Feeling down during lockdowns? Remove your earphones, put on your best playlist, and get your jive on. Nothing gets you in the groove like your favorite beats emanating through some awesome speakers.
But do you know which smart speakers to get for the season? Whether you are looking for something feature-rich, a basic one that just gets the job done, or the best of both worlds, there are many to choose from. We checked with Louder Sound to find out which are the hottest smart speaker picks for 2020 that are worth the buck! Below are our top 5:
1. Amazon Echo Studio
Louder Sound dubbed the Amazon Echo Studio the best smart speaker on the market right now. This is not surprising as the powerhouse speaker offers superior sound quality with its five built-in speakers and an AI assistant (Alexa) that keeps getting smarter with each use. The 8.11” x 6.9” speaker features three 2-inch mid-range speakers, a 1-inch tweeter, and a 5.25-inch woofer, as well as support for Dolby Atmos and music mastered in immersive 3D.
The Amazon Echo Studio, which facilitates Bluetooth connectivity to various other Bluetooth devices, is in a class of its own. It can easily become the smart home sound hub as it can adapt its audio output to the room it finds itself in, bringing a new level to speaker portability and quality.
2. Google Nest Hub Max
The Google-designed Nest Hub Max is considered to be the best smart speaker that features the Google Assistant. While the speaker’s sound output quality is not deemed to be the best, it can be an awesome smart home sound hub like the Amazon Echo Studio. Users can control various smart devices in their home with their voice as well as directly from the Google Nest Hub Max's dashboard.
The speaker also makes full use of its 10-inch display screen, allowing users to stream movies, view videos, catch weather forecasts and news bulletins, music playlists, and more (except for the features that Google Assistant performs with audio-only). The 1,280 x 800 pixel screen can also display audio and videocast from a smartphone using the Chromecast protocol and doubles up as a Nest camera for remote access to your home via smartphone. This 9.8” x 7.2” speaker features two 0.7-inch 10W tweeters, one 3-inch 30W woofer, and has a face-recognition feature. This home hub is suitable for any busy smart home.
3. Google Home Max
Unlike the Nest Hub Max, this smart speaker is praised for its outstanding quality. According to Louder Sound, the Google Max Home offers the best sound fidelity of all the speakers with Google Assistant on board. Launched in 2017, the speaker offers WiFi, Bluetooth, and Line-in connectivity to all types of smart devices, making it super convenient. The numerous AI updates make it a super-smart Google Assistant. Through its AI, the speaker can fill a room and adjust to its acoustics on its own among other things. A major downside to this portable smart speaker is its bulky size. It measures 13.2” x 7.4” and features two 4.5-inch high-excursion dual voice-coil woofers and two 0.7-inch custom tweeters.
4. Amazon Echo Plus
This smart speaker is considered to be a good all-rounder. Louder Sound says that it is not only reasonably priced but also features the super-talented Alexa assistant and doubles as a smart home hub. Unlike the regular (first gen) Amazon Echo Dot, this boasts the popular Zigbee protocol, along with Alexa, allowing easy setup and control of compatible smart home devices. The Echo Plus is the same great sound as the Echo (3rd Gen) and controls various smart home devices through Alexa and the power of your voice commands over Wi-Fi, like any other Echo Dot.
5. Apple HomePod
If you’re a big fan of Apple devices, Louder Sound dubbed this smart speaker the best option for you. The smart speaker can act as a home hub and has superior and intelligent sound quality. However, as with all other Apple gadgets, it is solely compatible with Apple hardware and software. So, if you’re going to be using Windows or Android devices, you might want to rethink this option before going for the plunge.
Despite the sleek design and top-notch sound quality of the Apple HomePod, Apple’s built-in AI, Siri, has a lot of catching up to do compared to the Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Using voice command, the only native music service that is compatible with Siri on this device is Apple music. While you still have the option to stream music from your other favorite music services using the Apple-exclusive AirPlay software, it’s just not the same. Needless to say, if you’re not fussy, the sound quality can likely make up for this discrepancy.
If you are looking for a great sound companion for the holidays, whether for your own home or a friend, one of the smart speakers above may be your best bet. Be sure to check that any device you choose is compatible with your personal needs and other smart devices you might have.