Whether it’s a gift for someone special or just to make your own home smarter, smart speakers are quickly becoming a must-have. With so many options to choose from, it’s important to carefully compare smart speakers to ensure you get the right features for your needs. The best part is these speakers are becoming increasingly more affordable.
12 Smart Speakers to Consider
Google Home – $129
Google Home uses the Google Assistant to search for answers to your questions, play your favorite songs on demand, help you stay on schedule, and work as a controller for other smart devices. It even integrates with Chromecast, making it an ideal option for Chromecast users. Currently, it works with over 1,000 smart home devices.
Google Home Mini – $49
If you like Google Home, but prefer something smaller, the Google Home Mini might be the best option. When you compare smart speakers, you’ll often find you have a range of sizes to choose from. This mini version works almost like Google Home, but the sound quality isn’t quite as good. However, it’s ideal for adding the Google Assistant to more rooms.
Google Home Max – $399
Google Home Max is designed to be the smart speaker that puts just as much emphasis on sound quality as smart features. While it features the Google Assistant, it’s built for superior sound. It adapts to your surroundings to provide the highest quality audio in any room. This is best suited to audiophiles.
If you don’t mind waiting until 2018, the Apple HomePod could be your new smart speaker. If you love Apple products, you probably won’t even have to compare smart speakers to choose this one as the perfect one for you. It’s designed to adapt to the room and connects with Apple Music.
The speaker uses Siri as your virtual assistant. Apple also states that it has the “biggest brain ever in a speaker.” Multiple HomePods automatically adapt to each other to optimize the sound. A solid release date hasn’t been set yet, so keep checking back.
Learn More: HomePod: Apple’s Answer to Smart Home Privacy
The Amazon Echo was one of the first mainstream smart speakers. It’s impossible not to mention the Alexa-powered device when you compare smart speakers. It makes and answers calls, answers questions, sets timers, plays musics, reads you books, and even orders pizza for you. It’s designed with high-quality audio and noise cancellation so it’ll hear you even with your music playing.
Thousands of “skills” set the Echo apart, which are different tasks the Echo can perform. Plus, it’s compatible with more smart devices.
Need a smaller version of the Echo? The Amazon Echo Dot is perfect for adding Amazon Alexa to another room. It has all the same capabilities, but has lower sound quality. If you don’t mind less dynamic sound, it’s a much cheaper alternative to the Echo. It’s best suited to someone who prefers using Alexa more than streaming music.
If you’re searching for even more features as you compare smart speakers, look no further than the Amazon Echo Plus. It’s the Echo on overdrive. It’s designed as the perfect smart device to start building a smarter home. The built-in ZigBee smart home hub makes it easy to connect smart devices without an additional hub. It also has better sound quality.
If you’re wanting to create a smart home and not just use a smart speaker, the Echo Plus works well as it’s the only Echo model with a built-in hub.
Learn More: Alexa, Privacy and the Connected Home
The Sonos One uses Amazon Alexa as your virtual assistant. As good as Amazon’s Echo line sounds, Sonos has a reputation for creating speakers with amazing sound quality. Thanks to the Alexa integration, you get all the same Alexa skills from the Echo devices. It’s built for sophisticated sound in any room.
Plus, it links wirelessly to any Sonos Home Sound System speakers to play your music throughout your home. You can also use it to build a surround sound system to hear music, movies, and TV just like you’ve always dreamed. It’s truly built with music lovers in mind.
The Sonos PLAY:1, PLAY:3, and PLAY:5 are just wireless speakers on their own. However, each speaker offers increasingly better sound quality. When combined with the Sonos One, you’re able to turn the speakers into voice-activated smart speakers powered by Alexa.
Of course, you can also pair any of these speakers with the Amazon Echo or Dot. They integrate well to give you superior audio to anything the Echo could offer. You get the benefits of a smart speaker plus the power of a speaker designed to provide pure, rich sound.
Usually when you compare smart speakers, you only find speakers that sit in your home. What about taking your speaker with you? JBL has you covered with the JBL Link 10. It uses Google Assistant to provide hands-free operation. Chromecast is built in to make it easy to stream music directly to your speaker.
Since it’s portable and waterproof, it’s ideal for using outside or while traveling. You get up to five hours to music per charge. While it’s not designed for creating a smart home, it is made for taking your music with you wherever you go.
The JBL Link 20 is a step up from the Link 10. It’s also a portable smart speaker. The biggest differences are slightly better sound and double the playtime on a single charge. In fact, you can get up to 10 hours of playback per charge. If you’re camping, this could be the perfect option.
JBL Link 300 – $249.95
The JBL Link 300 works just like the Link 10. However, it’s a larger speaker and is designed to stay in your home. Of course, a larger speaker means you get bigger audio as well. It’s perfect for anyone who wants a smart speaker, but doesn’t need quite as many features as the Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Related Read: Best Bluetooth Speakers for Smartphones
Contribution by Crystal Crowder
About the Author
Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.