A speaker plays music, audiobooks, radio or any sound you want to play through it. That’s all they do, right? Wrong. Smart speakers are the next big thing in the speaker world and are perfect for people who want more something more than just sound.
Smart speakers have created a whole new tech category and brands such as Amazon and Google are leading the way. They’re more special than your average wireless speaker, and with features such as Alexa you can do almost anything with a internet connected speaker from getting the latest headlines to hearing the lyrics of your favourite song.
What is a Smart Speaker?
Smart speakers are wireless speakers with voice control built into them. Technically, a smart speaker is a speaker with internet access, a Bluetooth connection or speakerphone abilities – but as speaker technology is moving forwards so quickly consumers now expect speakers to have voice control and artificial intelligence-like abilities to make all their sci-fi dreams come true.
How do I choose?
Like most things, there’s a huge range of Smart Speakers available on the market, so how do you decide which one is the best for you? There’s some key things you should consider depending on your needs; you should think about how much you’d like to spend, where you’d like to put the speaker in your home and what you want to get out of it.
You should also look at sound quality, if you’re a hard-core music fan you may want to choose the speaker which will sound the best, and compatibility – if you have an Android phone then it’s likely it will work well with a Google speaker.
Top 5 Smart Speakers
The Sonos One is the first Sonos speaker with Alexa integration. It has a sleek design, comes in a range of colours and could be put on a Sonos stand (bought separately) which gives real impact. The Sonos has an excellent, full bodied sound and really is one for music lovers. It uses an internet connection and the handy Sonos app lets you control and manage all your music in one place.
It can be integrated with Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music and internet radio. Multiple speakers can be connected easily and seamlessly, even if you buy them separately. Each speaker can work together or play different music at the same time. It’s a bit pricier than other speakers on the market, but if you’re looking for quality then the Sonos is an excellent choice.
The Google Home speaker is one of the more attractive speakers on the market at the moment. Its sleek, sophisticated design comes in different base colours to suit every home. The Google speaker is super smart, it can tell you much plane tickets cost, the weather in your area, play your favourite music and even control your smart home.
The main attraction for the Google Home speaker is the smart technology within, but it’s also got great speaker capability. The speaker, much like the Sonos One, can access a range of streaming services (Google Play Music, Spotify, Youtube Music, etc) and it also works as a WiFi speaker. The Google Home speaker can search through a range of music options, and essentially play you anything you ask for.
A new tech trend can’t come on the market without Amazon getting involved and bringing their own version to the table. The Amazon Echo is Amazon’s own smart speaker which boasts Alexa and a up to date sophisticated design which comes in a choice of interchangeable colours. Amazon has focused on sound quality as a priority, and the Echo can be connected to a larger speaker if needed with its wireless Bluetooth technology.
The main attraction of the Amazon Echo is Alexa, a digital assistant with several skills and all you must do to summon her is say her name. Alexa has made controlling your smart home a complete doddle and is a very effective way to get information fast.
Apple have jumped on the band wagon of bringing out smart speakers with the Apple HomePod – “the new sound of home”. The HomePod comes complete with Siri, Alexa’s main rival on the market, and works best with Apple Music. This speaker has the most ‘classic speaker’ look of all the speakers we’ve spoken about today and is small and compact. Like most Apple products, the HomePod is extremely easy to set-up and features a glowing light on the top which turns into the Siri sign whilst Siri is being used.
The most impressive thing about the HomePod is that it works our where it is in a room by emitting sound and listening to how it bounces back around. The speaker will then adjust itself according to play the sound is the most pleasing way. The HomePod is user friendly and good looking, but is it worth paying a premium for?
Is it worth it?
When it comes down to it, a smart speaker is a standard speaker with some extra fun thrown in. But is it really worth getting when having a speaker and mobile phone (which a lot of people already do) is much the same thing, without the convenience. If you’re looking to enjoy all the benefits of a smart home then a Smart Speaker is the way to go, and it’s a great introduction into the world of smart living.