From doorbells to TVs to fridges and even mugs, the internet of things has revolutionized the way we interact with the most basic of everyday items. If you have a lot of smart devices, one of the best ways to control those devices is with a smart assistant. A built-in mic allows you to use your voice to turn off the lights, broadcast to other speakers in the house, and turn to your favorite streaming service on your TV.
Even if you haven’t converted all of your electronics to smart devices, a smart assistant can still be a worthwhile investment. You can use your device to check the weather, play music, set reminders, and even make calls.
Smart assistants come in a lot of shapes and sizes. The most common smart assistants are found in speakers. Within the market of smart speakers, there’s also a lot of variety. The first thing you want to consider is what service you’ll want to use.
Two of the biggest players in the smart assistant market are Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. These devices typically work better when you pair them with other devices in the same family, so it’s best to not mix and match. However, some speakers from third party brands are compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant. The other thing you’ll want to consider is what you’re using your smart speaker for.
If you just want to check the weather in the morning or set reminders, a small and inexpensive device like the Echo Dot will more than meet your needs. If you want to stream music and audio quality is important to you, then it’s worth looking into brands that specialize in speakers, such as Sonos and Bose.
Smart assistants go beyond just audio, though. If you want to video chat, view your smart security cameras, or watch videos, there are smart assistants with built-in screens. The Amazon Echo Show is a great example. If you want a smart assistant, but aren’t sure of the kind you want, then we’ve rounded up some of the best options below. All of them are compatible with Alexa, and half of them can be used with Google Assistant.
1. Echo Show 5
If staying connected is important to you, then the Amazon Echo Show 5 is a great option. It’s smaller and more affordable than other Echo Show devices, while still offering great features. You can use it to stay connected via video chat. You can also use it to watch videos and check your cameras such as a Ring doorbell or nursery camera. Of course, the Echo Show can also be used for anything you might use your smart speaker for, such as listening to music or setting reminders.
Pros: Can be used to make video calls, stream content, check your home cameras and listen to music.
Cons: Some may prefer the larger screens of the Amazon Echo Show.
2. Sonos One (Gen 2) Voice Controlled Smart Speaker
The Sonos One is great for both is smart speaker functionality and its audio quality. Alexa is built-in, so you can use it to control other smart devices and use the many other features Alexa is capable of. The Sonos One can also be paired with another Sonos One for a stereo experience. The speaker is large enough to fill a room with sound, but small enough for a kitchen counter or bookshelf.
Pros: High quality sound, built-in Alexa, can be paired with other Sonos devices. Can also be used with Google Assistant.
Cons: Built-in microphone is not as strong as dedicated smart speakers, meaning you may have to speak louder or be closer to the device.
3. Echo Dot
The 3rd generation of the Echo Dot is a great option if you’re in the market for a compact and affordable speaker. Amazon has improved the audio quality, improving the experience if you’re using this device for listening to music and podcasts. Plus, you can use it to connect to your other smart devices — use it turn on the lights, cameras and speakers. On its own, it can be used to set reminders and check the news and weather.
Pros: Affordable and compact smart speaker. Can be used to control other smart devices in your house, check the weather, set reminders, etc.
Cons: Not as powerful a speaker as more expensive Echo options.
4. Bose Home Speaker 500 with Alexa voice control
For those who are going to regularly use their speaker for listening to music, it’s worth looking into a smart speaker that’s built by an audio brand. This option from Bose is a good pick. You can use it with either Alexa or Google Assistant, and you can connect using either Bluetooth, WiFi or Airplay. Plus, a mini visual display shows you the album that you’re listening to.
Pros: High-quality audio. Use it with either Alexa or Google Assistant. Can be used to control other smart devices, check the weather, etc.
Cons: Not as seamless using Alexa as it is with a designated Alexa device.