The demand for smart speakers has seen massive growth over the past 2 years thanks in large part to Amazons range of smart devices. The functionality that these awesome little gadgets offer is only getting stronger by the day and with more people getting on board with the technology we see a vast increase in the number of companies offering ever more interesting designs. We take a look at the best smart speakers for your home and go over some of the key features of each models to help you make a purchase.
What can I do with a smart speaker?
The amount of cool things you can do with a smart speaker is growing by the day as more and more programs get written. Really we are talking hundreds if not thousands of functions but here are some uses that may be of interest you.
Setting alarms reminders and timers - You can tell your speaker what time you want to be woken up in the morning, when you have your hair appointment of just to do a countdown to let you know when your eggs are boiled. Pretty handy
Control Smart Devices - This is one of our favorites. Provided you have the compatible smart devices then you can set up your smart speaker to control a host of home smart devices. The ones that we like most are the control of the heating and aircon systems and the lighting from our Phillips Hue light bulbs.
Playback Music - You can of course listen to music on your smart speaker and it is easy to control the song selection, playback and volume all by using your voice as a command input.
Do your shopping - Yes Amazon built in functionality to shop through their Alexa system and with your account hooked up you can just simply ask it to order groceries without ever having to log onto your laptop.
Ask it questions - Want to know the latest sports scores? Gossip?Weather? no need to get out your phone or tablet just ask away.
Key Factors to Consider when Buying Smart Speakers
It goes without saying that not all smart speakers are created equal so here are a few important areas to consider when making a purchase.
Currently there are three main players in the smart speaker market. Apple, Google & Amazon all are fighting it out to get your business and whilst the speakers all offer the same basic functionality whats right for one person might not be as useful to another. The way I see it right now is that choose your speaker based on your phone operation but the one alternative is if you use Amazon offers and services. Basically if you use an iphone etc then I recommend either a Apple speaker or Alexa speaker. If you use Android then choose a google based speaker or again Amazon. Amazon works well from either side but using a google speaker if you have mainly apple products (and vice versa) is not as enjoyable.
At its absolute heart a smart speaker is a speaker. If you think you are going to get one to listen to music then I suggest you put some priority on sound quality when buying. This negates the need for a secondary device and greatly enhances your listening experience.
This is one area where the vast adoption has greatly benefited the consumer, Most of the big companies now have smart speakers for every budget. The good thing here is that even the cheap speakers are still perfectly functional. This is one area of technology that started from a lower price point and expanded into more expensive models with additional features.
If you are going to have the speaker located in your house the aesthetic design is probably going to be important. There are a lot of different designs now so we are sure you will find something that suits your taste if you dig around
The Best Smart Speakers List
Google Home Mini
JBL Link View
LG Thinq WK&
Amazon Alexa - Best Alexa Smart Speaker
Links to your Amazon account
Sound quality is lacking for music playback
Amazons Alexa was not the first smart speaker to hit the market but it was the first to truly hit the mainstream and be adopted en mas.
We like it because for the price it offers an incredible amount of value for money. App support is excellent in that Amazon gives you control over Spotify, Uber, Phillips Hue and many more.
In fact Amazon claim that over 30,000 functions can be performed on the Alexa with many more being added on a regular basis.
Google Home Mini - Best Google Assistant Smart Speaker
Power of google search and AI
Small and attractive design
Excellent app support
I think everyone is pretty familiar with google by now and its no surprise they have entered the world of smart speakers. They offer a few different models but the budget offering is the minuscule Home mini. We found that the Google speaker had more ability to understand context when asking questions making for a far more natural interaction. Sound quality is good for its size and app support is of course excellent.
Apple Homepod - Best Smart Speaker for Siri
Incredible sound quality, perfect for music
Best solution for IOS users
Siri feels somewhat lacking next to Google voice
If you use and iPhone, iPad or Macbook as your main device then you will want to go with apples Homepod for its ease of integration into your system.
While we feel like Google definetley has the best search and voice recognition program out there just now Siri is certainly no slouch and offers a raft of cool tricks and features to enhance you life. Sound Quality is absolutely outstanding for the size and this small speaker has more than enough oomph to fill even large rooms. Most impressive is the depth of bass the Homepod can reach and as a result this is one of our most recommended models if you listen to a lot of music.
Sonos One - Best Multi Room Smart Speaker
Can integrate with other Sonos speaker to form a multi-room system
Best sounding smart speaker
Amazon Alexa support
If you want a premium speaker or have the intention to make a multi room smart speaker sound system then there really is only one option.
Sonos have been making there linked sound systems for over a decade but only recently added full Amazon Alexa support.
Despite being smart this speaker also sounds incredibly good and with combing other Sonos one speakers and the companies bass unit you can really have an advanced Hifi quality sound system in your house.
JBL Link View - Best Smart Speaker With a Screen
Integrated 8” touchscreen
Front facing camera for Skype Calls
If its more than voice control you are looking for then get ready for the incoming wave smart speakers with screens.
This adds a whole extra level of functionality as you can ask you speaker to bring up a document or recipe etc as well as adding visual answers to questions about the weather and much much more. Voice control is taken care of by google assistant which runs flawlessly on the device and allows you to do everything you would with one of Googles own products.
The JBL Link is packed full of features and priced remarkably well making it our favorite in this product category.
LG Thinq WK7 Smart Speaker
Sound is very impressive for size and price
Google Assistant integration
Another third party smart speaker that utilizes Google assistant for its operation the LG WK7 speaker doesn’t have any fancy party tricks but it does put a lot of focus on audio performance.
For the money it is very hard to ignore as it gives off room filling sound with lots of detail and impact bass response. Looks wise its very just a very reserve black post that seems somewhat bland in comparison with some of its competition.
Very worthwhile considering if you don’t need a multi room system and you want bang for your buck on the sound front.
Google Home Max - Best Sounding Smart Speaker
First smart speaker using AI for better sound
Impressive bass and clarity
excellent voice detection and responsiveness
The google home max gives you all the advantage of the Google Home Mini smart speaker but it turbo charges the performance making this the perfect speaker to replace your hifi system.
The reason the Google Home Max sounds so good isn’t just in its ability to deliver thumping bass with its 4.5 inch woofers but this speaker is genuinely smart in the sense that it uses a combination of AI and 6 microphones to detect your listening environment and adjust the sound of the device to make it sound better wherever it is located.
This speaker also has touch volume controls and is one of the best looking smart speakers on the market today with a super clean aesthetic that will go well in almost any modern home.