People were looking for the bestest smart speaker in the world.
On my exact hardware, they're experts and to get parts we're gonna judge these smart speakers on four different factors sound quality, smart home compatibility, General IQ and value.
Here are four competitors
Apple home pod Sonos one Amazon echo dot and Google nest Mini.
Alright Andrew, these devices vary quite a bit in price.
Why these four?
So these are sort of the best smart speakers that we've recommended to people for a variety of different reasons.
And so when we're thinking about smart speakers, we wanted the standouts from the category.
And these all are really good smart speakers in their own right.
So we brought them here to compare them even though it kind of looks like comparing apples to oranges but they're really good.
They're just serve different needs.
We got first round is sound quality.
These devices are physically very different.
I'd imagine the sound quality kind of goes along with that.
Andrew, would you find out did you find out that the Mini is the best sounding one of the bunch?
I mean, if you hold it really close to your ear it's really booming It should sound great.
Did you hear the sea when you did that?
It was delightful.
No, obviously not.
These two are way worse in terms of sound quality than these two, as you'd probably expect.
The home Pod it was marketed first as a speaker and its smarts were second.
And it has IQ in there to tailor the sound of the room.
And then Sonos is a speaker company.
So of course this thing sounds really good.
These guys are much smaller, they're much more affordable, and they serve needs other than sound quality in terms of the actual sound that comes out of these It's fine.
Beyond hearing the voice assistants in here, you'll be listening to music.
How did these guys handled music streaming services?
So these three here all pretty much the same.
Which is to say they work with a wide variety of different services.
If you like streaming on Spotify or Pandora You're gonna be in luck on all three.
This one works with Apple Music and amazon music.
It has a pretty good deal and maybe the most robust catalog, but you're probably gonna be happy with any of the three of these depending on what music service you use.
Apple, as is the case with apple, is pretty restrictive.
In terms of what you can have on there, just Apple Music.
You could always use Bluetooth to-
Stream your own thing, yeah.
What about if you wanted to set up a stereo pair?
Do these speakers support that?
Yeah, all of them do actually.
So at first, it was just this one, but they've slowly rolled out that compatibility across the board towards these different things.
Again, these two don't sound as good in general.
So the stereo pairs also not gonna sound as good but you can get stereo sound out of any of them.
If you have to, and Wanna put them on either side of you and walk you around your house with them like a boombox actually can't you have to plug them all in but you can make a stereo pair out of any of them.
Who do you have is the winner for sound quality.
So the apple home pod sounds the best especially if you You're talking regardless of price.
They knew what they were doing the way that the sound interacts with the room.
It just it sounds really good.
So the winner of this round is the apple home pod.
Now before our next round, let's explain why we flew Andrew in all the way from the great state of Kentucky.
Andrew Gephardt is a multi platform journalist, he's been with CNET for over half a decade.
In those years Andrew has seen the smartphone category grow with more and more products getting smarter.
Andrew does his best to figure out what is worth buying while testing in the CNET smart home.
The Smart Home is a living lab which allows for immersive testing.
Outside of that Andrew enjoys rooting for the Detroit redwings And mispronouncing the word bagel.
How do you say bagel?
Bagel, that's fantastic.
As it should be, apparently.
I'm standing by this.
He's our expert, so we have to listen to him.
Let's go to round 2, please.
Smartphone compatibility, Andrew, could you define that for us, please?
Sure, it's how well
The smart speakers work with the devices in your smart home.
How intuitive it is to control smart home gadgets, and how many different types of smart home gadgets that they work with.
Now lots and lots of devices have become much more smart.
What kind of devices do these work with?
So you can find any category of device that works with any of the smart assistants.
So this one obviously has the Google Assistant.
This one has Amazon's assistant.
This one is Siri.
And then this one actually works with both Google and Amazon so you sort of get the best of both worlds.
Is sort of in the lead in terms of numbers like it works with 10s of thousands of different devices.
But Google has functionally caught up.
Which is to say that any device you're going to find in the store is going to work with both.
They comparing like the iOS app store with the Android store.
IOS still has more, but how many apps are you actually going to use?
The main ones are going to work with both.
And then this one's going to have the advantage of.
If you do find one that doesn't work with one versus the other, you can switch back and forth here.
So Apple home pod works with the fewest.
It's still functional.
You can still find a variety of categories.
So here we're talking light bulbs.
Talking smart locks.
We're talking smart cameras, we're talking shades, we're talking all kinds of devices that you might want to smart now.
Basically anything with electronics in your home you can make smart somehow or the other.
And some even dumb things you can plug into like a smart switch.
Control that with these gadgets as well.
So I'm gonna assume that the home pod is not the winner on this.
No, it's definitely not.
It is fine, especially if you're really invested in Apple's ecosystem.
It's pretty good.
The app is pretty good.
It's easy enough to set up but these work with way more devices And really, I think, I'd call the winner of this one because it has both of the assistance built in here.
So the winner here, this one.
The Sonos One.
The Sonos One.
Let's talk a little bit about privacy.
Now these speakers are taking voice commands.
That means they're listening.
What should people know about that?
So they're always listening devices, but in theory, they're only gonna be recording after you say the wake words for the various speakers.
So it's really not gonna end up being more invasive in your home than the cell phone you have in your pocket that has a microphone and a GPS tracker on it anyway But it's still, you know, cause for concern I guess for some people, but all the companies have privacy policies we can opt out of what you're sharing and everything like that.
Apple actually probably get some bonus points here, because their walled garden approach Means that every device that works with the apple home pod has to go through like their rigorous security protocols, whereas these guys allow a much wider variety so it makes building an apple homekit ecosystem a little bit more difficult.
Because you have just so much more options here, but it is maybe a little bit more secure.
Still, we're not seeing that much in terms of breaches and everything like that with these devices.
And again, they're not listening unless you say the wake words and all of them have a mute button if you really don't want them listening to the conversation.
In the mini actually has a physical switch.
Now do you actually turn off the microphone?
I really do find that more comforting than hitting a software button, or just a little tap button.
But that is definitely something that if you are worried about privacy, you can mute this.
You don't always have to have it on.
All right, so let's go to our next round.
Smart speakers are not just for home control.
They can do way more.
Let's talk about general IQ.
So a smart speaker can tell jokes.
A smart speaker can if you ask about the weather or your calendar, they can tell you where the closest place to eat is if you're hungry, so they have a large variety of responses to questions from everything about your day to just general trivia.
And yes, so there can be handy assistance in a lot of ways other than controlling your smart home.
What about shopping?
So you can shop on these devices as well, and you can verify your purchases with the sound of your voice if you want, but you want to be comforable with that.
Becuase none of them have that great of voice recognition.
Still you can do it.
The best one at shopping is the Amazon Echo dots because it works with Amazon.
Yeah, I've heard of that store.
Yeah, it's a fairly famous online retailer that some people might have heard of.
But Google has shopping services to Google Express, which became Google Shopping, works with retailers like Walmart and Target and Best Buy.
So you can do plenty of shopping on here as well.
So yes, shopping is an option.
Probably with the advantage to the echo dots.
But I generally think in terms of overall IQ, Google is just better at understanding and wider variety of commands, like Amazon can still get tripped up, and Siri can still misunderstand what you're saying from time to time.
So Google is the one that just Will understand your question and be able to give you a cogent response more often than not.
Now, two of these devices have Google Assistant, which one are you picking as the winner?
I'm gonna take the Nest Mini which is the firt party Google Device.
It's gonna get updates a little bit faster.
This is still gonna respond if you've equipped Google Assistant Pretty much as well.
But since I'm giving credit to Google, I'm going to give credit all the way to Google and take the NES Mini now it's going to feel bad for the home pod.
Sound quality, it's just, it's also here for all the rest of the categories.
It's a it's a speaker first speaker first.
That's what it is.
So the Google nest mini takes this round.
Let's look at value two of these smart speakers retail for $50, The other two, it's a tiny bit more.
What do you look for in value beyond the price tag, Andrew?
I mean, you have to stack these though several times to get the sight of the Sonos one.
So if you think of them as several dots packaged together, then maybe it's a little bit closer, but price is obviously a big consideration.
And then the thing with value is that if you're now looking for sound quality, There is no reason to go with one of these guys because you get all of the smarts.
So that general IQ, the smart home control in these for way less and that $50 price tag is what they are listed for?
You almost never gonna have to pay even that, they are almost always on sale for less.
So, these are a leaps and bounds better value than these guys.
These guys sound significantly better but you get that great smart assistance you get the great capabilities of a smart speaker which helps bring the smart home together and make it easier to control for really easy sport.
So if you're gonna splurge maybe not spend 300 and $200 if you really want an assistant
Absolutely not, if all you're looking for is that smart assistants, one of these to the NES Mini or the echo.is a significantly better bet, because you're losing none of that.
And in fact, these guys have much better assistance.
In terms of responsiveness and IQ and smart home compatibility, then Siri and even though this one has both, you're still paying a premium.
Okay, what do you got as the winner when it comes to value?
I'm gonna go with the echo.it narrowly edges, the nest mini here, they're both sort of neck and neck, but this one you find on sale a little bit more often and.
Especially now, Amazon has a new Echo Dot with clock out.
It's basically this exact same thing with a clock on the front.
But that means you can sometimes find this one cheaper, a little bit more often.
Amazon gives this stuff away, kinda.
If you buy one device, they give you another one.
Here's a Dot for nothing.
They're just going to be litter in the streets one day.
The winner of this round in value is the amazon echo dot.
Now after all four rounds of competition, the best smart speaker is,
The Amazon Echo Dot.
Now here's what makes the Echo Dot the champ Amazon's assistant is really smart.
It works with a ton of smart home stuff.
It's really easy to set up and it's pretty affordable at less than 50 bucks 50 bucks or find it for less.
Don't pay 50 bucks because you can usually find a filler.
Is there anything else you'd like to add Andrew?
Sure, so this is a narrow winner over this guy, and if you prefer the google assistant, there's no reason not to go with the Nest Mini.
And if you want sound quality in your smart speaker, you should go with something like the Sonos One for the wide compatibility.
And if you really love the Apple, the Apple Home Pod.
Again, all four of these are actually really good in their own right.
It's just for the most people, if you're just going out shopping, Echo Dot's sort of the one on to grab.
Or you could spend 100 bucks and buy both of them and forget these guys.
And there you go, and then your needs are met, whichever assistant you want to pick.
Thank you to Andrew and you great viewers.
Let us know what you think of the results.
We love hearing from you.
From all of us here.
We wish you the best.
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