Which Smart Speaker Makes the Best Gift?
Smart speakers are on their way to becoming a household staple. A recent report suggests that 1 in 4 Adults in the US own a smart speaker, and the list of compatible items, like door locks, light bulbs, and security systems is growing along with it.
The idea of an integrated smart home a la “The Jetsons” isn’t too far from becoming reality, but with a number of players in the Smart Speaker game, which speaker is right for you? Or further, which speaker makes the best gift for someone else?
Our Winner: Boasting robust compatibility with other devices, a solid audio quality, and an affordable price, the Amazon Alexa is probably the best smart speaker gift for most people.
Second Place: If you’re looking to spend a bit more for top audio quality, the Sonos One smart speaker will not disappoint.
Top Smart Speakers
Amazon Echo – The original stand-alone smart speaker and present market leader.
Google Home – A sleek offering from Google, boasting the vast knowledge of the top search engine.
Apple Home Pod – A great sounding smart speaker for the Apple enthusiast.
Sonos One – The best sounding smart speaker with integrated Alexa voice assistant
Best for Beginners
At the lower end of the price spectrum, the Amazon Echo Dot ($49.99) and Google Home Mini ($49.00) are the perfect entry point for users to dip their toe in the smart speaker market without breaking the bank.
The mini smart speaker versions pack the same big brains as their big brothers just in a smaller footprint, allowing owners to more easily store them inconspicuously in the home.
Best For Audiophiles
The Sonos One speaker harnesses the power and compatibility of Alexa and is easily integrated with other Sonos speaker systems. The result is some of the best sounding audio quality in the smart speaker game.
However, retailing for $199 USD, the Sonos One is at the higher end of the price list among its competitors.
Best for Compatibility
The Amazon Echo is the original stand-alone smart speaker, and that head start in the industry shows with its expanded list of compatible devices.
With over 50,000 skills including apps, games, and other tools (like ordering an Uber, or Domino’s Pizza) the Amazon Echo is still a step ahead of the others. It also boasts the longest list of compatible third party items including:
- Phillips Hue
- Lutron smart switches
- Ring cameras
- Yale smart locks
- Schlage smart locks
- GE Enbrighten
Best for Apple Users
The Apple Home Pod is the smart speaker for those who live and die by the Apple ecosystem. However, being somewhat limited to this ecosystem means the Home Pod falls short in compatibility with other apps and third party tools.
The audio quality on the Apple Home Pod is excellent, and we would expect nothing less from the creators of iTunes and the iPod.
Also true to Apple form, the Home Pod comes with a hefty price tag of $299, making it one of the highest priced smart speakers on the market.
Note: You’ll need an iPhone or iPad to activate the Home Pod, as well as Apple Music to listen to tunes, so if you’re in an Android household, this probably isn’t for you.
Best for Android Users
The Google Home is probably the best option for Android users and anyone who just loves Google products, and at a $99.00 price point, it won’t break the bank.
For example, the Google Home can:
- Send and receive Chromecast signals
- Read out existing events in your calendar
- Make phone calls with Google Voice
- Jot down some quick notes in a Google Doc
The audio quality of the Google Home is sufficient, but certainly not the best, For average listeners it has enough volume and clarity as you might be used to, but for true audiophiles, this is not the answer.
The Google Home is also compatible with a quickly growing list of third party products like Nest, Phillips Hue, Lutron, and more.
Like Alexa, it can also do things like order an Uber or order Domino’s pizza, and its capabilities seem to be expanding daily.