The best smart speakers do everything you want and by everything, we mean everything. Control your temperature. Modulate your lighting. Check the weather. Done. And done. It’s why the best speakers do so much more than just play Wilco.
In the less than five years since it was introduced, the Amazon Echo has been joined in the smart speaker market by dozens of competitors, most notably the Google Home. Together the two behemoths control 94 percent of the market. (Sorry, Apple and Microsoft). Some 21 percent of Americans now own a smart speaker, and those numbers are growing fast. For those looking to add a voice to their home, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite well-reviewed smart speakers, from sound bars and portable models to high-end whole-home systems. They serve different purposes, but they all look good, sound great, and are powered by increasingly useful digital assistants.
Instead of settling for mediocre sound, you can now upgrade to a fully immersive experience featuring Dolby Atmos technology for clarity and depth. Sure, Alexa is there to serve you. But really, the music does the talking here. The sound quality is spectacular, with a bass that gets under your skin. Plus, you can use the speaker to control all your Zigbee-compatible devices. We especially like that this speaker has a microphone off button to help protect your privacy from any unwanted recordings.
Just about the only thing this Bose speaker can't do is your laundry. When you pair it with the app, you have total control of what's playing in your home. And the six presets make it easy to find that one podcast you've been forgetting to finish.
You're getting no-joke musical power with this speaker. Plus, it has a built-in conferencing system with noise cancellation, for those who work from home. You get eight hours of playtime on one charge, and truly rich audio quality.
This stunner of a speaker is waterproof, and delivers surprisingly powerful stereo sound. It's powered by a 3000mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery that gives you 12 hours of continuous audio playtime. You can choose from six different colors, and it's totally portable.
Bose has defined quality in the consumer sound market for decades, and the SoundLink Revolve+ continues this legacy. An important note: this speaker doesn't come with a voice assistant built in. Instead, it links to your phone and has a button that can activate Siri in iOS devices and Google Assistant in Android devices. That's a less elegant solution than the other speakers on this list, but the sound quality and sleek design still make this a speaker worth checking out.
Either synced seamlessly with the rest of your Sonos system (like the aforementioned One) or perfectly content on its own, the wired speaker also connects to Amazon Alexa, allowing you to turn on the TV, change channels, increase the volume, and more. It also connects to Apple AirPlay. While it’s less powerful (and expensive) than the company’s other sound bars, to date it’s their only smart bar, which can outweigh the alternatives’ sound benefits.
The Acton II Voice is immediately recognizable by fans of the company’s legendary guitar amps and cabinets and by anyone who's ever been to a rock concert. Three dedicated amps power dual tweeters and a subwoofer for big sound despite its small size (about 6 inches tall and deep and 10 inches wide). But under its classic good looks is an all-new, Alexa-connectable brain. Use it to pair the speaker with others in your home that also connect with the service, creating a bespoke whole-house system with a look that's completely different from its competitors.
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