Smart Speaker
Last updated: 04/06/2020

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Everyone loves buying new electronic gadgets that use the latest technology. This even more true of devices that are designed to make our lives easier. Smart speakers have arrived and they are ready to be integrated into our homes. As they are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, they can seamlessly fit in with any existing smart technology gadgets you already own.

They allow you to active different applications, simply by using your voice. You can check the latest news headlines, or the weather forecast, listen to your favorite music and so much more. In order to help you find the option that is perfectly suited to your individual requirements, we have prepared this shopping guide to tell you everything you need to know about smart speakers.

Key Facts

  • Smart speakers are here to stay. They offer a multitude of different services that are designed to make your life easier. They use the latest technologies and are compatible with a wide range of applications.
  • From the cheapest to the most expensive, there are so many fantastic options that can be adjusted to suit your individual requirements. Your choice will mainly come down to your budget, and whether you want to prioritize sound quality over functionality.
  • Throughout this article, we will tell you everything you need to consider when making your purchase, so that you can find the option that best suits your needs from the wide range of options currently available on the market.

Our Selection: The Best Smart Speakers on the U.S. Market

In order to give you an overview of the different types of smart speakers available, in this section we present you with the four best options in four different categories. All these products offer great value for money, and have fantastic customer reviews from happy users.

Best Smart Speaker with a Compact Design

With a new speaker and design, Echo Dot is a voice-controlled smart speaker with Alexa, perfect for any room. Just ask for music, news, information, and more. You can also call almost anyone and control compatible smart home devices with your voice. Use your voice to play a song, artist, or genre through Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and others. With compatible Echo devices in different rooms, you can fill your whole home with music.

Most Popular Smart Speaker

The 2nd generation Echo has a 2.5” downward-firing woofer and 0.6” tweeter powered by Dolby to deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass throughout the room. You can play music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, and more. Using Amazon Music you can search by lyrics, time-period, or let Alexa pick the music for you. Set a music alarm to wake up to your favorite song or playlist. You can also listen to audiobooks from Audible, podcasts, radio stations, news briefs, and more.

Smart Speaker with the Best Sound Quality

The Bose home speaker 500 fills any room with powerful sound. Inside the speaker, two custom drivers point in opposite directions to bounce sound off the walls, creating a soundstage wider than any other smart speaker. Built-in voice assistants, like Alexa and the Google Assistant, let you enjoy millions of songs, Internet radio stations, playlists, and more — hands free. All you have to do is say the words, and the music starts playing.

Best Smart Speaker with a Screen

Echo Show 5 connects to Alexa to give you vivid visuals on a 5.5” screen with a crisp full sound—all in a compact design that fits in any room, in any home. See on-screen lyrics with Amazon Music. Set alarms and timers. Catch up on news highlights and movie trailers. Check weather and traffic as you head out in your new city. It’s the perfect size for adding glanceable entertainment to any room.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Smart Speakers

The wide range of smart speakers currently available on the market means that there is definitely something for everyone. However, this also means that choosing the option that is best for you can be a little overwhelming. To help you find out everything you need to know to make an informed choice, in this section we answer the most frequently asked questions about these amazing gadgets.

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Smart speakers are usually compact in size, and can listen to and understand certain commands.
(Source: Andriy Popov: 107215769/ 123rf.com)

What is a smart speaker?

Essentially, a smart speaker is a compact speaker that is capable of listening to and understanding various voice commands. Thanks to its integrated artificial intelligence (A.I.), you can ask it to play music, tell you the latest new headlines, give you up-to-date weather forecasts, or answer questions you ask.

However, these is far from the only functions, since it will allow you to control other paired devices via Bluetooth or WiFi. Additionally, over time these smart speakers learn about your personal tastes, preferences and routine, so they can learn how to make your life easier.

How is a smart speaker operated?

Smart speakers were invented to make people’s lives easier, and they are very easy to use. After just a few short steps, and adjusting a couple of settings, you are ready to go.

If you have an Amazon Echo Plus device, the first thing you need to do is connect it to a power source. Then simply connect it to your WiFi network and download the Alexa app. Now you can start asking questions or giving commands, allowing you to control other smart devices in your home.

What is a smart speaker with Alexa?

Smart speakers operate primarily using Alexa, Siri, Cortana or Google Assistant. Alexa is the virtual assistant created by Amazon, while Cortana works with Windows, and Siri with Apple. As soon as you call your digital assistant to attention, they listen, understand, and learn about your personal tastes and preferences. They are constantly collecting information.

Initially, Alexa was only incorporated into Amazon speakers. However, they have since reached agreements with many other manufactures, meaning that the list of compatible devices is constantly increasing.

Can a smart speaker be used with other smart home devices?

Many smart speakers contain integrated technology that allows you to automate your home environment. They can control other smart devices, appliances, as well as the lighting and heating – if you have installed a smart thermostat. All of this is designed to make your life easier.

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Smart speakers are most commonly operated using Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana.
(Source: Rclassenlayouts: 111351053/ 123rf.com)

What are the advantages of using a smart speaker?

Advantages
  • Smart speakers are usually very discreet and compact in design.
  • There are smart speakers that offer lots of functions, at a very affordable price.
  • They allow you to control different electronic devices.
  • Smart speakers not only listen and respond to commands, but also learn about you and you routine over time.
  • The wide range of devices on the market will ensure there is an option that is perfect for your individual requirements.
  • They are easy to setup and install.
Disadvantages
  • Although some models offer decent sound quality, it will still be inferior to using an audio system designed for listening to music.
  • Smart speakers that offer better audio quality are also more expensive.
  • Some people may not own many devices compatible with smart speakers.

What types of connectivity options do smart speakers offer?

Smart speakers usually have a power port and a 3.5 mm audio jack output. Additionally, they often have Bluetooth technology and are WiFi compatible. The most advanced models integrate an HD screen, making them even easier to use.

It’s important to point out that not all models offer the same connectivity options. Some will only allow you to connect other devices using Bluetooth, while others only incorporate WiFi, while some will offer both. This means that it is important that you are absolutely clear about your requirements, and find an option that suits your needs.

Buyer’s Guide

The large range of different smart speakers currently available on the market, means that there is definitely something for everyone. So that you can be sure you’re buying the option that is best for you, it is important to keep the following criteria in mind when making your purchase:

Brand

These days lots of different companies are manufacturing various models of smart speakers to meet the  individual requirements of users. While Amazon is the most well known, other brands include Sonos, Bose, Google, Sony, JBL, Netgear, Ultimate Ears, Xiaomi, Apple and Harman Kardon have introduced some awesome products.

Have a look at what each of them can do, and find one that performs all the functions you need, and any that you think may be useful in the future. If you already have a preference for a particular brand of electronic devices, find out if they have released a smart speaker and check out its features. There are so many great options, your problem will be more related to narrowing down your choice, as opposed to finding a single option you like.

Design

When considering the design of a smart speaker, think about the location where it will be situated in your home and make sure you choose one that ties in with the overall aesthetic. There are devices that are flat and elongated, while others are shaped like photo frame, such as the Amazon Echo Show. Some models even come in a variety of colors, so it should be easy to find something you love.

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Smart speakers were invented to make life easier.
(Source: Karen Roach: 110647641/ 123rf.com)

Compatibility with Applications

One of the great things about smart speakers is the wide of compatible applications that are available. If you buy an Amazon model, for example, simply download the Alexa app, and then go to the Alexa Skills Store. From there you can choose from a huge range of different types of apps, for checking the news headlines or the weather, or for reading cooking recipes or playing games.

Sound Quality

If you are a serious audiophile, you should know that some smart speakers offer significantly higher audio quality than others. For example, Bose has a reputation for manufacturing top-quality speakers, so they have have ensured their smart speakers are adequately loud. If you want a smart speaker so you can listen to music in your home, this is a factor that you really need to consider. However, if you are someone who prefers to listen to news reports or audio books, this will be less important.

Connectivity

Another important factor to consider is the type of connectivity you need from your new smart speaker. If you only need Bluetooth or WiFi, they you could simply opt for a device that only offer that technology. However, it is always better to have both. This means that if you purchase any new gadgets in the future that you want to connect to a smart speaker, you won’t need to go out an buy a new one. The more physical input and output ports the device has the better, as it will allow for more possibilities.

Most models include a power supply port and also a 3.5 mm audio output, while others incorporate a camera and a screen specially designed for making video calls a breeze. As you can see, there are different options which will be more or less important depending on your individual requirements.

Summary

Smart speakers have arrived and they are here to stay. The wide range of functions they offer make them very useful. They can allow you to schedule different tasks, set an alarm, check the news, listen to music and so much more. Some models are specifically designed to improve your home’s automation, and can be used to control household appliances.

When making your purchase, don’t forget to take into account all the aspects we mentioned in this article, such as the brand, design, connectivity and audio quality – if you are going to be regularly listening to music.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our shopping guide and it has made your purchase process easier. If you liked this article, please be sure to leave us a comment and share it with your family and friends!

(Source of Featured Image: Bee32: 92420608/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.