Best Smart Speaker in 2020: The Definitive Guide (comparison)
In this guide to the best smart speaker in 2020, we will see briefly what a smart or clever speaker speaker and what is. Subsequently, we will analyze how to choose the best for your needs.
Finally, we will see one by one the best deals on the market. Use the table of contents below to go directly to the review of the best intelligent speakers.
Smart speaker: a real boom
Smart speaker, intelligent or Italian speakers, are now on everyone’s lips. Fellow indispensable in American homes, these gadgets have rapidly crossed the ocean to establish itself increasingly also in Europe and other countries.
According to Canalys report, the overall market grew by 44% in the third quarter of 2019, and later this year will be about 200 million units in homes. World Player, in sales order, are Amazon (with its line Echo), Alibaba, Baidu, Google (with Google online Home, now renamed Nest) and Xiaomi.
undisputed pioneer of this promising market is Amazon, which in November 2014, launched in the US its first Amazon Echo, ushering Alexa, one of the best known voices from the American users.
Two years later, Google is passed to the counter, and since then a number of brands and companies, such as Apple and Sonos, has begun to market its smart speaker, helping to diversify the market.
In Italy, the market is in full development.
Opened in March 2018 by Google, with its Google Home Home and Google Mini, then joined the Nest online. Since then, it is smart mania speaker.
In fact, back in October of 2018 has landed in our country even Amazon Echo, Alexa together with other devices, even with the display (so-called smart display). And more and more brands are launching their own proposal (which often integrates voice assistants Amazon or Google).
What a smart or clever speaker speaker
It is an intelligent speaker that, not only is equipped with Wifi, and then connected, but integrates in its interior an artificial intelligence, in the form of voice assistant.
The voice assistant software is the heart of this device and it is thanks to this that the smart speaker can be controlled by voice.
So we are a speaker that simply streams music.
But a high-tech gadget that is able to hear us, understand us and respond accordingly, performing for us certain actions, which may also require interaction with other third-party devices.
Difference smart speaker and voice assistant
So, when we talk about smart speaker and voice assistant, talking about two different things.
The speaker is the body, equipped with audio equipment and microphones to listen.
The voice assistant is the mind, cloud-based, updates automatically on a regular basis (for example, adding new features, new vocabulary, etc.).
And that’s what our processes voice commands and responds to these.
This can be integrated into other devices like phones, tablets, PCs and TV (think Google Assistant of our Android smartphone or Siri our iPhone).
Logos Alexa and Google Assistant
Similarly, as mentioned above, it can also be integrated into other speakers and devices manufactured by companies other than those of the same voice assistant.
What is a smart speaker and how it works
So why buy a smart speaker and what is it really?
The features are interesting and ever-changing.
Of course, it also depends on what product you purchase. So choose the best smart speaker to meet your needs is essential.
No doubt, though some offer more features than others, all have some common characteristics.
The most substantial difference between the various products resides in the manner in which the activities are carried out, their ecosystem (with such platforms and devices are able to interact), their ability to understand each other and on meeting the overall performance of our requests.
To activate the speaker smart enough to wake him, saying the voice server keyword (wake-up word) and our request ( “Alexa, I need the umbrella today?” Or “OK, Google, when Bob Marley died ? “).
At this point, we have to wait for the response of our digital assistant and the subsequent reaction. For Alexa, some requests will require the activation of dedicated skill.
Functionality and Voice Commands intelligent speaker
You can check your smart vocally speaker for:
Smart speaker and smart home: home automation within reach of all
A separate paragraph deserves the most interesting feature of all, and the main reason why these devices represent a revolutionary and versatile object.
The smart speaker becomes an essential tool to control all connected devices vocally (and compatible) of our house. Then you just obtain these to build a real home automation DIY system, operated via voice.
Using products that are compatible with the voice assistant chosen, you can then:
Best smart speaker: how and which one to choose
To choose the best speaker smart or smart display, or rather, one that best suits your needs, you will need to consider:
Best speaker smart (and smart display)
Here is a list of the best speaker smart / intelligent speaker of the moment, including those with screen and smart display:
Objectively, it is impossible to establish the best smart speaker.
If some win some aspects, others are ideal in other respects (for music or for the smart home).
In addition, as we have just seen, the choice is very personal and guided by their own situation and priorities. Finally, we must consider that it is a dynamic market and, in no time at all, many will be the player and proposals. We analyze the proposals of the moment.
How not to start a list of the best smart speaker with jewel weblog Google. First smart speaker of the Italian market, there is increasing interest. Integrated with Google Voice Assistant assistant is able to perform all the tasks described above (named actions).
Obviously, it will interact more efficiently with its ecosystem and its products / services (Youtube, Chromecasts and so on). Featuring elegant but minimal fits any decor, reminding a nice and paunchy aroma diffuser.
It equipped with a speaker-excursion drivers with flanked by two passive radiators, provides a round sound and engaging, with discrete low. It will not be an exceptional choice for audiophiles but is just fine for casual listening to music.
However, thanks to Bluetooth technology, you can connect Google Home to more powerful speaker. Not yet available in Italy, a good solution for music lovers is Google Home Max. Similarly, those who want a smart display and then a visual aid, may consider Google Home Hub. But we have to wait for the Italian version.
As for the voice assistant, Google Home has the strength of a natural and fluent conversation, an advanced understanding and exemplary background in company in the online research industry. His answers draw from a broad and diverse number of sources. Google Assistant will always have a ready answer for us, more than Alexa (read more about the differences between the two screen readers here)
Lately, many have updates on which the company is working. Compatibility with smart devices in Italy is still limited compared to the English-speaking market, but growing and, in any case, already allows you to control various aspects of the house. In the US, Google Home, from this point of view, it is easily surpassed by Amazon Echo.
Google Mini Nest is definitely one of the best smart low-end speakers. This is the mini roundabout and Google version of Home, with a price, size and audio equipment obviously reduced. A good compromise for those who want all the benefits of a smart speaker without spending too much.
Or it lends itself as an integration of the same Google Home (to be used perhaps in other rooms). The Nest Mini features relying on Google Assistant, will be exactly the same. The sound, however, is the part that is affected. Being so small and equipped with a 40mm driver, it is a suitable speaker for music, yes, but unpretentious.
Google Nest Hub
Google Nest Hub is the smart display of the Mountain View giant, created next to big brother Google Nest Hub Max (the latter with a video camera but not yet present in Italy). It is a smart speaker, integrated with Google Assistant, equipped with a 7 “screen and very attractive design. Obviously the presence of the screen offers, alongside the traditional features of Google Assistant, many other features.
First of all, Home View. It is an integrated interface from which it is possible to control, via the touch display, the entire ecosystem of connected devices. From this hub the name, which is the center: Nest Hub you want to lay in the middle of the house and facilitate control of it, especially in the case of multiple users. Second, integration with Google Photo making it a smart digital photo frame in effect. The display is also able to automatically adjust the brightness according to the light in the room in which it resides.
Of course, the chance to see various streaming content (Youtube, video recipes and, soon, even Netflix) is one of the most popular features. Finally, receiving visual feedback and enhanced information from the server, it is another significant pro. Therefore, an excellent companion, both in the bedroom and in the kitchen. Pity about the lack of camcorder that limits the video content but who cares about privacy.
We can not fail to mention Amazon Echo (3rd generation) among the best smart speaker. The gadget, owner of the giant Jeff Bezos, is integrated with voice-prompted Amazon Alexa. First smart speaker in the global market in 2014, has earned an undisputed reputation, improving from year to year. Just this longevity is what affects his trump card. The number of partnerships with brand and third-party services, so the Alexa compatibility with these. And, accordingly, the number of features (the so-called skill) and the overall versatility of the product. Even Alexa, better interact with its ecosystem (shopping at Amazon, Amazon Music, Prime Video, etc.).
The features, like Google Home, are still limited in Italy, as compared to those overseas. But, learning from the experience Anglophone own, grow more and more, making the voice assistant Alexa designed specifically for the smart home. Although the challenge remains more open than Google Home.
From elongated and cylindrical in shape, even Amazon Echo looks like a gadget from the modern design and unobtrusive. The audio equipment consists of a 76.2 mm woofer and 20 mm tweeter with Dolby system that allows a 360 ° sound. The audio quality is good, especially considering the price. Not audiophile, though.
However, you can connect other speakers via bluetooth or via AUX cable, using the appropriate output jack 3.5mm. Noteworthy are his six microphones with voice recognition long range that allow the speaker to hear at a distance and with music playing.
Unfortunately, the ability to listen not always translates into that to understand us efficiently. One of the weaknesses of Alexa is the lack of naturalness of the conversation.
It often requires the use of certain phrases and expressions so that we understand, which can make communication difficult at first, but the more you use the smart speaker, the more it becomes smooth and immediate. Another strength that Amazon Echo is one of the best smart speaker to consider is the quality / price ratio.
Amazon Echo Dot
Even Amazon Echo has its own line of products, designed to meet different needs. Its range is in fact the largest. These Amazon Echo Dot, one of the best smart mini speaker market. It is a smaller version of Echo. It seems, in fact, an Amazon Echo truncated at the base. A great economic point of access to the world of Alexa and natural extension of Amazon Echo for multiroom.
The functionality will be the same but the latter, of course, with improved audio that falls dramatically if you turn up the volume (only has a 15.2-mm driver). If you intend to listen to music in a “serious”, you will need to connect it absolutely other speaker via Bluetooth or cable.
Interesting version with clock (which costs about ten euro more) that has an LED panel that shows the time and interacts with timer (countdown on the panel, as in Echo Wall Clock).
Amazon Echo Flex: the cheapest smart speaker
Those who want an even smaller device Dot Echo, Echo can consider Flex, the most flexible of the line. In fact, it comes to an intelligent speaker (with Alexa, of course) in the shape of socket which is placed directly on the wall, without the troublesome use of cables.
Given the very small size, it is not suitable for listening music (even if it is capable of playing music) and is ideal as an extension of Echo in multiple rooms. The real peculiarity is the possibility of integrating, via USB, compatible with third-party accessories such as a motion sensor or a night light. Very useful in the bathroom or hallway.
Amazon Echo More
Among the speakers of the most interesting Echo family, we find the Echo Plus. This is the smart speaker of choice for the smart home, as with Zigbee home automation hub. This means that you can control the Zigbee devices without the need to buy additional hubs (for example, for Philips Hue lights, you will not need OF THE SPECIAL bridge Hue). Convenient also the integrated temperature sensor, able to detect the temperature of the room.
Like the rest of the Echo family, the design is minimalist and elegant, compact size, and Alexa features are almost identical. In terms of audio, the woofer 73mm and 20mm tweeters offer a balanced, accurate sound, the same Echo third generation. Obviously we are facing a higher price than previous models, given the presence of the hub.
Amazon Echo Studio: Alexa smart speaker for music
If the presence hub Zigbee teases you and are willing to higher spending, the board is to consider Amazon Echo Studio, one of the best smart speaker for music. In fact, next to the Zigbee connectivity, one of its strengths is the audio equipment and the design meant to optimize the sound.
In fact, on the lower part presents a dedicated hole in order to maximize the bass (which are very deep) and also the upper part is the “discovery” to leave via free up-firing speaker (s physical buttons are present on a circle to place ‘ end of the case).
Echo Studio presents 3 midrange speakers 51mm, two at the sides and one in a central position facing upwards, a tweeter and a woofer 25mm by 133mm. It also supports Dolby Atmos (useful if you intend to use it as a home theater with Fire TV Stick) and 3D sound. The audio is of excellent quality, although not to the levels of the proposals of the specialized brand in the industry.
Overall, a complete intelligent speaker and the excellent quality / price ratio.
Amazon Echo Show: migliore smart display
The best smart display of the moment, and probably the best speaker of the smart Echo line is Amazon Echo Show. It is a speaker Alexa, halfway between tablet and digital photo frame, equipped with a 10 “display (resolution 1280 × 800 pixels) and a Zigbee home automation hub. Therefore, a truly complete speaker. The screen allows you to take advantage of extra features, including watching videos, make video calls between Echo or via Skype (there is a built-in camera) to control the real-time shooting and video cameras connected.
Convenient browser presence (you can choose between Firefox and Amazon Silk), which also allows to use (though not with the voice) of Youtube. The audio quality is very good: its two 2 “neodymium drivers and passive radiator with Dolby processors provide a powerful and balanced performance. Like his other brothers, supports multiroom and has a pretty good hearing.
Being one of the most comprehensive smart speaker, the price ballooned significantly.
Amazon Echo Show 5: The cheapest smart display
If you want a smart display, thus an intelligent speaker with screen, but you have a small budget, the solution is Echo Show 5. It is, in fact, a mini version of Echo Show, with a smaller screen (5 inches instead of 10) and without Zigbee hub.
The features are the same as the Show even if, given the smaller size, the audio quality is less satisfactory (a 1.65 “driver only) and the use of video is limited to short-term content.
Interesting are the functionalities dedicated to the alarms and the presence of a cover-camera that, in addition to the deactivation of the room with a key, physically covers the lens for added privacy.
Amazon Echo Show 8: smart display from the best value for money
If the size of Echo Show 5 and the price of Echo Show does not convince you, 8 Echo Show is a product halfway between the two. Thanks to the good combination of price, size and performance, we can consider the smart display from the best value for money.
With a touch screen 8 “(1280 × 800), it has the same functionality of 5 Show and Show, though not integrated Zigbee hub. As the first, presents a camera 1MP and a cover-physical lens, for greater privacy,
In terms of audio features 2 driver 2 “and a passive radiator with a similar performance to that of 3 Echo and Echo Show. the use of video is quality too (clear, sharp and bright).
Sonos One: smart speaker con Alexa e Google Assistant
Which brings us to another of the best speakers on the market currently. One Sonos is a speaker connection (not Bluetooth) with one of the most famous audio industry brand is synonymous with premium quality.
The speaker incorporates both Amazon and Alexa Google Assistant. Therefore, during the configuration phase, it is possible to choose between the two. The functionality will be the same supported by Amazon and Google Home Echo (with some limitations). Considering that Sonos One is also compatible with Airplay 2, it is a product for all Apple users, Android / Google and Amazon.
One Sonos is a smart version of the already famous Sonos Play 1, with a reasonably higher price of his brother, because of the integration with the voice assistant and presence necessary, 6 microphones with long-haul voice recognition and derecognition of ‘echo.
The Sonos One is designed for music lovers. Because as opposed to Google Home Amazon and Alexa, it arises first as a speaker, then as smart. Thanks to its audio equipment, equipped with 2 class D amplifiers, 1 tweeter and mid-woofer 1, sounds good, without any distortion in the high and an excellent yield. It also boasts the Trueplay technology (available on iOS), through which you can optimize the sound according to the room in which it resides. It also supports the multiroom (more speakers in different rooms) and, more importantly, dozens of music streaming services. With stylish design, it is a great choice for those who want the benefits of a smart speakers, including voice control of smart home devices, not giving up the music.
Home Bose 500 Speaker: best smart speaker for music
Among the best smart speaker on the market, and the major rival of Sonos One, we also find Home Speaker Bose 500, another WiFi device with Amazon Alexa integrated. Being aware of the limitations of most smart speaker, Bose, US-based audio industry leader, just like Sonos, has decided to launch its own speaker to please audiophiles smart home lovers.
Even this speaker provides for the future integration with Google and Apple Airplay Assistant 2; Therefore, the potential is very high. The smart functionality are the same as Echo devices with some limitation (it is not possible, for example, make calls or use the drop-in).
In terms of audio quality, this is definitely one of the best smart speaker in circulation (his direct rival Apple would Homepod, not yet arrived in Italy). With its two 6.35 cm driver oriented in opposite directions, it is able to simulate a stereo sound from right to left.
The yield is clean and free of distortion, even at very high volumes (the power is impressive). Unlike Sonos One, Home Speaker Bose 500 has Bluetooth connectivity and touch 6 preset buttons very comfortable to store their favorite stations or playlists. Unfortunately, however, no similar technologies to Trueplay.
The speaker has an attractive design and a small color display, however, has some very limited functionality. Ideal solution for music lovers who want to enjoy the benefits of Alexa and control the smart home. Unfortunately the price does not seem accessible.
Netgear WiFi Mesh Orbi wizard built with Alexa (Orbi Voice)
We end our review of the best smart speaker of the moment with a product rather special, useful for very specific requirements. Let’s talk about Orbi Voice, or rather Orbi Netgear WiFi Mesh with integrated assistant. As the name is suggesting is a WiFi system Mesh Alexa integrated with Amazon.
This means that alongside the Alexa capabilities, it is also able to extend the coverage and improve the speed of domestic WiFi.
The speaker, in collaboration with the company Harman Kardon, is compatible only with Orbi router and is therefore sold, as well as separately, with a bundle together with a router. Obviously the price is affected but we must consider that it is a device with advanced functionality.
It is a very versatile product, as it offers all the benefits of a smart speaker traditional Alexa but, in fact, is able to improve the WiFi coverage (up to 420mq) and increase the speed of internet access (up to 400Mbps with network 2 , 4 GHz and up to 867 Mbps at 5 GHz network). So, it is the ideal choice for those who want to create a smart home and has many smart devices.
In terms of design, appearance is elegant and refined, made on purpose to be put on display, unlike a router / Traditional mesh. Good audio quality (has 8,89cm front woofer and tweeter 2.54 cm), with deep bass but directional sound, which is still better than Amazon Echo (3rd generation) and Google Home.
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