Smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Smart speakers work both for listening to music and news as well as for controlling connected home devices or even ordering food via voice commands. Alexa and Google Assistant are two examples of virtual assistants found in soundboxes like the Echo and Nest lines, respectively. It is worth mentioning that the use of assistants from different types of electronics grew 47% during the coronavirus pandemic.
The search for smart speakers also called attention during Black Friday, especially with Amazon models: terms like “Alexa” and “Echo” appear almost three times higher compared to the period in 2019, according to data from Google Trends. With that in mind, Techidence has separated some tips that will help you when choosing a new smart soundbox for your home.
Define the type of use
First, it is important to define the type of use of your new soundbox. If the intention is to use the device only as a personal assistant at home or in small environments. Smaller and compact models should do the trick, besides being more economical options.
But if you want to use the device to listen to music in open spaces or even larger rooms, for example, you should opt for devices with more powerful speakers. This way, it will be possible to guarantee a wider sound range, avoiding the need to connect other devices – which is also quite common in accessories of this type.
For the use of smart speakers in outdoor areas with swimming pools, for example, it is recommended to choose water-resistant devices. Besides, it is also good to choose models that have an integrated battery, so it is easier to carry the device around because the box does not need to be connected to the outlet all the time.
It is worth mentioning that this is not the original design of smart speakers, but there are interesting options on the market. One example is the Link 10, from JBL, which comes equipped with Google Assistant, has an integrated battery, is water-resistant, and has 16 Watts RMS power in total. With a price of $150, the model delivers good sound quality, features common to traditional speakers, and, at the same time, offers functions connected through Google service.
Know which Assistant comes Integrated
Virtual assistants are another thing that needs to be considered when choosing a smart soundbox. Alexa and Google Assistant are the most common in boxes of this type and can be used both in Android and iPhone (iOS), including through the apps used to configure the speakers.
The Google Speaker Assistant promises to perform searches more accurately, because it uses the search engine database, staying ahead of Amazon in this regard. Another advantage is voice recognition: the assistant can identify the different voices in the environment, allowing the creation of different profiles with different settings for each one.
Alexa, on the other hand, has integrated services from Amazon. Thus, the user can check orders made through the company’s website, watch movies and series via Amazon Prime Video, as well as listen to music via Amazon Music – in addition to other apps such as Spotify, Deezer, and more. Also, it is possible to activate skills of different types, ranging from connected home platforms to games and delivery applications.
Amazon also ensures that Alexa can recognize different accents, as well as identify regional slang and expressions. Google Assistant, on the other hand, is usually more objective in its answers and interact less with the user.
Another assistant available in smart speakers is Siri, from Apple, present in HomePod and HomePod Mini. There are also less common examples, such as Galaxy Home, Samsung’s speaker with Bixby, and Harman Kardon Invoke, which comes equipped with Cortana, Microsoft’s assistant – the brand’s most recent boxes already come with Google Assistant.
Consider the compatible connected home services
Before buying a smart speaker it is important to check if the product is compatible with the devices you use daily. Although some manufacturers are investing in devices that are compatible with the main assistants in the market, it is necessary to be aware before buying a new model, precisely to know if it will be able to communicate with what you already have.
Therefore, check the features and integrations supported by your smart TVs, smart lamps, media centers, smart plugs, among other connected home devices. If most of them offer integration to a specific service, it is worth buying a box with a designated assistant.
Smart speakers are usually very modest and have sober color options that end up decorating the environment. But some models are a little bigger and can attract more attention, like Echo Studio, for example. Not to mention that the size can also be difficult if the intention is to use the device in different places.
Also, some models have an integrated screen, allowing the user to watch a video with the step by step of some recipes while cooking or even keep an eye on another room as a kind of electronic nanny – like Echo Show. Water and dust resistance, in turn, can be interesting solutions for portable boxes like the options of the JBL Link line.
If you want to use the smart speaker only as a way to control other devices and interact with the voice assistant, it is worth investing in smaller and simpler models. But if the idea is to have a more complete soundbox in the device, it is interesting to choose models with higher sound quality.
Options such as JBL Link 20, Harmon Kardon Citation 300, and Echo Studio promise greater power in playback but are more expensive options in their lines. There are alternatives more accessible and that should take care of not too big environments, such as JBL Link 10, Harman Kardon Citation One, and the Amazon Echo.
Find out if it works as a connection hub
If you intend to use your smart speaker to control IoT devices around the house, know that in some cases it is possible to connect lamps and other smart devices directly to the box, as long as it works as a hub.
The latest Echo, for example, the fourth generation, is compatible with the ZigBee standard, communication protocol to integrate electronics of the type. This will allow you to install Philips Hue bulbs faster, for example, without the need to have a specific bridge for this – which is usually relatively expensive. Other Amazon accessories are compatible, such as Echo Show 8 and Echo Studio.
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