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There Are Regular Speakers, and Then There Are Smart Speakers. Here’s Why It’s Time To Get Smart

It’s now more affordable than ever to add a smart speaker to your home, which not only acts as a high-end speaker system but more importantly, works as a virtual assistant for users. That’s especially true if you’re an Amazon Prime member, as the mega-retailer has a ton of affordable top-rated smart speakers that will make everyday tasks like answering the phone, sending texts, playing music, browsing for information, and ordering food a hands-free, voice-activated experience.

Not only do smart speakers pack huge convenience factors for users, but they’re also ideal for people with mobility issues. Whether you have problems with walking or with using your arms, or if there are areas of your home, like the corner with the thermostat, that you have difficulty reaching, smart speakers can be a literal lifesaver. For the elderly or anyone who has an accident at home, smart speakers’ voice-automated commands mean that you can call for help, whether that means sending a text to a loved one or getting in touch with 911 during an emergency. If you have sight issues, or just want to listen to audiobooks and get a rundown of the day’s biggest news stories, smart speakers have access to apps like Audible and NPR.

What To Look For In A Smart Speaker

Look for speakers that work with the smart products you’re already using. This will help you realize the full potential of your products and make setup a breeze. Additionally, opt for a brand that works with the apps you already use. For example, Amazon products work best with Amazon Music compared to Apple Music.

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Narrow down your biggest needs. If audio quality is at the top of your list, a larger speaker with HiFi sound capabilities will be a better choice. If using the speaker for its hands-free features is more important, you can likely save money with a smaller, more affordable model.

How many people will be using the speaker? Some Bluetooth smart speakers are equipped with voice recognition, which can be helpful if multiple members of your household want to interact with your new smart speaker and hear their unique schedule.

How We Chose The Best Smart Speakers

Most smart speakers work with other smart home technologies, including products by Philips Hue, TP-Link, Sony, ecobee, WeMo, SmartThings, Insteon, Lutron, Nest, Wink, and Honeywell, which help create a home that is perfectly customized to your shifting needs. The smart speakers on our list work with the most commonly found tech, making it easy to integrate into your preexisting setup. All the smart speakers on our list are the most updated option and feature thousands of positive reviews. We’ve also included a wide price range to help every customer find a speaker that fits their budget.

If you’re looking for a new speaker for your home or you’re ready to add the convenience of a virtual assistant, we’ve compiled a list of the best smart speakers for sale on Amazon that will make anyone’s life feel and sound better.

1. Echo Dot 4th Gen

The fourth generation of the hugely popular Echo Dot has increased its size, but with that change came an improved sound and functionality. The circular speaker takes the same powerful bass as the now phased-out Echo Plus and pairs it with the smart features of the previous Dots. Featuring Dolby Audio and two tweeters, the 4th Gen provides a crisp and clear listening experience, whether your Dot is streaming music from Amazon, Apple, Spotify or other services. Use voice activation to control other smart electronics in the home, set timers, make hands-free calls, ask for weather updates, and make announcements through other speakers in the home. The 4th Gen also includes home security features, alerting users to things like smoke or the sound of broken glass.

Pros: Improved sound quality, works with several streaming services, features Alexa Guard for added security.

Cons: The new spherical design takes up more room than the earlier generations of the Dot. Lower sound quality than premium smart speakers.

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Courtesy of Amazon

2. Sonos One (Gen 2)

Built with a rich and powerful sound, the Sonos One is a smart speaker for those who want convivence and a high-quality speaker. The WiFi-enabled speaker is able to work on its own or be paired with other Sonos speakers to create an immersive listening experience. The Sonos One has Alexa built-in, making it easy to set up and use. Users can also access features through their Google Assistant using the Sonos One and the speaker also supports AirPlay. The Sonos app can be used to access music through just about any device, including Macs, PCs, Androids and iOS systems and it works with more than 50 streaming services.

Pros: Compact design with top-of-the-line sound. Can be paired with other Sonos speakers for an immersive audio experience.

Cons: The Sonos does not have Bluetooth capabilities.

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Image courtesy of Amazon

3. Sony XB402M Smart Speaker

For a smart speaker that can go from the bedroom to the bathroom and even the pool, we like the Sony XB402M Smart Speaker. The powerful speaker has a built-in Alexa that responds to voice commands and can be synced with other devices in the home. The Sony features a Live Sound Mode that includes dual passive radiators and a wide frequency that creates an immersive listening experience, including a powerful 3D bass. A great option for users who want a speaker that can be used outdoors, the Sony is rated IP67 waterproof and has 12-hours of battery life. Add in a shockproof design and optional strobe lights and you have a smart speaker that is built to party.

Pros: Waterproof and shockproof, built-in Alexa controls, 12 hours of battery life.

Cons: The Sony cannot be paired with other speakers for a surround sound experience.

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Image courtesy of Amazon

4. Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

The third generation of the Echo Dot smart speakers from Amazon features a slimmer design and more smart home features. And thanks to the low price and compact shape, you can buy one for every room of your home. Of course, the Echo uses Alexa, which is loaded with thousands of skills. You can control smart devices like lights, hear news headlines, check the weather and, of course, play music. Available in four colors in the non-clock model, the 3rd Gen has better speaker quality than previous generations and can be paired with other Echo Dots to create an entertainment system.

Pros: Connects to plenty of streaming services and smart home gadgets. Improved speakers compared to the previous generations.

Cons: This particular model doesn’t feature a clock display. These speakers are great for Alexa but have limitations for listening to music.

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5. Bose Home Speaker 300

When it comes to smart speakers, audio quality is often something of an afterthought. But with everything Bose does, sound quality is paramount. That’s why this speaker is a great option. It features robust Bose sound at low and medium volumes and comes with Amazon Alexa built-in. The speaker has a sleek design, and the 360-degree speaker allows for more immersive audio coverage. In addition to Alexa, you can use this speaker with Google Assistant.

Pros: Sleek design, powerful speaker. Compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. 360-degree speaker for wider sound coverage.

Cons: Initial setup can be challenging.

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Image courtesy of Amazon

6. Amazon Echo Studio

The Amazon Echo Studio combines all the smart features of other speakers from Amazon while upping the sound quality. The high fidelity unit has five speakers and Dolby Atmos technology to create an immersive listening experience that produces rich bass along with dynamic and crisp notes. Users can choose from the most popular streaming services and hear their music delivered in HD, Ultra-HD and 3D format. Not only does the Echo Studio deliver on the ‘smart’ part of its name by acting as a smart speaker that responds to voice controls, it’s also smart enough to automatically adjust its sound quality to the acoustics of any room it’s placed inside. The Echo Studio is compatible with other smart gadgets and Alexa can be used to control Zigbee-compatible devices.

Pros: Features Dolby Atmos technology, automatically adapts to any rooms’ acoustic, can be paired with a second Echo Studio or Echo Sub for a full-scale entertainment system.

Cons: Highest price point for all Amazon smart speakers.

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Image courtesy of Amazon

7. Bose Portable Smart Speaker

For a speaker that can keep the party going inside and outside the home, we like the Bose Portable Smart Speaker. At just over 2 pounds, the Bose is one of the lightest portable smart speakers available (the Sony below weighs over 3 pounds) and has a built-in handle for easy carrying. A great option for using outdoors, the Bluetooth-enabled speaker can be controlled with a phone or tablet, has a 12-hour battery life, and is rated IPX4 water-resistant. When users are inside or within WiFi range, they can take advantage of the Alexa-enabled smart features, including voice control. The Smart Speaker can be paired with other Bose speakers for a surround sound effect and has a comparable sound quality to the Bose 300 above.

Pros: Lightweight and water-resistant, compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, can be paired with other Bose speakers.

Cons: The Bose is compatible with Google Assistant, but only for playing music and not for making calls.

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Courtesy of Amazon