Do you want to have your own virtual assistant at home? Not sure which is the best smart speaker for you? You have come to the right place to clear all your doubts.
If we had to quickly define what this product is for, we would say without hesitation that it is simply designed to make our lives easier . We are talking about having an assistant connected to the internet that can answer our questions, keep our agenda, read us the news of the day, inform us about the weather, help us with a recipe, or make a call. And all under the command of your voice!
But before we delve into the abilities of each one, we know that there are some questions that concern you… What types of smart speakers are there? Should I use Alexa , Google Assistant or Siri ? Which is better? In this article we will dedicate ourselves to answering all these dilemmas so that you can choose the speaker that best suits your needs and preferences.
If you are in doubt about which smart speaker to buy , take a look at our analysis of the best alternatives on the market in 2022 . You will find recommendations , comparisons , tips and a step-by-step buying guide to help you in your choice process.
What to consider when choosing your smart speaker?
In English they are known as Smart Speakers, in Spanish we call them speakers, speakers or smart speakers. No matter what name we use, what we must be clear about are the aspects that must be considered to guarantee a successful election.
Depending on the use you want to give it, it will be convenient for you to choose one type of speaker or another. In general, we can talk about four different categories of smart speakers.
- Basics: simple, functional and cheap
- Dedicated audio: ideal for lovers of high quality sound
- With screen: greater interaction through image and video content.
- Portable: to use them wherever you want thanks to their long-lasting internal battery
Virtual assistant: on the other hand, we have the option to choose between three great virtual assistants that give our speaker a voice: Amazon Alexa , Google Assistant and Apple Siri .
Sound quality: This is a key aspect, especially when our product is essentially an audio player. However, it is not something easy to evaluate and, in fact, its definition is the subject of recurring discussion among sound professionals. In general, the number, size, and materials of audio components can give us a good idea of how good the sound will be.
If you are a purist of sound and want to do a deeper analysis of this aspect, at the end of this article we will explain in detail all the issues to take into account when talking about sound quality.
Connectivity: To be smart, these speakers must be able to connect to the internet and that is why they all have a WiFi connection point. However, we can access our equipment through many other ways, such as Bluetooth, USB or Micro USB input for mobile phones and auxiliary ports. We will also value the presence of compatibility with services such as Spotify Connect, Chromecast or AirPlay 2.
Design: The dimensions, weight and aesthetics of the product are not minor issues when we talk about a device that will have a place in our kitchen, bedroom or living room, and the manufacturers know it. That is why they constantly seek to improve themselves by innovating with increasingly decorative and combinable models. The design also includes issues such as the specifications for resistance to water and dust, which will tell us if the equipment is made to be used not only indoors, but also outdoors or in humid places such as a bathroom.
Device control: Not everyone is interested in managing other home automation devices with their speaker, but if you are one of those who want to have a smart home and control light bulbs, thermostats, cameras and locks with your voice like a futuristic science fiction movie, We will lean towards those speakers that support ZigBee technology to speed up the connection and response of our system.
To expand this information and find out more details about what smart speakers are, how they work, what the differences are between the different assistants and other frequently asked questions, do not forget to read our complete Buying Guide at the end of this article.
Best Smart Speakers in 2023
1. Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen
We start with the most basic of the smart speakers in the Amazon Echo family. It is the preferred option for those looking to enter the world of smart assistants, giving up a bit of sound quality in exchange for a simple, functional, and cheap product. These features have led the 3rd generation Echo Dot to become nothing less than the best-selling smart speaker on the market.
If we talk about the sound quality, this speaker shows a great improvement in both volume and sharpness, compared to its previous version. However, we can’t help but keep in mind that, due to its small size, it only has a 1.6-inch driver, which is still very weak compared to large specialized audio speakers. Does that mean I won’t be able to listen to music? No way.
The truth is that it sounds super good considering its size, and it is ideal to have it in the kitchen or in a room, although you should not try to fill a larger environment with sound.
From the point of view of the connectivity options it offers, we can use this speaker with WiFi , or link it with our mobile via Bluetooth . It also has a 3.5 mm auxiliary input with which we can connect it to a larger speaker and correct the weak point of the sound.
Without a doubt, one of the most careful aspects of this speaker is its aesthetics .
And it is that, keeping the traditional pill shape, but now with slightly rounded edges and a fabric finish that comes in 4 different colors (black, light gray, dark gray and mauve), the 3rd generation Echo Dot really combines well with the decoration of any environment and in our opinion it is much more beautiful than its previous versions, and even than its great competitor, the Google Nest Mini.
And what about the detail of its LED light ring? A genius that changes its color and animation to tell us if Alexa is listening to us or the microphone is muted, if we have notifications if a call is coming in if there is a connection error and even a quick display of the volume level. Simply beautiful.
The great weakness that we find in its design is that, like most of Amazon’s smart speakers, it does not have an internal battery, so it must always work plugged in, and it is not resistant to dust or water. In other words, we are facing a speaker that, despite its practical size, is not portable. This is something that should not worry those who are only looking for a smart speaker to have as a daily assistant at home.
2. Amazon Echo 4rd Generation
The most recent model of the Echo family is attractive from where you look at it, and that is that this new 4th generation Echo incorporates an innovative design and, thanks also to its improved sound it fits directly into the group of mid-range speakers.
Its new spherical and more spacious shape made it possible to incorporate a 3-inch neodymium woofer and two 0.8-inch tweeters. The result? A much more faithful response in the low and medium frequencies, with deeper bass and more dynamic mids, as well as obtaining clearer treble.
But those of Amazon did not stop with that, they really wanted to make the leap in sound quality and they achieved it through Dolby Atmos technology , which allows this speaker to achieve improved spatial reproduction . In addition, the new Echo is able to detect acoustics in the environment and can adapt the sound to the room , a true delight for the ears.
Available in 3 colors (black, grayish blue, and white), this design is made from recycled plastic, aluminum, and fabric , and features an LED light ring at the bottom, allowing lights to reflect off the surface. support surface and create an increased visual effect. A model with a built-in clock is also available .
In addition to the substantial improvement in sound quality, this smart speaker incorporates the AZ1 processor , a chip designed by Amazon for machine learning, with which better voice recognition and an increase in the speed of Alexa responses are achieved. .
In terms of connectivity, it does not present any new features compared to previous models, providing the possibility of connecting via WiFi and Bluetooth , and offering a 3.5 mm auxiliary input .
Finally, we meet again with a speaker whose design has not been designed to move too much, since it does not have an internal battery, nor does it certify resistance to dust or water . This is a smart speaker to have around the house, sounding much better than the Echo Dot but still insufficient to fill a large room like dedicated speakers like the Echo Studio do . In our opinion, it is the product with the best value for money within the Amazon family.
3. Amazon Echo Show 8
What if we added an interactive touch screen to Alexa’s smart technology ? It is no longer necessary to imagine it, since Amazon made it real with its Echo Show smart speakers, a superior option, ideal for lovers of audiovisual content and also for those who are looking for a more intuitive interaction.
We opted for this Alexa speaker with an 8-inch screen, which has several improvements over its smaller brother, the Echo Show 5 . First of all, what is in sight, a bigger screen. The new Echo Show 8 has a screen resolution of 1280x800p so you can enjoy your videos in HD quality .
To support a larger screen, a more bulky device had to be made, but Amazon knew how to take advantage of this extra space in the best way. The number and quality of the microphones were increased and two 2″ neodymium speakers of 10W each and a new passive radiator were incorporated, with which a team with twice the sound power and bass with much better definition was achieved. , although it is still a long way from what a dedicated speaker can offer.
Products in the Echo family (and Amazon in general) have us accustomed to connectivity options never being a problem, and the Echo Show 8 is no exception. We are talking about a speaker with WiFi , which also has Bluetooth , auxiliary input and a Micro USB port.
As for its design , we must recognize that to be one of the few speakers on the market that has a screen, it is a fairly light device . We can choose between two colors , light gray or black.
Another highlight on this smart speaker is its good privacy protection system , which consists of a button on the top that electronically disables the camera and microphone, while we also have the option to slide the integrated cover to cover the camera. In addition, it allows you to control all voice recordings , being able to review and delete them at any time.
Finally, let’s go to what everyone wants to know… what can I do with a smart speaker with a screen ? The possibilities are endless. From watching videos on Amazon Prime Video or playing video content from the browser, to making use of its 1MP camera to make video calls with other Echo Show devices or any mobile that has the Alexa app installed. Also, and how could it be otherwise, you can access the Amazon store to make your purchases in a much more practical way.
Another useful thing about this screen is that it can show you a recipe step by step while you are cooking, which makes it ideal to have as an assistant in the kitchen . And as if this were not enough, there is still more. With the Echo Show 8 you can control a security camera system, and you can even buy it directly with a mini camera with motion detection and two-way audio , to place in any room in the house.
4. Ultimate Ears Megablast
If there is a product that cannot be missing from this list, it is the new Ultimate Ears model, a speaker that achieves a perfect balance between top-quality sound, a completely portable design and Alexa, the voice that brings it to life. If you’re looking for a smart speaker that gives you the versatility to use it wirelessly anytime, anywhere, we’ve got you covered.
When evaluating the audio of the Ultimate Ears Megablast , we find a team that can stand up to any of the premium speakers on the market, while being far superior to its smaller version, the Ultimate Ears Blast . It features two 1-inch tweeters for added high-frequency definition, two 2-inch active drivers , and two 3-inch and 2-inch passive radiators that add boost to the lower frequencies.
We’re talking about a speaker with 360° projection that sounds great from any angle in the room. However, it does not obtain the highest possible rating in this area, since it does not have a system capable of recognizing the acoustics of the place and adapting it , a quality that customers often value highly.
The connectivity of this speaker covers basic needs with the possibility of manipulating it via WiFi or Bluetooth . It also features a Micro USB input for battery charging, and no 3.5mm aux input .
It is understandable that Google and Amazon speakers are not compatible with Apple’s connectivity protocols, since their smart ecosystems are direct competition in this market. But it’s hard to think of a reason why this Ultimate Ears model doesn’t support AirPlay 2 , which is a real shame.
Finally, we are going to talk about its design, the aspect in which the Megablast definitely stands out and differs from its rivals. It is a cylinder of 1.19 kg, totally portable. This speaker has a rechargeable lithium ion battery , thanks to which we will have an autonomy of approximately 16 hours , to take our smart speaker with us and continue enjoying good music and the company of Alexa anywhere. To recharge it, you can use the charger that comes with the equipment and that is connected through the Micro USB port on the bottom, or we can choose to buy the wireless charging support.
And what happens if I go to a park and dirt gets into it? What if it rains? None of this is a problem, as we are dealing with a speaker that is highly resistant to dust and is IP67 certified for water resistance , which means that it can be fully submerged in water for up to 30 minutes and still function perfectly. For a few extra euros we can also buy the cover that protects the equipment from possible bumps and has a grip strap for greater comfort when transporting it. and since this is a speaker for all tastes, we can choose between 6 different colors (blue, red, green, yellow, black and white).
Regarding the commands, this sound cylinder is impossible to confuse due to the huge [+] and [-] buttons that distinguish it. At the top you have the on/off button and the Bluetooth on and off button. A detail that draws a little attention is the absence of a button to mute the microphone, but don’t despair, of course it can be done: press the Bluetooth button and the [-] simultaneously, and Alexa will no longer be able to hear us.
5. Amazon Echo Studio
For all those who not only want to have their own voice assistant at home, but are looking for a speaker with the best possible sound, both to use individually and to connect it to a television, this is by far the most convenient option within the family. Threw out.
The Echo Studio is Amazon’s dedicated audio smart speaker, a dream come true for discerning customers. Responsible for its excellent sound quality and fidelity is the 5-speaker set inside. Yes, you read that right, 5 speakers! The entire frequency range is perfectly reproduced thanks to a 1-inch tweeter , a 5.25-inch woofer and three 2-inch midrange . We are talking about a speaker that delivers super clear highs, dynamic mids and powerful bass, where in turn the latter are maximized by the opening that the box has in the lower part.
This smart speaker has built-in stereo sound , and like the 4th-gen Echo , it can play formats that have been perfected in 3D thanks to Dolby Atmos technology , which takes stereo to a multidimensional level.
As the icing on the cake, the Echo Studio is able to recognize the architectural features of the room , analyze its acoustics, and continually adjust audio filters while it’s playing, to optimize sound output wherever it’s placed. You really couldn’t ask for more in terms of sound.
As in almost all smart speakers on the market, we can connect using a WiFi network or via Bluetooth . We also have a 3.5 mm jack , to be able to connect headphones, a microphone or another sound player.
Except for the cavity at the bottom to amplify the bass output , the design of the Echo Studio is fairly conventional, with a single black version . Cylindrical, covered in fabric, with buttons on the top to modify the volume, mute the microphone and the famous action button that all Amazon Echo have. It is a much heavier model than the others in this ranking (3.5 kg), but this weight gives it a rigidity that significantly suppresses vibrations , considering that it does not have specific anti-vibration accessories.
This is also an ideal speaker for home automation, since with Alexa you can control the smart devices in your home with your voice, in a simple and fun way. Do you have many smart light bulbs and your internet router is overloaded? Do some of your home automation devices often lose connection? Don’t worry, this speaker supports the ZigBee protocol , so you can connect as many devices as you want without your router going crazy.
As a last comment, it is worth clarifying that this speaker is not portable , but must be permanently plugged in to work. However, the combination of its excellent sound and connectivity features with the intelligence and practicality of Alexa means that no one can beat it at home.
6. Bose Home Speaker 500
The Bose Home Speaker 500 has well earned its place on the podium of this ranking, because it is solid in all analysable aspects, in addition to being considered by many as the best-sounding smart speaker .
Lovers of good sound know that when we talk about Bose, we talk about audio specialists, and this model really lives up to the fame of its manufacturers. With two custom drivers arranged to the left and right, this speaker achieves a wider soundstage than any of its competitors, with incredible stereo performance. That’s right, with the Bose Home Speaker 500 you won’t need two speakers to get high-definition stereo sound .
Plus, it features a premium passive radiator for deep bass that sounds great even at high volumes. If you want to set large environments to music, rest assured that with this Bose model you will not lack the power to do so. And in addition to sounding really loud for its size, we are facing the speaker with the most microphones on the market , which can recognize your voice requests with a lot of ambient noise and even if you are not close or have the music at full volume.
As for connectivity, it allows you to connect via WiFi and Bluetooth , and has a 3.5 mm jack . It ‘s also AirPlay 2 compatible , so as well as being able to choose to talk to Alexa or the Google Assistant, you’ll be able to connect it to the Siri ecosystem through your iPhone or iPad.
You can also make use of the Spotify Connect service , which allows music to be played on the speaker directly from Spotify’s servers, so you can use your smartphone for other things at the same time, like taking calls, without the music being interrupted.
Bose breaks the mold with a very attractive design , with its ellipse-shaped base, an aluminum grille that surrounds the entire bottom part without seams from top to bottom and a touch panel on the top. So far it is available in two colors , black and white.
In addition to the typical commands to modify the volume, pause/play, turn off the microphone and activate Bluetooth, this model has a novelty, 6 preset buttons where playlists or radio stations can be saved and function as shortcuts. Very practical, right?
What is most striking about the new Bose Home Speaker 500 is the rectangular screen on the front. It is an LCD screen that can show what is playing (name of the song or radio station, CD cover, artist, etc.) and when it is in standby mode it shows the time. It has nothing to do with the screen on Amazon ‘s Echo Show 8 , though, as it ‘s neither touch-enabled nor capable of playing video content . Let’s say it is a decorative and informative screen, but not interactive.
As a final comment, to say that this speaker is clearly first class and that it will not disappoint whoever gives it the opportunity, but yes, it will cost its good euros. It is the most expensive product in this ranking. A cheaper option is offered by its little brother, the Bose Home Speaker 300 , which has lower sound quality and no screen.
So now you know, if you want a stylish device with great sound and the flexibility to manage it with Google, Alexa or Siri , there’s nothing better than this model.
7. Libratone Zipp 2
And finally we come to the long-awaited number 1, the best smart speaker on the market 2022 . We are facing a device for all tastes , which can satisfy both those who want to have Alexa in an aesthetically attractive device, as well as those who want to enjoy top-quality audio and be able to use it wirelessly anywhere.
The Libratone Zipp 2 is a smart speaker with internal battery that, today, is the most complete and functional on the market.
It is a dedicated audio speaker that projects omnidirectionally so that we can hear perfectly well from anywhere in the room.
Inside, an explosive combo justifies its high sound quality: a 1-inch neodymium soft-dome tweeter and a 4-inch neodymium woofer, accompanied by two 4-inch low-frequency radiators, all supported by a digital amplifier. class D. All this translates into an impressive sound quality , with high definition treble, very good clarity in the voices, and very powerful and deep bass.
In addition, with this speaker we have the possibility of modifying the sound configuration between neutral, jazz, rock, soft, movie, live concert, classical music or oratory, to make the most of the type of audio we want to hear. On the other hand, through its array of 6 far-field microphones, it has an automatic equalizer that adjusts to obtain the best sound in any environment.
At the level of connectivity , we have to take our hat off to Libratone who did everything right. There is no other smart speaker that offers us as many connection possibilities as this one, and we can use it with WiFi , with Bluetooth , or listen to music directly from Spotify servers through Spotify Connect.
We have a 3.5 mm auxiliary input to connect it with another speaker, with a microphone or headphones, and also a USB input . And, as if that were not enough, we have AirPlay 2 compatibility to link it with our iPhone in the Apple ecosystem and Siri.
Many people are not sure if they prefer to buy a smart speaker to have their personal assistant at home or a portable speaker to be able to take music everywhere. The Libratone Zipp 2 solves both needs in one, since it incorporates the intelligence and voice of Amazon through Alexa, and the possibility of wireless use through a battery of up to 12 hours of autonomy .
As for its design , no one can deny the good taste of this speaker that mixes elegance with freshness in a rounded cylinder with a built-in grip accessory. The best? Its interchangeable cover allows you to modify the appearance of your speaker whenever you like. We can choose between 4 available colors : stormy black, frosty gray, cranberry red and pine green (what a name!).
The touch dial on the top is smooth, attractive, and has several additional controls over competing speakers. Through this dial we can control the forward, backward, pause and playback of songs, mute and turn on the microphone, switch between WiFi and Bluetooth, or activate the intelligent equalizer to adapt the sound to the room. In addition, it includes a very interesting function, which we also saw in the Bose Home Speaker 500 , and it is the option to store playlists or radio stations and access them directly with a preconfigured button.
In summary, the Libratone Zipp 2 is a spectacular and very complete speaker: leader in connectivity options, with an attractive, functional design and with variants starting from its interchangeable cover. A product that allows wireless use with a long-lasting battery and that in terms of sound competes equally with any dedicated audio speaker, being only surpassed by the Echo Studio , but with a considerably lower price , which makes it the best alternative on the market.
Our recommendations: best basic speaker
Libratone Zipp 2
A dedicated and portable audio smart speaker that offers the best connectivity options on the market and stands out for having a spectacular design with interchangeable colored covers.
The best part is that you can have all this at home for less than $120.
Guide to buying the best smart speaker
What started as a futuristic idea that seemed taken from a science fiction story, today is a reality that cannot be ignored. Smart speakers are part of everyday life for many people and they are definitely here to stay.
With a virtual assistant at home, we can request a song, check the weather, make a call, listen to the news, find the answer to that question that worries us so much or ask them to tell us a joke… we can also immerse ourselves fully in the world of home automation and control through our voice all the smart devices we have at home.
In this buying guide, we detail the basics and answer the most frequently asked questions so that you know which smart speaker to buy according to your needs and preferences.
What is a smart speaker?
As a short answer, we can say that a smart speaker is a speaker that has a built-in virtual assistant with which we can interact. This assistant can listen to our requests through the computer’s microphones, process them and return a response, which can be audio only or audio and image (in the case of speakers with a screen).
Like any speaker, we can use it to play music, but it is clear that the grace of this device does not stop there. Having an assistant with artificial intelligence that can answer our queries means that our speaker will be able to talk to us about how the weather will be this weekend, keep our agenda, help us with the step-by-step of a cooking recipe or send an email, among many others. functionalities.
And what does it mean to have artificial intelligence? That, as we use it, the assistant can “learn” about our preferences and search patterns , to improve the quality of the results it returns. That is, the more we use our smart speaker, the more accurate its responses will be.
What is a smart speaker for?
As a short answer we can say that a smart speaker is a speaker that has a built-in virtual assistant with which we can interact . This assistant can listen to our requests through the computer’s microphones, process them and return a response, which can be audio only or audio and image (in the case of speakers with a screen).
Like any speaker, we can use it to play music, but it is clear that the grace of this device does not stop there. Having an assistant with artificial intelligence that can answer our queries means that our speaker will be able to talk to us about how the weather will be this weekend, keep our agenda, help us with the step-by-step of a cooking recipe or send an email, among many others. functionalities.
Key points to choose the best smart speaker
The voice assistant market is booming and the competition is fierce. Year after year, the leading brands outperform themselves with new designs and better features, making the decision increasingly complex.
Other guides will recommend that you look at things like audio quality or connectivity options first, when this should be the final part of your evaluation process. Remember that we are not talking about ordinary speakers, but about smart speakers .
Whether you want to buy your first smart speaker, or are looking to upgrade the one you already have, take note of the following steps to ensure a choice that suits your needs.
1) What kind of speaker to buy? Ask yourself what you want to do with your smart speaker
To start choosing your ideal smart speaker, it is essential to be clear about what you plan to use it for . You should know that, in addition to the functions and abilities that each virtual assistant has, there are characteristics of the speaker that will define the type of use that you will give it.
In general, we can talk about 4 main categories of smart speakers: basic, dedicated audio, with screen and portable.
Basic or introductory speakers
For those who are looking to enter the world of smart speakers and enjoy their functions at home. We give up having great sound quality, an interactive screen or an internal battery, in exchange for something functional and cheap . These are the lowest-end products, the simplest. Ideal to have them in a reduced environment, such as the kitchen or the room.
Dedicated audio speakers
You should lean towards these if, in addition to wanting to interact with your assistant, you are interested in a speaker with a first quality sound , with which you can fill a large room without problems and enjoy your favorite songs in high definition. You should know that these products are usually the most expensive on the market, because they incorporate high-quality components and advanced audio technologies.
The perfect speakers for those who are more comfortable with audiovisual interaction . If you want to get extra out of your speaker, watching videos or making video calls, this is your best option. Usually these products are not portable and do not have amazing sound quality, but they are quite reasonably priced . More expensive than a basic one and cheaper than a dedicated audio one.
Are you one of those who want to make the most of your speaker and take it with you everywhere ? Well, don’t think about it so much. The portable speakers have an internal battery so that, in addition to using them at home like any other, you can take them wherever you want. They are relatively expensive products , although not as expensive as dedicated audio.
Of course, there are also products that could cover more than one of these categories, as is the case with the Top 1 of our ranking, the Libratone Zipp 2 , which is a dedicated portable audio speaker .
2) Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri? Compare and analyze which Virtual Assistant suits you best
The second key aspect of choice is deciding who you want to be the voice of your smart speaker . Do you want to have the Google assistant, the Apple assistant or the Amazon assistant? What does this decision depend on? Which of the three is the best? There is no single correct answer to these questions. The truth is that each virtual assistant has its strengths and weaknesses, but, in general, they all respond adequately to the basic requirements, so the choice should go through the affinity you have with the ecosystem of one or the other , and by your intention to connect your speaker with other devices.
Let’s see in which case we should use each one:
The unmistakable assistant designed by Amazon and integrated into its Echo family of smart speakers, it is the most marketed and popular today. Much of the success of smart speakers with Alexa is based on the great compatibility they have with other devices. Currently, it has more than 30,000 compatible devices from almost 5,000 different manufacturers. This makes Alexa the largest ecosystem of all, allowing the integration of all kinds of gadgets, such as light bulbs, thermostats, robot vacuum cleaners , plugs, etc. On the other hand, in addition to having the largest family of own speakers on the market, there are more than 100 products that, without being from Amazon, allow you to control Alexa, as is the case with several of the smart speakers in this ranking.
Although Alexa does not come integrated with any mobile operating system, we can have this assistant on our phone . We only have to download the Alexa application, which is compatible with both Android and iOS, and her voice will already be available on our mobile to assist us when we need it.
We’re not talking about the smartest voice assistant we could have. At the moment, that position is still held by Google Assistant, since it achieves a more complex level of conversation than Alexa. However, the Amazon assistant is in a process of constant improvement and since its appearance in 2014 it has evolved a lot. It is expected that it will continue to improve so as not to be left behind in the competition with its main rival.Google Assistant
We could never talk about virtual assistants and omit mentioning Google Assistant, one of the pioneers in this market. One of the keys to this assistant is that it is integrated with all Android devices , this being the most widely used operating system in the world.
It’s safe to say that Google Assistant is the “smartest” assistant today , based on its ability to understand more complex vocabulary and answer more abstract questions. It is definitely the one that so far is closest to human conversation logic, allowing us to make our requests in a much more natural way.
However, unlike Amazon’s assistant, Google Assistant is “only” compatible with around 10,000 devices . We are still talking about a very large ecosystem, but the difference is notable, and it is possible that we find more than one popular device that does not have compatibility with Google.
Assistant skills (called ‘actions’ in Assistant or ‘skills’ in Alexa) are another important point to consider. To make a quick comparison, Google Assistant has so far about 4,600 actions in the United States, while Alexa has more than 60,000 skills. An overwhelming difference, which is reflected in the fact that Alexa can interact in more ways and with more actions with the different devices .
Apple’s renowned voice is the third most popular assistant on the market. As for its artificial intelligence, Siri is at the same level as that of Alexa, with a great capacity for interpretation and multiple functions that are executed very quickly. On the other hand, Apple offers a more closed and private ecosystem , in which, unlike Amazon and Google, the data from our searches is not associated with a personal profile, which means that our information cannot be used or sold and that we do not get targeted advertising all the time.
Another plus point of Siri is that it has the best developed and optimized mobile application , with the easiest installation and configuration process of the three.
But not everything is perfect with Siri. The fact that its ecosystem is so closed and exclusive greatly shortens the possibilities of compatibility. Unfortunately, this assistant is currently compatible with fewer than 300 devices , because all devices that want to connect to Apple’s smart home software, HomeKit, must meet the company’s stringent encryption requirements.
In line with this, Siri’s biggest downside is that it’s only available through Apple devices . You can use this assistant on iPhones, iPads, AirPods, MacBook, or Apple Watch. The same thing happens in the field of smart speakers, where we can only have Siri on the HomePod.
★ If you want to connect your speaker with multiple devices and have a smart home full of gadgets, you should go for Alexa , the most flexible and compatible assistant on the market.
★ If your whole world has been adapted to the Google ecosystem for years and you don’t have much interest in connecting many smart devices in your home, don’t hesitate, Google Assistant is your best option.
★ Finally, if you have a network of Apple devices, and you are not motivated by massive compatibility with other home automation devices, stay with Siri , which will be your most faithful ally.
- If you are not really convinced with any of the three and you are afraid of making the wrong choice, we recommend that you look at smart speakers that are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant at the same time, and that have AirPlay 2 to be able to connect them too . with Siri. In this way, you will have the possibility to try the different assistants and change the ecosystem at any time.
3) Evaluate its main features and find your ideal speaker
Once you know what type of speaker you want and which one is the best virtual assistant for you, see which ones meet these conditions and, now, compare their main features and choose! .
Depending on the type of speaker for which you have decided, you will put more interest in one or the other characteristics, but it is recommended that when making the final evaluation you always take them all into account.
It is clear that this is an absolutely key aspect when we are talking about an audio device, but how can we know if a speaker has good sound quality or not? First of all, three fundamental parameters: the frequency response , the RMS power and the sensitivity .
Frequency response :
This is one of the most important aspects of sound quality analysis and is often overlooked. As it is an attribute that often generates confusion, we will explain it in detail so that it is clear how it should be interpreted.
The frequency response reflects the volume with which each range of frequencies will be heard in our speaker, that is, how it will respond to each frequency (hence its name). It is normal to see it indicated as a frequency range, for example (40 – 35,000 Hz), which tells us what frequencies the device will work for (remember that the human ear is capable of hearing sounds within the range of 20 to 20,000 Hz).
However, these values are not very relevant to us, since generally the entire audible range is covered by any loudspeaker. What really interests us is the volume variation that the speaker presents when reproducing the different frequencies . Ideally, this variation should be as small as possible, for this reason, we should focus on the graph of volume as a function of frequency, and opt for those speakers that achieve a curve as flat as possible .
In other words, we are looking for a speaker where the bass, midrange and treble always sound relatively the same. In those cases in which the manufacturer does not make these graphs available, we must observe the value that they usually indicate as a variation in dB, which indicates the difference in volume between the frequency that sounds loudest and the one that sounds lowest. The highest value we should accept is +/- 6 dB.
RMS power :
It is the average power within which the loudspeaker will perform optimally without risking or damaging any component of the equipment. We must know that a higher power requires a higher voltage and that translates into a higher heating of the coil. If this value is exceeded for a long time, we will significantly reduce the useful life of the speaker, and we even run the risk of damaging it irreparably.
Important! It should not be confused with the so-called Peak Power , which expresses the maximum power value that the speaker could withstand without being damaged, in a very short period of time (thousandths of a second). If we subject the speaker to this power for a long time, it will surely burn because it cannot dissipate the heat generated.
It refers to the amount of sound pressure the speaker can produce relative to the amount of voltage it receives. A speaker will have better sensitivity the higher this number is, that is, the more sound pressure we can generate with the same amount of voltage. Do you mean it will sound louder? Not quite. What matters to us about this parameter is that a loudspeaker with greater sensitivity will be able to reach the same sound level in dB as another but with a lower voltage consumption, which translates into less heating of the coil and a longer useful life of the equipment. .
In addition to these parameters, in our analysis we have considered other aspects that make a difference when we talk about sound quality: the number and type of channels and the ability to adapt to the environment .
Number and type of tracks :
The most basic speakers have a single path through which they reproduce the full range of sound frequencies. Others, using special filters, can distribute sound waves of different frequencies in different kinds of specialized drivers for each type of frequency.
For example, we can find speakers with woofers for the bass (10 to 256 Hz), drivers for the mids (256 to 2000 Hz) and tweeters for the treble (2000 to 20,000 Hz). There are even speakers that have more than one driver for each of these ranges, achieving even more detailed sound. However, just as important as the quantity is the quality of these pathways. Typically, the larger the drivers, the more faithful their reproduction, with neodymium being the material of choice for audio drivers.
Ability to adapt to the environment:
In recent years, several speakers have appeared with the ability to adapt their sound to the room in which we place them. Speakers like the Sonos One, Echo Studio , Echo 4th Gen, and Libratone Zipp 2 feature software that scans and recognizes the architectural features of the venue to optimize sound output and achieve the best possible audio for each location and place.
At this point, the main aspects to take into account are:
- Dimensions and weight : if we already have the default place for our speaker, we will make sure that it fits there without problems and that its weight is not an inconvenience either, especially if we are one of those who like to move it from one side of the house to another.
- Resistance : Many smart speakers are designed with a waterproof and dustproof cover, so that we can use them in humid rooms like the bathroom, or take them out on the patio without having to walk around taking care that they are not damaged by the earth. or a few drops of rain.
- Commands – Here we will look at how the device is manually manipulated. Does it have a touchpad or does it have physical buttons? Are they at the top or to the side? There is no one better than another, but our user experience will change depending on which system we are used to using.
- Aesthetics – Despite not being a functional feature, you probably don’t want to have a stark, black block to use as a portable speaker in a park, or an extra colorful design for a fancy decorated living room. It is important that you like your speaker and, therefore, the style and range of colors that each model offers us is an aspect to consider when we are choosing.
Here you basically have to consider how many ways you have to connect to your smart speaker. In itself, absolutely everyone and without exception have a connection via WiFi , because otherwise they would lose their main attribute, that of being “intelligent”. The rest of the connection paths vary from one model to another, but we will always prefer the one that gives us more alternatives.
Within the options, the second most important wireless connection behind WiFi is Bluetooth . Not having this facility should be considered a sin in a modern loudspeaker. On the other hand, many speakers usually have a 3.5 mm jack input to connect the equipment to another larger speaker or headphones, and also a USB or Micro USB input to connect directly to the mobile.
Another point of connectivity highly valued these days is AirPlay 2 , Apple’s protocol that allows you to connect your speaker to the Siri ecosystem through your iPhone. As expected, we will never find this option in speakers from Google or Amazon, since they are direct competition. However, it is common for speakers from other brands to have this useful connection point with Apple.
At this height. You already know that with a smart speaker you can control the other gadgets you have in your smart home. The skills that one speaker has against another in this field depends on the virtual assistant they have. As we have already mentioned before in this guide, Alexa takes the first place with a great difference, for being the assistant with the greatest compatibility with other devices. They are followed by Google with very good performance, and at the bottom of the podium Siri , with a much poorer network of compatible brands and devices.
But if we have many connected home automation devices in our home, we will not only care about the compatibility that our assistant has with them, but also that our internet router does not go crazy trying to manage so many IPs at the same time. How is this resolved? with ZigBee technology , which is neither more nor less than a wireless connection protocol such as WiFi or Bluetooth, but which offers the advantage of allowing all devices that have this protocol to connect to the same node, and this node connects to our internet network as a single IP, avoiding overloading it and speeding up the operation of our intelligent system.
So if we have or plan to have a smart home with many gadgets to control and have fun, we should focus on a speaker that supports ZigBee.
Of course we were not going to forget a variable as important as the price. And it is that one of the most common questions we ask ourselves is: how much should I spend on a smart speaker?
The answer to this question is tied to what you decided in step 1 of this guide, which is what kind of smart speaker you’re targeting.
★ If you are looking for a basic speaker to get into the world of virtual assistants, you are in luck because these are the cheapest and with between $30 and $50 you can get a very good product.
★ For a speaker with a screen , prices start at about $75 for the smallest (5″) and go up to just over $100 for the largest (8″).
★ Portable speakers are usually a bit more expensive than the previous ones since they incorporate high-performance lithium batteries, so it is normal that we find them around $150.
★ Finally, if what you are looking for is a dedicated audio smart speaker , here things vary a lot depending on the brand and the sound components that each one has. We can find the most modest from $150 and the more premium the product, it can reach up to $350 and sometimes more.
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