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Bose Home Speaker 300 review: Solid smart speaker with Alexa and Google, but it's not the One

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The Good The Bose Home Speaker 300 offers a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant and excellent microphone response. It's able to play quite loud and still register voice commands. Connectivity is excellent, including a 3.5mm input and Bluetooth.

The Bad It can sound a little distant with some material and most of its rivals offer fuller sound. The Smart Home series is not compatible with the existing Bose SoundTouch systems. There's no Chromecast built-in.

The Bottom Line While its audio quality doesn't measure up to competitors like the cheaper Sonos One, the Bose Home Speaker 300 is a flexible smart speaker with excellent voice assistant performance.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Sound quality 7

Google Assistant versus Amazon Alexa. Much like the format wars of yore -- VHS versus Beta, HDR 10 versus Dolby Vision -- it pits two tech ecosystems against one another. Amazon Alexa is more popular, but Google Assistant performs better. But what if you don't want to have to choose between them? What if, instead of a format war, you want peaceful coexistence? You get a smart speaker that does both.

The excellent Sonos One ($199 at Amazon) was the first such peace offering, but the Bose Home Speaker 300 ($260, £250) is now here to challenge it. A voice-operated speaker with excellent microphone performance, the Bose has a 360-degree driver that makes it less fussy about where you place the speaker in a room. 

The Bose 300 is a little pricey, and isn't compatible with the existing Bose SoundTouch range, but its main issue is slightly worse sound quality than the competition. The cheaper Sonos One and more expensive Apple HomePod ($299 at Walmart) and Google Home Max ($299 at Walmart) all sound better than the Bose, with more presence and better bass response. 

If you already own a Bose Home Speaker 500, then the 300 might be worthwhile for building out your whole-home system. Otherwise the Sonos One is a better choice for most people.

Sorry, Bose SoundTouch owners, no Home for you

in 2013 Bose introduced its first multiroom system, SoundTouch, which grew to incorporate sound bars, a subwoofer, adaptors and tabletop speakers. It performed well and no doubt is still enjoyed by many Bose owners. But it's not here to stay.

The SoundTouch range is gradually being phased out in favor of the new Home range, all of which offer the choice of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, in addition to Bluetooth and the easy-to-use Home app. At present, Bose Home consists of three products -- Bose Home Speaker 300 ($260), the Bose Home Speaker 500 ($400), and the Bose Soundbar 700 ($800) -- and none of them are compatible with SoundTouch speakers. That's a marked contrast to Sonos, whose new voice speakers like the Sonos One work fine in multiroom systems with older Sonos speakers. 

The only caveat to the lack of intercompatibility is that the SoundTouch sub will work with the Soundbar 700.

Design

14-bose-home-speaker-300
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Sarah Tew/CNET

Ever since SoundTouch came out in 2013, Bose has been playing catch-up with Sonos and the launch of the Home Speaker 300 is no exception: It comes 18 months after the Sonos One. The 300 is not a simple clone though, and it does enough to differentiate itself through its refinement of the original SoundTouch 10 ($199 at Amazon)

15-bose-home-speaker-300
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Sarah Tew/CNET

The curvy 300 keeps elements from the 10, such as the six shortcut buttons (now capacitive), and adds a 360-degree speaker and the mic array for the voice assistant. It dispenses with the display. 

The bottom half of the black speaker is open and through the grille you can see the downward-facing driver, which is dispersed via a series of sound guides. While you could theoretically place this in the center of the room, it's more likely to sit somewhere on the side of your living space or kitchen. If you want to know how far back you'll need to push that toaster, the 300 is 6.3 inches high, 5.6 inches wide and 4 inches deep.

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