By Chris Clark
We would all love a PA to help us run our busy day to day lives. What is in my calendar today? Do I have any meetings? Do I have any deadlines coming up? All questions we would love to have quick answers to. Now it is possible to get these answers, play your favourite songs and even more directly in your own home through a smart speaker that can live in the corner of any room. But which of these speakers should you be looking at to add an extra member to your family? heyday has tested some of the best speakers on the market right now so you can make the best choice for your needs.
Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)
The Amazon Echo is probably the most well-known smart speaker on the market and is typically the speaker the majority of people turn to first purely because of its popularity. This popularity is there for good reason however. There are a few varieties of the Echo all using the intuitive Alexa to answer all your questions but is the Echo we feel is the best version your money can buy. Simply ask about the weather, ask about your upcoming day or start your favourite Spotify playlist, it can do it all. It is stylish, coming in five different colours, and the sound quality coming from something so small is impressive. In terms of pricing, the Echo is about mid-range at £89.99 but paying these few extra pounds does make a real difference compared to some of the cheaper speakers on the market and it is a real upgrade compared to previous generations of the Echo. The speaker uses an app that links to your phone which, at times, can be a little tricky to set up but there aren’t really any other negatives. If you want a no-nonsense, reliable speaker then the Amazon Echo is most likely the one for you.
amazon.co.uk | £89.99
If top-quality sound is your thing as well as all the other functionalities, then the Sonos One is the speaker you should be looking at. The audio quality from this speaker is unrivalled and the app that links to the speaker through your phone is both intuitive and comprehensive. It is quite amazing how something so small can churn out such a big sound. It also works with both Alexa and Google Assistant so if you prefer one over the other, then the choice is yours. The Sonos One also links up with other Sonos products meaning it can be part of your home entertainment system. Nearly all streaming services run through the Sonos One so all your favourite songs are just a command away. One thing this speaker cannot do is make calls which many of the other speakers can do and this might be something that puts some buyers off. The price point is also on the more expensive side but you do get real quality for your money. If you’re an audiophile looking for a smart speaker then there really is no other speaker on the market that matches up to the Sonos One.
sonos.com | £199
JBL Link 20
There aren’t many any other speakers on the market that can boast to be both weatherproof and portable. The JBL Link 20 does both of these and does them very well. Fancy taking your speaker outdoors to play your favourite songs for your next barbeque? No problem. The speaker does not need a plug-in wire for it to work and with an impressive 10-hour battery life, so it shouldn’t die halfway through your festivities. What if there is a sudden, unexpected downpour? No problem. The speaker can be submerged for up to 30 minutes. This speaker can’t make hands free calls which most others can but most probably you won’t be buying the speaker for this function. The sound from the speaker itself is good although the bass could be a little better and is nowhere near the quality of the Sonos One. Google Assistant is on-hand to answer any questions or give you any updates you may need. Charging through a micro-USB is also a little dated although, to most, probably not too much of an issue. Need a speaker to power you through your next get together? The JBL Link 20 will see you through with flying colours.
onbuy.com | £84.95
Google Nest Hub Max
This speaker is at the premium end of the smart speaker range although with this device you are purchasing far more than just a simple speaker. It doubles up as a clever smart home hub with capabilities far beyond anything else in this list with a massive 10-inch touch screen which lets you do everything from watch videos to looking up step-by-step instructions on your favourite recipe. It can even show you how long your morning commute is going to be on a colour map. The speaker itself can be easily forgotten amongst all the other features but the sound quality is truly excellent. You can make video calls using the Google Nest using Google Duo (a slight negative as you have to use this) and it also includes very clever motion-tracking which keeps you in the centre of the screen at all times, even if you wander around your kitchen whilst cooking dinner. The camera privacy switch is a welcome addition to those who are worried about security breaches as it will switch the camera off completely to anybody and everybody. If you have any other Google Home compatible devices, they are all controllable using the Hub so you can switch the light off upstairs from the comfort of your kitchen. Although pricey, the Google Nest Hub offers a range of features that most other speakers just can’t live up to.
currys.co.uk | £199
Although Apple is one of the biggest tech companies in the world, it was very late to enter the smart speaker market. It was, perhaps, worth the wait as the Apple HomePod, especially if you own an iPhone or have bought into other Apple products. The first thing most people say about this speaker is how good the sound is being crisp, clear and able to fill a decent sized room even though the speaker itself is very compact and inconspicuous. Siri is the go-to here and those using Apple products will be used to this intuitive system. There are a few downsides to the speaker. If you own an Android device then this speaker just is not for you. There is perhaps an over reliability with voice control and you really are stuck with everything Apple including music streaming services, which may put some off. Away from these things though, you are getting an excellent speaker, capable of everything all the others can do but it does it perhaps with a little more style, elegance and class. If you own an Apple device then check out the HomePod. It may be the device you are looking for.
argos.co.uk | £199