controls. Thanks to its support for both Alexa and the Google assistant ( Siri coming soon). You can use it to control smart home devices, which is compatible with either Alexa or the Google assistant, In essence, Savings you money.
When you are not using it for controlling your smart home or playing music, you can use it the get the latest news, weather and sports updates. Just make sure to say your preferred assistant wake word(ok Google, Alexa).
Pros And Cons of the Sonos One Smart Speaker:
- Great sounding speaker.
- supports Alexa and the Google assistant (With Siri in the works).
- Works with Sonos multi-room system.
- High price tag.
- You cannot seamlessly switch from either assistants.
Google Nest mini (Best for Starters)
The first Mini smart speaker from Google was the Google Home mini, which was highly successful partly because of its low price and features packed in this small device. With the Google home mini being well-received, Google decided to launch its successor the Google nest mini, Which name keeps with the new Google nest theme.
The Google Nest mini is a smart speaker with tons of uses, from listening to podcasts to controlling smart home devices, all backed by the power of Google.
Although it might not pack the same power as the other smart speakers when it comes to music consumption. The feature-packed on and the low price has seen the Google nest mini being placed in a lot more homes and apartments. Especially Great for those who are looking to dive into the smart home space or a smart speaker for your kid’s room.
Aesthetically the Nest mini looks modern and stylish. The material in use on this device makes it seems pretty premium, making it hard to see the relationship with the price. Keeping to the Google theme, you have a fabric cover at the top, and at the bottom is a rubber casing.
Beneath the fabric cover, you have the speaker, three buttons for play/pause and volume control, and the signature Google Led. To summon the Google Assistant, you can say the Google wake word or long-press the play button on the Google Nest mini.
Flipping the device over to the rubber base, you will find the power port and the mute microphone slider. Sad that Google didn’t include a 3.3mm jack for connecting to other speakers. But well, the nest mini supports Bluetooth version 5.0, which should help fill the gaps.
Voice recognition on the Google Nest mini was also outstanding. It was able to pick up commands from far distances and different locations in the room. If you are worried about Google storing your recording, you can disable it here.
At a price tag of $35/£35, it is the cheapest smart speaker you will find in the market, with the Echo dot right behind it. Smart home integration and controls were also great. Integration with the Nest line of smart products was smooth as well as other smart home products, with big names like Phillips hue, Lutron, Arlo, and so on compatible with the Google assistant.
Who has the Google nest Mini for? If you are starting your first smart home project, you will definitely want to save as much money as you can, and with the Google nest mini, you get the smart of Google for just $35/£35. The second set of users are those whos smart homes are built around the nest Eco-system, then getting the Google Nest mini will help ease integration and Automations.
Pros And Cons of the Google Nest Mini:
- Low price tag.
- Attractive minimalistic Design.
- Quick Responce.
- The Google Nest Mini could be louder.
- No 3.3mm jack port.
Apple Homepod (Best speaker For Its Size)
When it comes to smart speakers, Apple came really late to the party, But when it arrived, it came with a punch. The Apple Homepod was launched in 2019 for $350. Over the years the price has drop down to $300 and even went on offer for as low as $250. Apple’s main aim for the Homepod was to combine the smarts of Siri and an incredible speaker, Which it did.
For starters, the Apple Homepod is only compatible with iPhone and iPad devices. So if you are using an android device, Apple says don’t even bother. Considering android users accounting for more than 60% of the market, I don’t think Apple made the right choice here.
Well, for the design, we all know Apple for pulling out impressive design from its iPhones and ipads, and the Homepod was design to look premium.
Looking at the device, you will notice the fabric cover that goes around the speaker and stop at the top and button of the device. At the top, you have a touch-sensitive panel with a led color full ball that changed color to the signature Siri multi-color when interacting with it.
When playing music, the panel changes to Minus and plus button for volume control. Behind the Apple Homepod is where you will find the power port of powering up the device. Unfortunately, we don’t get a 3.3mm jack or Bluetooth for connecting to other devices, which is very sad.
When it comes to speakers, underneath the fabric cover, you have seven tweeters and a big woofer. The orientation of the speaker is also quite interesting. Apple decided to place the seven tweeters at the bottom while the woofer at the top, which is unconventional for speakers. But the sound from the Apple Homepod is simply premium. It was able to easily fill a large room with rich and loud audio.
If you are used to listening to music on low or medium quality, the Homepod will open your eye to a whole new world of music thanks to its ability to separate music elements, from the vocals to the kicks. The woofer on the Homepod produced super punchy and deep bass. Request for lean on me by major Lazer, and you will be impressed with the power behind the kicks and 808.
Another downside of Homepod is the fact that its only native music streaming service is Apple music. Other music streaming services like Spotify and pandora can only be streamed from your phone to the device.
The Apple Homepod also has six omnidirectional speakers for picking up all your voice commands from anywhere in the room. Even when playing loud music, the Homepod was still able to distinguish between my voice and the surrounding music.
When it comes to smart home controls and Automations, Apple has added a whole new level of smartness to Siri. With Siri, you can control your smart lights, doorbells, smart door lock, and thermostats, although the list of compatible devices cannot be compared with Alexa or the Google assistant. Companies have started to partner up with apple’s Siri.
Obviously, Apple made the Homepod for people already embed into the Apple Ecosystem. With the Homepod only connecting to Apple devices, which is sad. But looking at the Good side, the Apple Homepod is an Excellent smart speaker, the fact that Apple was able to fit such powerful speakers in that small device is impressive. While it lacks in some aspect, the Apple Homepod makes up for it in speaker quality.
Pros and Cons of the Apple Homepod:
- Impresive Sound Quality
- Easy setup process
- Sleek and attractive Design
- Siri is limited
- Only works with iphones
- No bluetooth for streaming
Pros And Cons of the Google Home smart speaker:
- Reasonable price tag.
- Attractive Design
- Works with Chromecast
- Average sounding speaker
- Microphone finnds it hard to pick up commands when music is playing.
- limited smart home Compatibility
Amazon Echo Dot:
Pros and Cons of the Echo Dot:
- Low Price tag
- Compact Design
- Alexa Voice Assistant on board
- Audio performance could be better
What are smart speakers:
Smart speaker are speakers with Inbuilt virtual voice assistants. Which are used for a variety of things, including reading news, check the weather forecast, playing music, and control other smart home devices, all this mostly with your voice. While most consist of a panel and the speakers, some other posses touch screen displays and are mostly called smart display but offer the same functionalities with the smart speaker, but this time you get interactive responses on the screen.
Can smart Speaker Spy On Me:
When it comes to spying on you, smart speakers are not giving that permission. But rather big companies like Google, Amazon, and Siri all record and store commands it receives. While most smart speakers have a physical microphone mute button. You can stop smart assistant from storing your command by diving into the settings. Read more here.