What is the Best Smart SpeakerNovember 12, 2019
If you frequent this website, you would be aware that I’m all for Smart Speakers. I love the things, and in 2019 they are better than ever. I’ve touched on Smart Speakers here and there in other articles, but I’ve never discussed what is the Best Smart Speaker overall. The reason being, there are different Smart Speakers for different situations.
This article assumes you already know the capabilities of a Smart Speaker and virtual assistant, if you don’t, check out this article first.
What is the Best Smart Speaker?
Best Sounding Smart Speaker
Amazon Echo Studio
Amazon Echo devices have always been great Smart Speakers, but never great Speakers. Let me explain, one of the main criticisms has always been mediocre sound quality. Most of the Echo range sound, OK, but they could never replace the UE Wonderboom when it comes to sound and speaker quality. The Echo Studio aims to change that, in a major way.
The Echo studio uses Dolby Atmos and a number of microphones to create the illusion of 3D immersive sound. It really is impressive how much speaker Amazon has crammed into the Studio. If you purchase two Echo Studios you can sync them up and experience true surround sound. To take full advantage of this speaker, it’s recommended that you have an Amazon Music, this will enable you to play true HD Music files.
You still get the full Alexa experience and it functions exactly like all other Echo devices. Priced at USD 199.99 your would hard-pressed to find another $200 speaker that can compete. This is the first Echo product that can replace your Mini Hi-Fi system and most portable Bluetooth speakers.
Best Sound Bar Smart Speaker
The Yamaha YAS-209 was the first Smart Sound Bar from Yamaha. It was released in 2017, and since then the market has adopted a similar integration of smart assistants. Even though it’s 2 years old, there is still a lot to love about the YAS-209.
This compact soundbar still sounds amazing, it has a broad sound stage and sounds bigger than it is. The party trick is Alexas ability to recognize your voice when the volume is turned up. Yamaha has added two microphones that exist purely to pick up your voice over all the other noise. This system works well, and Alexa shines because of it.
A portable Smart Assistant really has no purpose in a theater, the minute you turn up the volume it will struggle to hear you. Yamaha has created a product that will hear you. It provides the same smart functionality as an Echo device, plus tried and true Yamaha audio for your movies and TV shows. You can pick up the Yamaha YAS-209 on Amazon for USD 349.95.
Best Budget Smart Speaker
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
It’s no secret, I’m a fan of the Echo Dot. The 2nd Gen Echo Dot was one of my favorite pieces of tech in 2018. That trend continues in 2019. The Dot improves on the 2nd Gen in almost every single way but keeps its price super affordable.
The 3rd Gen Echo Dot looks and feels more premium than the first. It has a fabric cover exterior and soft-touch plastic build. You can get the new Echo in multiple colors to suit any personality. The 3rd Gen has a bigger speaker on board, it’s 1.6 inches vs Gen 2 1.1 Inches. Amazon claims that the 3rd gen is 70% louder than its predecessor, which is a substantial improvement. Another reason I love the dot is it has a 3.5mm port to connect up to external speakers.
The Dot isn’t the biggest smart speaker on the block, but I challenge you to find one that does more for the price. You can pick up the 3rd Gen Echo Dot for just USD 49.99. If you are stuck for cheap Christmas presents or looking to add smart functionality to one room, get the Echo Dot.
Best Smart Speaker with Display
Google Nest Hub Max
The Google Nest Hub Max is the Best Smart Speaker with a Display, easily. Keep in mind this can be subjective, but if you like Google Home UI, and how it looks, you will like the Nest Hub. I haven’t given Google Assistant much love in this article, but it shines on the Nest Hub.
The Hub Max has a beautiful 7-inch display. That display is 1280 x 800 pixels which isn’t industry-leading, but it’s good enough for it’s intended use. Google has designed the Nest Hub for use in Bedrooms or Kitchens specifically, but obviously you can use it however you like. It’s intended to be used while doing something else, like cooking food, getting ready for work, or casually watching YouTube while in bed. No Netflix support to be found, so this won’t be considered your main way of watching your favorite show.
Nest Hub Max easily has the best Speaker of any Smart Speaker with a display. Its sound quality is comparative to the Sonos One, which is no slouch. This speaker could easily replace a home Hi-Fi and will do well in smaller areas and apartments. You still get full Google Assistant functionality, which is similar to that of Alexa and Siri. You can still set reminders, Google Things, and control other Nest Products, think of the Nest Hub Max as a Smart Hub as well.
Amazon still doesn’t sell Google Home Products, but you can pick up the Google Nest Hub Max directly from the Google store for USD 299, or most Third Party Retailers.
When it comes to Smart Speakers, more and more options are being released every month. Over a couple of years, they have gone from non-existent to a must-have product. Hopefully, I have listed a few products that can help you decide what exactly you are looking for.
What is the best Smart Speaker? It depends on how you plan to use it and what is your budget. If you want the Best Sounding Smart Speaker, the Amazon Echo Studio will fill a room with quality sound. If you want the Best Sound Bar Smart Speaker to upgrade your existing Home Theater, the Yamaha YAS-209 will not disappoint. Not sure what to get your father in law that’s into technology, get him the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 3. Want someone to read recipes out loud while you cook? Google Nest Hub Max has your back.
As always, Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, comment below and let me know