More than any other smart device, smart speakers can make us feel like we’re living in a sci-fi movie. Yes we know that interacting with little cylindrical boxes isn’t always seamless, but functionalities in the newest smart speakers really are impressive. The below article is our definitive guide to smart speakers in 2021.
What are Smart Speakers?
Smart speakers are similar to Bluetooth speakers. They can play music, but the differentiating factors lies in their overarching features such as internet connectivity, digital assistance, and networking via voice. The mesmerizing voices of Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant can easily perform all of the following tasks:
- Play specific artists or songs using your favourite streaming app
- Search the web and read out results
- Call for takeout or order from a delivery app
- Translate a voice
- Connect with other smart devices
- Send you reminders and notify you of calendar events
- Report the weather and read news headlines
Finally, here are out thoughts on some of the top speakers that we were able to review this year. Let’s get to the product reviews!
Custom command: Siri | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 6.8 + 5.6 inches | Colors: Space gray, White
- Elegant design — Elegant design with a touch of Apple aesthetics
- Applecare+ insurance —Two-year insurance plan covers accidental damages.
- High security — Apple devices are secure against cyber attacks.
Apple has always emphasized the user experience in their desigs and HomePod makes no exception. This swish-rounded cylinder carries with it the legacy of a high-end manufacturer. The Home Pod is sold in two colours, Space Gray and White. The top has a shiny black circle that glitters upon touch. You may use the same panel for adjusting the volume, pausing, advancing to a track and to activate the Artificial Intelligence assistant, Siri.
At the time of Apple’s assistant listening, the mid of the round scintillates in a lucid blob. In case you don’t want Siri to listen to you, you can hold the top and desist Siri.
The comfy dimensions of 6.8″ tall and 5.6″ diameter are alluring to the onlookers. While Apple has also paid extra attention to the power cord, the cord is enveloped in a special-purpose cloth-like material that resembles silk. On the downside, the cord is not detachable.
If the cord gets damaged by a roughshod vacuum cleaner or hungry dog, you will have to reach out to an Applecare+ insurance plan covering the incidents for up to two years. Nonetheless, you will have to pay the extra sum of $39 for each damage.
HomePod is equipped with a large woofer and seven tweeters, but there is no option of adjusting the equalizer. It does not mean that the sound quality is bad, but the singers like Bruce Springsteen would sound odd on Home Pod. Siri identifies the music that HomePod plays, but the domain is only restricted to Apple Music.
It is fascinating to hear the “Hey Siri” greetings arising out of HomePod. The integrated Siri assistance reminds the goodness of the heavens. To receive or make a call, you will have to do it by your cell phone and then opt HomePod as a speakerphone. The process is not seamless like Google Assistant or Alexa, which identifies and connects the smart speaker by recognizing the voice.
HomePod could be integrated into other smart home devices but to a lesser extent owing to Apple’s stringent security rules. Some of the compatible devices are August Smart Locks, Philips Hue lights, Ecobee smart thermostats, and iHome smart plugs.
In short, Apple HomePod is an impressive speaker. However, it still has much room for improvements, such as multiple voice recognition and timers offered by rival Google and Amazon.
Amazon Echo Studio
Custom command: Alexa | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 8.1 + 6.9 inches | Colors: Black
- Adjustable with acoustics properties — To maintain optimal performance, Echo Star adjusts with the surrounding environment.
- Ultra HD music player — Echo star could play cutting-edge ultra HD music.
- AI Multitasking — The high-end Alexa AI support could perform a variety of tasks through voice recognition.
Echo Studio has an optical-in port to connect with your TV to use a smart speaker as an alternative to the soundbar. The intelligent speaker adjusts the acoustic properties to fit with the room, but for this, you have to walk into the room for 45 minutes brandishing Echo Studio in your hands.
Echo Studio is manufactured to compete with contemporary smart speakers as it emanates quality sound with resonant bass. The forte of the Echo Studio is its ability to play 3D audio and ultra HD music. Nonetheless, to listen to these top-notch tracks, the user has to subscribe to Amazon Music HD that needs an extra investment of $14.99.
Thanks to Alexa, Echo Studio could control home devices, play games or music, make calls, and many more smart tasks. Alexa could perform more than 100,000 skills single-handedly. Amazonfills up the room with chests providing incessant visceral bass, and this forte makes the Echo Studio by Amazon a viable choice.
Google Nest Audio Smart Speaker
Custom command: Google Assistant | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 10 × 6 × 4 inches | Colors: White
- Loud sound — Nest Audio produces 75% more sound than the preceding versions.
- TeraOPS chip — TeraOPS chip expedites the process manifold.
- Google Account management — Google account saves up the archives where the data could be accessed in a jiffy.
Google Nest Audio is the updated version of the original Google Home. Nest Audio is a great-sounding but economical speaker with elegant techy looks.
The LED status array of Nest Audio is nestled beneath the fabric-laden exterior. On the back, there is a toggle that helps in usability and compatibility. The 19 mm tweeter and 75 mm woofer maximizes the sound quality and produces 75% more sound than the original Google Home.
If you listen to the Heart of Glass of Blondie via Nest Audio, which envelops the bongo drum, cymbal roll, and bass tracks, the sensation would be classy. A couple of Nest Audio produces the stereo effect and displays the overarching musical sensation throughout the home.
Nest Audio speaker aptly covers the Google assistant commands – Hey Google is a magical spell. You can direct Nest Audio to raise the tune or play the song from the preference list. The Nest Audio is also compatible with smart home appliances.
One glittering aspect of Nest Audio is that it stores all the archives in the Google account via the TeraOPS chip. You can restore and delete recordings whenever you want. TeraOPS chip expedites the process, and responses cone even faster. The Google Assistant is intelligent enough to raise the response voice according to the tone of direction.
Google Nest Audio is recommended for Google homeowners who are comfortable with Google assistance. Nest Audio is a quality version than predecessors and is popular for its less plastic structure and fast responses.
Echo Show smart display with Alexa
Custom command: Google Assistant | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.2 x 4inches | Colors: Gray Chalk, Charcoal gray
- Facial recognition — The facial recognition feature discerns up to six persons.
- Compatibility — Google Nest Hub Max is compatible with smart home devices.
- High aesthetics — Gray chalk and charcoal gray color are incredibly pleasing.
Besides, 10-inch screen, the Google Nest Hub Max is installed with a video camera that extends facial recognition and monitors movement. This is an upgraded version of Nest Hub.
The design of the Nest Hub Max is scintillating that looks like a tablet crowned on a fabric oval stand. At the same time, gray chalk and charcoal gray finish are elegant to the core.
Interestingly, the 1280 × 800 pixels resolution automatically dims and brightens with the colors of the room. A couple of 18mm tweeters and a single 75mm woofer put out a hell of a sound.
Face match recognizes up to six persons, although this is optional. While the camera has a 127-degree field of view, it can fix onto an object and then digitally zoom and pan to follow around. Nest Hub Max can stream audio from Pandora, Google Play Music, and Spotify, while video could be played directly from Starz, Youtube, HBO, and Netflix.
Nest Hub Max supports the device integration protocol for smart home devices, including the big names as Amazon, Apple, Lutron, LG, and more. The spacious display, strong loudspeakers, and piercing camera enable Nest Hub Max a viable choice to play smart tricks.
Bose Home Speaker with Alexa Voice Control
Custom command: Google Assistant, Alexa | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 4.31 x 6.68 x 8.01 inches | Colors: Black
- AI support — Bose supports both Google Assistant and Alexa.
- Noise cancellation technology — The noise cancellation technology thwarts unwanted distortion.
- LCD crystal display — LCD aspires to the playing status.
The wall-to-wall stereo effect is bestowed by the Bose Home Speaker 500, making it a perfect choice for kitchen or large living rooms. Bose Home Speaker 500 supports both Google Assistant and Alexa. While the eight sound arrays offer quality voice pick up owing to the noise cancellation technology.
Six presets for playlists, internet radio stations, playing, pausing, and skipping tracks are the highlighted features of the Bose Home 500 Control. Amazingly, Bose supports almost everything from Amazon Music and Spotify to Pandora, Deezer, TuneIn, and more. At the same time, the LCD crystal display shows the playing status.
Be it a puzzle party, living room dance party, or cooking competition – Bose Home Speaker 500 delivers all the acoustic aesthetics to the user. Is anyone listening?
Sonos one Smart Speaker
Custom command: Alexa, Google Assistant | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 4.72 x 4.72 x 6.34 inches | Colors: Black
- Stereo sound — Sonos One could also act as a stereo speaker when contrasting with the second.
- Wireless build — can be adjoined wirelessly from a comparative distance.
- Humidity resistant — Sonos One is humidity resistant so that it could be placed in the bathroom too.
The AI-supported Sonos One smart speaker combines multi-audio capabilities and intuitive commands of Google Assistant or Alexa. Sonos One might be the best compatible speaker with AI technologies.
Additionally, Sonos One integrates almost all services such as Pandora, Apple Music, and others. The 161mm cuboid with molded corners is designed like a conventional bookshelf speaker. Above all, there is a sensitive button to turn off and on the microphones, volume down and up, and play-pause audio. Swiping from right to left across both volume buttons back, skins, and forward the track.
The Sonos One perches as a quality smart speaker among the contemporary lot and justifies most of Alexa’s great. The ramification is the best one-size-fits-all music-focused smart speaker from the UK market.
Custom command: Google Assistant | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 25.4 x 15.24 x 12.7 cm | Colors: Black
- Long living battery — JBL link could be used for 3.5 hours consistently.
- Google Assistant support — The nifty speaker is supported by Google Assistant.
- Waterproof — JBL link is waterproof and can be placed in humid places.
JBL link smart speaker is a nifty choice to integrate with the smart appliances through the Google Home app. The IPX7 rating corroborates the company’s waterproof claim, while it could be used consistently for 3.5 hours once fully charged.
You will find the Bluetooth button, mic mute option, battery indicator, and power button in a row. Above all JBL link is supported with Google Assistant’s assistance.
You can configure the JBL Link using the Google Home iOS app and assign a codename to connect with the existing network.
On the problem of placement, we come to know that if we remove the JBL Link from its charging port and affix it upright on the dinner table or surfaces more prone to resonance, the bass goodness is affected – more than the competitors.
In sum, JBL is considered a quality speaker for your home or en route, which also relishes Google Assistant with wi-fi. JBL has almost all the goodies in its bucket. The portable link feature perches JBL as a competitive contender in the genre of viable smart speakers.
Yamaha Audio Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
Custom command: Alexa | Device integration: Yes | Dimensions: 2.44 x 4.29 x 36.6 inches | Colors: Black
- Wireless subwoofer — The wireless subwoofer helps in easy placement and theater-like brass.
- DTS virtual X — Spacious and life-like effects envelop the animations thanks to DTS virtual X technology.
- Clear voice — Clear voice is indeed the forte of Yamaha Yas 209.
Yamaha Yas 209 is a soundbar, but not the actual speaker. However, it could be used as an alternative to a speaker too. The Alexa-supported speaker extends the overarching cascading sound features to the surrounding aura. Yamaha controls the soundbar, plays programs and music.
the device can also be integrated into smart appliances.
The wireless subwoofer converts your home into a medieval theatre wherein you perch like a royal king. This mock graphics happens to owe to the DTS virtual X technology.
Alexa’s artificial intelligence supports Yamaha.
It recognizes the voice and acts accordingly. Yamaha Yas 209 is easy to install by HDMI or optical fiber.
These swish qualities of Yamaha Yas 209 make it the most competitive product in the speaker’s genre.
Every speaker has its forte and could not be contrasted on one pretext or another. As the above are the top picks, and almost every brand incorporated the living legend features.
So here, the decision lies with your gut feeling and aesthetic intuition. Go as the time to rock-and-roll is approaching fast.