Smart speakers: Choosing the right one

Smart speakers have become hugely popular and are appearing in homes and offices all around the country. There are lots of models on the market, but which one is right for you? In this blog, we’ll look at the smart speakers available and what makes them different.

What is a smart speaker?

Smart speakers are audio speakers that you can interact with using your voice, similar to using a voice-activated search on your mobile device. They connect to the internet and use a virtual assistant to answer questions, tell you things like football team line-ups, the weather, lets you play music and control other elements of a connected smart home like heating, lights, air conditioning etc.

 

Sonos One

The Sonos One is a smart speaker aimed at the music lover market. The unit uses Amazon’s Alexa assistant. The speaker is small but has a powerful sound that is fairly directional compared to other smart speakers. It can use Amazon Prime, Tune In, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Soundcloud and Tidal as its streaming services. It’s more expensive than other speakers at £199, but if you plan on using it as your main music listening device it’s not too much of an investment

 

Amazon Echo 2

Amazon’s Echo 2 uses the Alexa smart assistant at its core. The speaker itself has reasonable levels of bass for its size and can be connected to via Bluetooth. There is also a 3.5mm jack output for connecting it to more speakers if that’s your thing. Music can be played from Amazon, Spotify and Tune In. at only £89 it’s a great value way of getting into smart speakers.

 

Google Home

Google are the kings of online search and services, so it’s no surprise they have entered the smart speaker market. Google assistant is probably the most advanced of the digital assistants at the moment, so it can do things like reserve you a table at a restaurant, dictate notes that will be stored on your phone and you can make calls through the Google home device itself now. Music services available include Google Music, Youtube Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and iHeartRadio. Coming in at between £99 and £129 it’s a direct competitor for Amazon’s Echo 2.

 

Apple Home Pod

Apple is late arriving in the smart speaker market, but as they do they’ve entered the market at a premium price point of £329. The speaker uses Siri as its digital assistant, so everything you can do on your phone you can do on the Home Pod, including call integration. Primarily designed for playing music, it is far better sounding than all the other speakers I’ve mentioned in the article. The speaker uses technology to work out the size of your room and automatically compensates using digital trickery to optimise the sound. It is designed for Apple Music integration, but it will play for Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal, Pandora and Spotify via airplay.

 

These are just some of the smart speakers on the market and should give you an idea of what to look out for. As with all tech, I’d advise trying it yourself and see what one you think will be right for you. If you have an existing music subscription this might influence your choice, but all the products mentioned are high quality and will provide enjoyment for most people.

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