Shopping for a new speaker is no longer about just music. Finding a speaker with excellent sound is straightforward. The tried-and-tested audio brands all produce high-end speakers. But these days, most listeners require something a little smarter. This is the age of the smart home, after all.
But smart speakers are saturating the market. You can spend all day scouring product descriptions and review sections to find the best fit for your smart home.
Fear not. We won’t let you go to all that hassle. Instead, we compiled a list of what we feel are the best smart speakers you can get right now. But first, here’s some important information to help you make a decision.
What is a smart speaker?
Smart speakers usually come with built-in voice assistants and can be found in almost any home at this point. If you have a bunch of smart devices in your home — smart lights, a smart thermostat, smart home security, a smart robot vacuum, or even a smart toaster (yes, that’s a real thing) — a smart speaker can act as a hub that keeps them connected and controls your smart home overall. In short, a smart speaker is what makes your home truly smart.
Are smart speakers worth the money?
Although smart speakers aren’t always the best way to listen to your audio and aren’t usually prioritised for music, they’re absolutely worth having if you have the budget. (And you might not even notice the audio downgrade unless you have a finely-tuned audiophile ear.) Plus, smart speakers don’t always have to break the bank — there are plenty of budget options out there, including the fantastic Echo Dot(opens in a new tab), which we’ll get into more below
Why do you need a smart speaker?
The real reason to get a smart speaker is convenience. Hands-free voice assistants are the name of the game when it comes to smart speakers. Being able to plan your day, catch up on news, play music, and control most of your smart tech just by talking to your a speaker is truly excellent. It’s a great way to maximise your day by doing less.
What’s the best voice assistant?
There are really only three worthwhile voice assistants out there: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri. Out of those three, most would put Siri at the bottom. That’s not to say that Siri is a bad voice assistant, but Apple is just way too exclusive about their propriety operating systems, and Siri is only available to Apple devices.
Then we get to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It comes down to personal choice. Both Amazon and Google have their specialist skills. You can’t really lose with either choice here — just think about what features you want most, and go for the one that fits that vision best.
What skills does Alexa have?
If you’re an online shopper and have an arsenal of smart devices throughout your home, Alexa will probably be your best bet. Amazon’s smart speakers recognise more devices than Google’s Assistant, so you’re more likely to have a better time with an Echo if you really want to go for a true smart home.
Alexa’s direct connection to the Amazon store also makes online shopping easy, allowing you to add things to your cart and check out solely through voice commands. If you get a lot of your goods from Amazon, Amazon’s smart speakers are kind of a no-brainer.
What can Google Assistant do?
Google Assistant tends to be better at things like general knowledge, location services, and other real-world information that you might need at a moment’s notice. Google Assistant is also great for those with Android phones, enabling easy exchanges of information between your smartphone and smart speaker when using Google-supported apps.
Google speakers also tend to be better at networking, so if you’re looking to buy more than one smart speaker to connect them, Google is probably where you’ll want to start.
What are the best smart speakers?
Selecting any sort of speaker is not easy, especially as there are so many devices out there offering similar sets of features. We know it’s a tough decision, so we’ve tried to make your life easier by lining up a selection of the best smart speakers.
We’ve highlighted the very best smart speakers from top brands like Sonos(opens in a new tab) and Apple(opens in a new tab), with something for everyone and every budget. You just need to carefully consider all of these options, and then pick the speaker that best matches up with your set of personal preferences.
These are the best smart speakers in 2022.