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It's hard to imagine a smart home setup without a smart speaker — these speakers are the command center for all your connected devices. They let you control multiple devices with a single command or cast old memories from Google Photos to Android TV boxes, so you don't have to fumble with tens of different apps on your phone for a simple task.

But as central as they are for a connected home, your smart speaker choices have exploded, making choosing the right one a bit of a challenge.

It may be easy to pick the "smart" camp you want to be in — Alexa speakers or Google Assistant speakers — yet each speaker comes with its own merits, flaws, and sound quality. Some have a built-in Zigbee hub that you'd otherwise need to buy separately for things like smart lights, and others let you use Alexa and Google Assistant on the same device. From the vast sea of choices, we've gathered the best smart speakers to upgrade your home.

Best value

9.00 / 10

Despite being a little over a year old, the Echo Dot (4th gen) continues to be the best smart speaker for most users. Compared to Google’s counterpart, this little speaker is not only louder but also produces fuller sound, with a larger echo chamber (no pun intended) and deeper bass. Of course, microphones are an essential piece of hardware for smart speakers, and thankfully, they’re pretty sensitive to the Alexa wake word on the Echo Dot. So, you don’t need to raise your voice when something’s playing or you’re across the room. The same goes for the bright ring light; it’s easily visible from afar.

While it’s generally true that Google Assistant is a better overall voice assistant, Alexa has a slight edge in smart home use. Alexa is compatible with far more smart home devices, so if you already have a connected device in your home, chances are that it works with the Echo Dot. And considering how voice assistants practically live in the crowd, you’d get the same capabilities as any pricier Echo speakers — except for their more thumping, room-filling sound, and a built-in Zigbee hub.

Its crystal ball-like design is a big departure from the more subtle look of previous Dots, but it has allowed Amazon to play with the front look. Like for your kids’ room, you can pick the Echo Dot in two fun-looking faces — panda or tiger. You can also get a variant with a digital clock at the front, making it a perfect accessory for your desk. The only quip we have with the Echo Dot is that the design makes it difficult to place a wall, though a few mounts make it possible without much fuss. Also, since the Echo Dot has a forward-firing speaker, you can’t put it in the center of the room, although this won’t be a problem for most buyers.

Specifications
  • Audio: 1.6" front-firing speaker, 4 microphones
  • Power: Wired, 15W barrel adapter
  • Price: Starting at $50
  • Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, Aux out
  • Voice assistant: Alexa
  • Colors: Black, white, blue
  • Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm, 341g
  • Buttons: Touch controls, mute switch
Pros
  • Alexa is quite smart & responsive
  • Aux out (not in)
  • Sound output is good for the price
  • Supports a variety of hardware, including Fire TV
Cons
  • Unwieldy for being wall-mounted
Buy This Product
Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Editors choice

9.50 / 10

Google’s mid-range Nest Audio speaker impressed us with the improvements it brought to the table and a lower starting price than the Home speaker it replaced. In his review, Taylor noted that the new, much beefier woofer-tweeter combo helps the Nest Audio perform well across highs, mids, and lows, with even the smallest details now audible clearly. If you’re a fan of loud, bass-heavy music, the Nest Audio is the way to go, and it completely justifies its premium over the smaller Nest Mini.

You can put two of these Nest Audio speakers together to make a stereo pair for an even more thundering experience and a real stereo separation. Given Google routinely discounts the speaker in its US store, the bundle should be a lot cheaper and a much better bargain than the massive Home Max. While you have the option to connect this stereo setup with your TV wirelessly, the experience over Bluetooth was less than ideal in our experience — though your mileage may vary. Google Assistant makes the Nest Audio smarter, and if you’ve used Assistant on your Android phone, you’ll take no time getting used to the Nest Audio. Backed by Google Search, there will rarely be an occasion when the Assistant isn’t able to answer your questions accurately. And with tight integration with a host of Google devices and services, you can easily use the Nest Audio to connect with your existing Google Cast speakers, Chromecasts, or Android TVs — and yes, you can ask it to play YouTube videos, too, on your TV.

Even after the facelift, the Nest Audio has retained a simple fabric design that you can customize in a handful of fun pastel colors to match your room’s decor. Google could’ve made the package even more pleasing by throwing in a wired connection to stream audio to and from this Nest speaker. Despite its foibles, the Nest Audio is a significant upgrade over the previous Home and is the right candidate for a replacement or an upgrade from the Home/Nest Mini.

Specifications
  • Audio: 75mm woofer, 19mm tweeter, 3 far-field microphone array
  • Power: 30W DC barrel adapter, 1.5m cable
  • Price: $100
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
  • Voice Assistant: Google Assistant
  • Colors: Grey, black, green, blue, orange
  • Measurements: 175 x 124 x 78mm, 1.2Kg
  • Buttons: Touch controls, mute switch
  • Others: Chromecast built-in
Pros
  • Sounds incredible
  • Microphone sensitivity has improved
  • Google Assistant works like a charm
  • Reasonable price
  • Integrates well with the Google ecosystem
Cons
  • No aux in/out port
  • Noticeable audio lag over Bluetooth in stereo pair
Buy This Product
Google Nest Audio
Premium pick

9.00 / 10

Sonos speakers have made a name for themselves in the premium audio space, and the Sonos Move lives right up to that reputation. The speaker produces audio comparable to the Apple HomePod — maybe even a notch higher in both quality and volume. And being a Sonos, the Move is made to work with your existing Sonos set up at your home, with all the benefits including multi-room and multi-device pairing. The Move is also among the first Sonos speakers to support automatic TruePlay, which means you don’t need an iPhone anymore to let the speaker set the EQ accordingly.

With Sonos’ range of smart speakers, you have the option to choose between Google Assistant or Alexa on the same hardware, allowing you to scream at whichever voice bot you prefer. The Move doesn’t let you use both assistants simultaneously, but just the option to pick either one of the ecosystems is incredible, and it isn’t anyway too difficult to switch between the two in the companion app. You should, however, note that some Alexa features like drop-in and calls are exclusive to Echo speakers and aren’t available here.

While these connected features need Wi-Fi all the time, you can easily use the Move as a simple Bluetooth speaker without any degradation in the audio quality, though you’ll lose access to many of the smart features in the Bluetooth mode.

As its name suggests, the Sonos Move is a portable speaker rated to last for about 10 hours on battery power. While the Move isn’t the lightest speaker that you’d want to carry around often, it’s nevertheless good to have the option for occasions when you want to bring the party alive. It’s got a dock and USB-C port for charging, but the best part is that the battery is user-accessible, letting you replace the battery when it dies after a few years of use.

Specifications
  • Audio: 1 downward-firing tweeter, 2 digital amplifiers, 1 midwoofer, multi-mic array
  • Power: 36Wh battery, 10-hour life, charging base included, USB-C PD
  • Price: $400
  • Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, USB-C
  • Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Colors: Black, white
  • Dimensions: 240 x 160 x 126mm, 3Kg
  • Buttons: Touch controls, mute switch
  • Others: IP56, AirPlay 2, Automatic Trueplay
Pros
  • Water resistant
  • User-replaceable battery
  • Superb audio, can easily fill a large room
  • Integrates with other Sonos speakers
  • Works with Alexa or Assistant
Cons
  • Hefty for a portable speaker
  • Pricey
Buy This Product
Sonos Move

9.00 / 10

Google’s tiniest smart speaker — the Nest Mini — looks very similar to its predecessor, but don’t let the looks fool you. The Nest Mini has updated guts over the Home Mini, bringing much-improved audio quality and a bit more volume. The bass is much punchier this time around, and the overall sound can easily fill the room. And like it’s with the Nest Audio, you can pair two Minis to make a stereo duo or multi-room streaming.

The Nest Mini gets the same top-notch smarts as the Nest Audio, so it can answer pretty much any random question you can throw at it or control your smart home devices with just a single command. Coming from the house of Google, the Mini, of course, works with Chromecasts (and other Home and Nest devices), and you’re going to love it if you often find yourself casting YouTube videos to a big screen.

It’s the cheapest way to get into Google’s smart home ecosystem or even expand your existing setup of connected devices with a handful of these Minis spread across your house. Another good thing here is that the built-in notch lets you hang the speaker anywhere without the need for any additional wall mounts.

Specifications
  • Audio: Top-firing speaker, 3 microphones
  • Power: 15W barrel adapter
  • Price: $50
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
  • Voice Assistant: Google Assistant
  • Colors: Grey, black, red, blue
  • Measurements: 98 x 42mm, 177g
  • Buttons: Touch controls, mute switch
  • Others: Chromecast built-in
Pros
  • Built-in wall mount
  • Excellent integration with YouTube and other Google services
  • Google Assistant is outstanding
  • It’s cheap
Cons
  • No Aux or USB port
  • Touch controls can be tricky
Buy This Product
Google Nest Mini

8.50 / 10

Bose is a legendary high-end audio home audio products maker that tried its hands with smart speakers only a few years back. The most recent Bose Portable Smart Speaker may not look as big as the Sonos Move, but this compact lantern-shaped speaker packs plenty of power on the inside. It comes with the characteristic warm Bose sound, with ample clarity across ranges, and you can hear every beat since the bass doesn't get too overwhelming. While the bass should be adequate for most music listeners, it could disappoint those who prefer a booming sound.

Bose has gone for a bottom-firing speaker that directs the audio in all directions, making it the perfect portable speaker to be kept in the center of the room or backyard party. The speaker weighs just 2.3 pounds, so it's pretty easy to carry around. And that nice grab handle is a constant reminder that the speaker is meant to be used on the go. The Bose Portable Smart Speaker does support Alexa and Google Assistant as well as AirPlay 2 and Google Cast for a more cohesive cross-platform experience.

Specifications
  • Audio: Downward-firing speaker, 3 passive radiators, multi-mic array
  • Power: Battery-powered, 12-hour life, USB-C charging
  • Price: $360
  • Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Colors: Silver, black
  • Dimensions: 191.5 x 119.1 x 103.9 mm, 1.06Kg
  • Buttons: Tactile buttons, mute switch
  • Others: IPX4, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in
Pros
  • Chic grab handle
  • Splash resistance
  • USB-C charging
  • Brilliant sound quality
  • 12-hour battery life
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Could’ve been louder
Buy This Product
Bose Portable Smart Speaker

8.50 / 10

The standard Echo speaker doesn't cut if you want something that really drowns out every other sound around you. Enter the Echo Studio — Amazon's largest Echo speaker that goes up against the Apple HomePod at a more sensible price. It's a massive piece of hardware, so it's not suitable for nightstands and might even be overkill for your kitchen. But bring it to a bigger room or hook it to your TV and hear it roar!

It's got five drivers positioned all around that shell to give you better directional audio output. While Amazon's 3D audio may be nothing more than a gimmick realistically, you can pair the Studio with a compatible Fire TV device for a wholesome Dolby Atmos experience.

As you'd expect, Alexa also brings all its smarts and capabilities to the Studio. Besides that, the Studio comes with a Zigbee hub built-in, letting you set up smart home devices without the need for a separate hub, making the deal even sweeter. Many pricier options from Bose, Sonos, and Apple sound better, but there's nothing that can beat the Studio at its price.

Specifications
  • Audio: 3 midrange speakers, 1 tweeter, 1 woofer, 7 microphones
  • Power: AC power adapter
  • Price: $200
  • Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, microUSB, 3.5mm audio in
  • Voice assistant: Alexa
  • Colors: Black
  • Dimensions: 206 x 175mm, 3.5Kg
  • Buttons: Tactile buttons, mute switch
Pros
  • It’s loud and full-sounding
  • Alexa here is as good as ever
  • Dolby Atmos support
  • Built-in Zigbee hub
  • Great value
Cons
  • Sound quality isn’t particularly ‘premium’
  • It’s massive!
Buy This Product
Amazon Echo Studio

8.50 / 10

If you prefer that characteristic Bose sound profile but don’t necessarily need a portable smart speaker, the Bose Home Speaker 500 will perfectly fit your bill. As its name suggests, it’s a wired speaker meant to sit inside your home (which means no water resistance, unfortunately). The speaker uses two drivers to produce 360-degree audio with a spacious soundstage, and it could easily be the life of your home parties.

To interact with the speaker, you can call either Alexa or Google Assistant, as this Bose speaker works with both. Thanks to top-notch far-field microphones, the Home Speaker 500 can pick your commands even when you’re far away or in a noisy environment. And that color screen on the front, which displays the time or the album art, makes it easy to just glance at the music the speaker is playing.

While there are touch controls on the top of the speaker, you can also use Bose’s companion app that lets you adjust bass and treble, group speakers together (stereo pairing isn’t possible, though), and change other device settings. The Bose Home Speaker 500 is definitely on the higher side of the price spectrum, but its sound quality makes it worth the money spent.

Specifications
  • Audio: Forward and backward-firing drivers, multi-mic array
  • Power: AC power adapter, 1.5m cable
  • Price: $380
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5mm audio in
  • Voice Assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Colors: Silver, black
  • Measurements: 203 x 170 x 109 mm, 2.15Kg
  • Buttons: Touch controls, mute switch
  • Others: AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in
Pros
  • Top-notch sound quality and sufficiently loud
  • Doesn’t take a lot of space
  • Excellent far-field microphones
  • The front display lets you glance at album arts and time
Cons
  • Doesn’t come cheap
  • Bass could’ve been better
Buy This Product
Bose Home Speaker 500

8.00 / 10

The Swiss Army Knife among smart speakers — the Belkin SoundForm Elite — is among the most versatile smart speakers that you’d want to keep on your nightstand. The top portion of the Belkin speaker doubles up as a wireless charger for your phone, with an output of up to 10W. It isn’t a crazy fast speed, but it’s adequate for overnight recharges and something that most smartphones are compatible with.

Even with this additional feature, the sound quality itself doesn’t take a back seat. The SoundForm Elite isn’t a particularly large speaker, but it produces deep low-ends, which the bass heads are going to appreciate quite a bit. However, the mid-range suffers slightly due to that extra bass-heavy sound.

Belkin offers two different SKUs – one with Alexa + AirPlay at Amazon and another with just Google Assistant at Best Buy. It would’ve been much more sensible if both voice assistants were offered on the same device, like many Sonos speakers, but unfortunately, you’ll have to pick one of the ecosystems while making the purchase.

Specifications
  • Audio: 1 full-range driver, 2 woofers, 2 far-field microphones
  • Power: AC barrel adapter
  • Price: $299
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
  • Voice Assistant: Alexa/Google Assistant
  • Colors: Black, white
  • Measurements: 168.4 x 162.5 x 162.5mm, 1.27Kg
  • Buttons: Touch controls, mute switch
  • Others: Up to 10W Qi wireless charging (for phones), Chromecast built-in
Pros
  • Built-in 10W wireless charger
  • Gets plenty loud and the audio output is good
  • AirPlay 2 (on one variant)
  • Doesn’t take a lot of space
Cons
  • Different variants for Google Assistant and Alexa
  • Doesn’t come cheap
Buy This Product
Belkin SoundForm Elite

9.00 / 10

The Sonos Roam is a typical compact Bluetooth speaker that you can carry around in your backpack and get the smarts of Google Assistant or Alexa just about anywhere you can hook it to a Wi-Fi hotspot. For the premium price Sonos is asking, you'd expect the Roam to sound pretty darn good, and, boy, it delivers. In our review, we found it to be the best-sounding portable speaker in its class. Period. Its superior audio output is achieved by a separate woofer and tweeter, which you don’t generally see on such mini speakers.

While you get all the smart features of Google Assistant, Alexa, and the compatibility with AirPlay 2 (no Chromecast here, unfortunately), it’s all the other convenience features that make the Roam an excellent pick. Besides a USB-C port for charging (a cable and a charger come bundled in the box), it also supports wireless charging, so you simply place it on any Qi charger and have the music playing all day long. The Roam is also beach-ready with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.

Specifications
  • Audio: 2 amplifiers, 1 tweeter, 1 midwoofer, multi-mic array
  • Power: 18Wh battery, 10-hour life, Qi wireless and 15W USB-C charging
  • Price: $180
  • Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Colors: Black, white
  • Dimensions: 168 x 62 x 60mm, 430g
  • Buttons: Tactile buttons, mute switch
  • Others: IP67, Automatic TruePlay, AirPlay 2
Pros
  • Superb sound for its size
  • Supports a variety of connectivity options
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Wireless charging
Cons
  • Lacks Google Cast
  • Pricey for a compact portable speaker
Buy This Product
Sonos Roam

7.50 / 10

For anyone exclusively using Apple devices, getting the HomePod Mini makes more sense than picking an Alexa speaker. It’s designed to give you a superior, seamless experience when tied with other Apple services and devices. For instance, you can use two Minis as a stereo pair for your Apple TV or use Handoff to move audio between your iPhone and the HomePod with a simple tap.

The Mini looks sleek with its fabric shell and a glowing touch panel at the top. It produces an excellent sound for its size, comparable to many bigger speakers, and since the driver is facing downward, the audio is spread across the room. However, at $99, speakers from other brands will sound fuller and fill a larger room. Apple is currently offering a complimentary 6-month subscription to Apple Music, making the deal sweeter if you’re going to (or already do) subscribe to the service.

Speaking of Siri, it’s fast and responsive on this speaker. It has come a long way in the last few years, but most of its capabilities still lie within the Apple ecosystem. Outside that, there aren’t a lot of smart home devices that support HomeKit, limiting the choices you have with third-party devices. Alexa and Google Assistant fare much better in this department.

Specifications
  • Audio: 1 full-range driver, 2 passive radiators, 4 microphones
  • Power: 20W adapter
  • Price: $100
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
  • Voice Assistant: Siri
  • Colors: White, black, orange, yellow, blue
  • Measurements: 84.3 x 97.9mm, 345g
  • Buttons: Touch panel, no mute switch
Pros
  • Excellent sound for the size
  • It just works — with Apple devices, that is
  • Relatively more affordable than the standard HomePod
Cons
  • Not a lot of HomeKit-supported devices
  • Siri’s still playing catch up
Buy This Product
Apple HomePod Mini

8.00 / 10

Compact smart speakers are carved for a personal music listening experience. You can carry the second-gen Beosound A1 with you to the beach or even shower, and you will be amazed by the sound coming out of this little puck. And don't worry about the speaker getting damaged by the elements; it's dust and water resistant with an IP67 rating.

The Beosound A1 has Alexa built right in to take your commands, but the speaker relies on a slightly unconventional way to stay connected to the internet. Since the speaker lacks Wi-Fi, it uses your phone's network connection to route your Alexa requests and must remain hooked to your phone via Bluetooth. But once you're past that pairing process, the Beosound A1 works flawlessly as a smart speaker and hears you loud and clear even if you're several feet away.

It charges using a USB-C cable and can get close to its claimed battery life of 18 hours if you don't keep the volume full all the time. Its compact size means you can throw one inside your bag — or two if you want a stereo pair for extra loud music. You can do that and much more, including setting EQ presets using the companion app available for Android and iOS.

Specifications
  • Audio: Top-firing tweeter and woofer, 3-mic array
  • Power: Battery-powered, 18-hour life, USB-C charging
  • Price: $280
  • Connections: Bluetooth 5.1
  • Voice assistant: Alexa
  • Colors: Silver, black, green, pink, gold
  • Dimensions: 133 x 46 mm, 558g
  • Buttons: Touch controls, mute switch
  • Others: IP67, Google Fast Pair
Pros
  • Sounds full and exceptional for its size
  • Water and dust resistance make it pool ready
  • Compact, pretty design with a solid build
  • Long play time between charges at mid volume
Cons
  • Needs to stay connected to a phone to work
  • Expensive
Buy This Product
Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (Second Generation)

Blast the best smart speakers in your home

For those just starting to build their connected home setups, beginning with the affordable Echo Dot or the Nest Mini makes sense. Going with either voice assistant — and, by extension, their larger ecosystem — won't make much difference since both support thousands of smart home devices and can understand multiple languages. But if you already own a Fire TV or an Android TV set, you should strongly consider sticking with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

If you want a smart speaker to fill your living room or bedroom with quality sounds, the Nest Audio or the Sonos Move have fuller sound and a much more refined design. The Nest Audio, in particular, works quite well for larger rooms as a stereo pair, and you can purchase two of them for half the price of the Sonos Move, though the Move has the benefit of being portable, so you can move it from room to room. Speaking of rooms, Sonos handles multi-room audio better than any other smart brand or music service around, but it's quite an investment.

Once you've gotten a taste of what smart speakers can do for you and your family, you might want to bring an Echo smart display into the mix for your kitchen or nightstand or more smart plugs and lights to help you automate more of your home. The sky is the limit with your smart home, so remember to have fun exploring what all these devices can do.