Smart speakers are among the best selling electronic products in many online stores today. People like their versatility. You can carry them around if you so wish. Not all smart speakers are portable and this may be a decisive factor on which smart speaker to choose. This may be the reason why some makers such as Amazon and Google made minis of their previous versions. We are moving from dumb speakers that wait from another input to come to life. They do more than the sweet sound of music to your ears. In this era of IoT (internet of things), smart speakers easily find a space in your living room. Some are portable that you can carry and stream your music as you relax in your bathroom.
Smart speakers of 2020 are defined by one thing: Artificial Intellignce (AI). Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri fit easily in the description of the best selling smart speakers in the market. They play music contained in the library of close to 50,000 songs (depending on your subscription), control lights, work as reminders, read news, weather reports and much more. They learn from your commands.
So, what are the best selling smart speakers of 2020? And why are they popular? Our review brings you the best that the market has to offer and why they are preferred by customers.
This is Amazon’s voice-controlled smart speaker is in its third iteration. It is a smart assistant whose price is a little bit lower compared to its predecessor, Amazon Echo Plus. Its most notable feature is its hands-free control for basic voice commands for basic and even complex tasks. Tell it to switch off lights at night, and it does just that.
Its low price came with some compromises. Hub and temperature sensor have been stripped off. If these are important for your needs, then might pick it up though it costs a little bit more.
There is little difference with the previous generation, Amazon Echo. Its dimensions are 5.8 by 3.9 inch of cylindrical shape. Amazon Echo is available in black, light gray, dark gray and blue.
You also access controls from the top with functions of Alexa, muting microphone, turning down up and down button. There is also a microphone tucked inside visible six pinholes. Your voice commands will be captured through this far-field microphone.
These are set voice commands that Amazon Echo can solve. These include functions such as playing music, reading news, setting alarms, checking the weather and controlling other compatible home devices.
Amazon Echo is a brilliant improvement to the 2nd generation despite notable strip of some features. And there are mishaps in its functionality too that can be noted but those are especially on voice command. The main ones include a collection of volumes of data in voice commands it is not properly set up, strictness in voice commands and poor parental controls. As voice recognition improves, it may get responsive but there are other functions where the Amazon Echo Dots. There is also Amazon Dot Pro that you may go for if the differences make more sense to you.
If there is a defining reason to purchase the Sonos One, it is its quality of sound. This also has an inbuilt Amazon Alexa. It is very easy to set up and can be controlled with an app, Apple AirPlay 2 in addition to your voice.
You can expect to listen to your favourite podcasts, catch up with the latest news or get informed about the weather. Sonos One is designed to easily fit in any room and for that reason, if you have several of such devices, you can control them using one of them. And like the Echo Dot, the Sonos One can also be paired with another and produced a stunning stereo quality sound.
This is a smart speaker that no one is complaining of its design or sound quality. They are top-notch and you need to be patient to set it up and connect with other devices. They can make your room cosy but keep note of the price compared to alternatives such as Amazon Dot.
If you hated the strictness of Amazon’s Alexa in Echo Dot, you could try Google Mini Nest. It has been recognised as the best for personalized assistance. You can command it using your voice and it will respond with subtle customizations.
It is the smallest speakers but one with the poorest sound.
Google added some features and made it one of the most affordable smart speakers around. Google first produced their Google Home speaker in 2016 and it was sold for $100. Google Mini followed a year later and now, Google Home Nest that retails at $49.
Small but quite powerful, the 2nd generation makes it to the list of the most admired speakers in the market today. It is the best value considering similar products like Apple HomePod that sells for $299 or Amazon Echo Studio that is marked at $200.
You will not be mistaken if you do not see any difference in design from the first generation.
The Nest Mini has added an additional microphone in this generation as an improvement from its predecessor. This far-field detection seems to work even better
In the category for smart home controls, this second generation of Amazon Echo has a built-in hub that makes it easier for connection of other peripherals such as ZigBee speakers. The hub is adequate on its own and no additional hubs are needed.
However, the company failed to state that not devices are compatible with this. It does not support Z-wave. It is frustrating when this is not mentioned by the company if you intended to link up the two.
The company also insists of several layers of security but not many users take the pain to activate them. Some of the obvious and painless processes include turning options of turning off microphones. There is a Microphone Off button that disconnects all speakers. If you are concerned about your privacy, consider deleting your stored voice recordings.
With this device, you can connect to your TV and achieve 2.1 sound quality. But you can do that using Bluetooth. It cannot connect any other speakers o different kind, not even their own, the humble little Echos (the 3rd Gen). And when it does, the stereo does not work for everything else. Some would say this depends on the radio station you are tuned in. Bluetooth works with one speaker. If you have an additional echo, you may notice the sound being out of sync by some seconds, 10 would not be acceptable to some users.
Sound quality is amazing. It is a smart speaker. You didn’t buy this for other secondary functions. It has an equaliser built-into Alexa, which is readily customisable to your preferences. There are three sliders at your disposal to enrich and customise your overall sound experience.
Being an Amazon product, it supports Alexa, which is a cloud-based service that works with other commands, some that can be customised to your liking. It is not perfect and has some shortcomings. The review for this has been done here in this post. Note that the functionality of Alexa will depend on your location and whether you have installed the app on your phone. To call or message using Alexa on this speaker, you will need to install it on your phone. The good thing is that it is supported on Android, iOS and Desktop.
One major problem that we noted with some 20 customers is Alexa’s voice commands failing to respond audibly after some time. It is an issue that the company, for some reason has not addressed. It could be an isolated case but more attention to this issue may be needed. Perhaps, future updates on Alexa may solve the issue, considering that this is one thing that separates it from other “dumb” speakers.
This has the best sound overall and as you would expect, it is the priciest in the list, followed by Sonos One.
Apple products need little introduction, especially after wildly innovative and successful products such as iPhone, iPods, iPad, Macs etc. It has a knack of going an extra mile to make their products seductively attractive. Not all their products have been equally successful but that a story of another day.
For $349, you get rich bass and consistent audio quality, regardless of which music genre you feed it. Cnet rated this product at 7.9
So, why should or shouldn’t you get this product?
The list is by no means exhaustive. There are many other smart speakers that you could pick and serve you quite well.
Some of the honourable mentions include the following:
If smart speakers do not work for you, you could try other top-grossing Bluetooth speakers for 2020.
So, which is your favourite smart speaker? Drop your views below and let me know your experience on above or any other speakers you have used before.