In the Market for a Smart Speaker? Read THIS!
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Music lovers! 🎶
If you’re considering buying a smart speaker but not sure which one to purchase OR just wondering what the differences are among them, this post is for you!
First, what exactly is a smart speaker?
A smart speaker is a wireless speaker and voice command device that comes with an integrated virtual assistant (such as Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, Siri, etc) that allows you to interact with it hands-free. Just simply talk to your “assistant” or ask it a question and it will respond to you!
For instance, you can ask Siri a myriad of questions, have Cortana control your smart home devices (turn down the lights/turn up the heating), ask Alexa to check the traffic… as well as get a weather report, tell you a joke, create a to-do list, set an alarm, book an Uber, play music and SO much more!
Check out the following options…
Currently, there are two brands of speakers (Amazon and Google) that are primarily dominating the market and each speaker offers different features. However, there are a few other popular brands that are good contenders, as well as a couple other speakers that will be releasing in 2018.
AMAZON (powered by Alexa):
- Echo Dot: Most affordable at only $29.99, you can stream Wi-Fi music, control smart home devices, make free audio calls, and more.
- Echo: Priced at $79.99. With the same features as the Dot, the Echo also has seven microphones, as well as dual speakers with room filling sound, powered by Dolby. Choose from multiple colors and finishes.
- Echo Plus: Priced at $149.99. With the same features as the Echo, the Echo Plus also has a built-in hub for simple setup of compatible smart home devices.
- Echo Spot: Priced at $129.99, the Echo Spot has the same features as the Echo Dot but also with a stylish screen, which allows you to play video from Amazon Video and more.
- Echo Show: Priced at $149.99. The Echo Show is larger and optimized for visuals and room filling sound and comes with a 7″ screen, dual speakers and more.
- Echo Look: Priced at $199.99; currently only available by invitation. With Echo Look, you can take full-length photos of your daily look using just your voice. The built-in LED lighting and depth-sensing camera let you blur the background to make your outfits pop, giving you clean, shareable photos. Plus, get advice from fashion specialists and more!
- Amazon Tap: Priced at $79.99, this Alexa-enabled speaker features voice control, Wi-Fi music streaming, Bluetooth, stereo sound powered by Dolby, and more!
GOOGLE (powered by Google Assistant):
- Google Home Mini: Most affordable at $29.99, the Google Home Mini is similar to the Echo Dot in size. You can stream Wi-Fi music, control smart home devices, make free audio calls, help you find a lost phone and more. Choose from several colors or finishes.
- Google Home: Priced at $79.99, the Google Home also uses voice commands to enjoy music, get answers from Google and manage everyday tasks. With 2 microphones and 3 speakers, the Google Home is compatible with Android and iOS operating systems, and can control compatible smart devices such as Chromecast or Nest.
- Google Home Max: Priced at $399, the Google Home Max is built with dual 4.5″ woofers and two tweeters. With Smart Sound, Max uses machine learning to automatically adjust the equalizer settings to match the acoustics of your room. Plus, it features far-field voice control so Max can hear you across the room while your music is playing.
OTHER POPULAR BRANDS:
- Sonos One: Great for avid music lovers! With Amazon Alexa built in, the Sonos One allows you to play songs, check news and traffic, control your smart home and enjoy all those other helpful Amazon Alexa skills using a single Sonos speaker. Priced at $199.
- Harman Kardon Invoke: The Harman Kardon Invoke speaker includes Microsoft virtual assistant Cortana to answer questions and smart home technology to streamline tasks. You can answer Skype audio calls hands-free and project music powerfully via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth without sacrificing sound quality. Priced at $99.99.
- Invoxia Triby: Triby features voice control with Amazon Alexa and is a smart portable speaker, internet radio, hands-free speakerphone, and connected message board! With two built in speakers and a passive radiator managed by 3D algorithms, it creates immersive soundscapes with profound bass and clear treble. Enjoy your music anywhere!
- Apple HomePod: Available in early 2018 for $349, the Apple HomePod will feature voice control, Siri intelligence, automatic room-sensing technology, remote access and home automations through the Home App, and is compatible with iPhone 5s and later.
- Samsung featuring Bixby: Samsung is rumored to release a smart speaker by mid-2018 that will feature Bixby, Samsung’s digital assistant. It will also synchronize with TVs, Galaxy smartphones and other Samsung devices and is expected to cost around $200.
How do you choose the right speaker? Here are our picks…
Best overall speaker:
Amazon Echo. The speaker that started it all is on sale for under $80. The sound difference between the smaller Dot & the larger Echo are too great to scrimp on.
Best sound in an affordable speaker:
Sonos One. For under $200, you get a smart speaker with stronger Hi-Fi than you’ll hear on one of the smaller Amazon or Google units. If you listen to music every day, the Sonos One speaker is money well spent.
Google Home Mini. On sale for under $30, the cute doughnut-shaped speaker is a powerful device with a nice price tag.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. But if you have an Android phone, it probably makes more sense to purchase a Google speaker to integrate with your other Android devices.