Earlier we talked about the best voice assistants for Android . Such applications allow you to forget about using the touch screen at least for a while. And recently, on the basis of such assistants, so-called smart speakers began to be created. Such devices operate from the mains, so the assistant is always active - he must hear any question from the user. Also, a smart speaker is able to serve the requests of several people. And what other features can smart speakers boast? And which models are the best now? Let's find out the answers to these questions.
Please note that the most popular smart speakers use a special version of the voice assistant, which has not yet been taught the Russian >
What are smart speakers for?
Before meeting with the best representatives of the new class of devices, let's try to understand what tasks the smart speakers are doing. Almost every model considered in this selection has the following functions:
- Streaming music - any smart speaker is constantly connected to the global web, so it is easy for it to play a music track that is in a particular online service;
- Bluetooth music playback - many speakers can be synchronized with a smartphone, in some cases, the connection is significantly accelerated by the NFC chip;
- Smart home control - in the US, smart speakers are purchased just for the sake of voice control thermostat, radio, TV and other electrical appliances;
- Domestic help - the voice assistant is able to find any information on the Internet, from the recipe of a particular dish to the translation of the spoken text;
- Reading audiobooks is another useful feature that helps pass the time or even speed up sleep.
And what could a person find fault with if he decided to buy such a device? Perhaps only to the sound quality. If you compare a smart and completely ordinary portable speaker, having the same value, the second one will sound cleaner and more interesting. And this is despite the fact that more speakers are often used in smart speakers.
Google Home smart speakers exist in two versions, if you don’t even remember about the wide range of colors. Option called Google Home Mini is tiny in size. You should not expect a good sound from such a product. Such a device was created not for the sake of music, but for conversations with the user. Google Voice Assistant is used here as a voice assistant. Alas, there is no support for the Russian >
You can control the product not only with your voice, but also manually - in particular, pressing the edges of the gadget allows you to change the volume level. Included with the device is a special mount, thanks to which the smart column is placed at least on a horizontal, at least on a vertical surface.
If you want to get a louder and clearer sound, it is better to consider the option of buying Google Home Max . This option is worth an impressive $ 399 (against a paltry $ 49, which is asked for a compact model). Inside this monster there are two low-frequency and high-frequency loudspeakers (with a diagonal of 4.5 and 0.7 inches, respectively). Experts say that the product sounds better than most competitors. Another difference between the older version and the younger one is the greater number of sensitive microphones - there is a chance that the speaker in the room will even hear a person from the hallway.
- The miniature version does not take up much space;
- Google Assistant understands speech well and has many features;
- The maximum version sounds very good;
- Sensitive microphones are used;
- There are Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac modules;
- The version of Google Home Max is equipped with a linear audio input.
- A large column is very expensive;
- Not everyone will appreciate the sharpened under Google cloud services.
Apple has designed its smart column for several years. As a result, the engineers turned out to be a decent product running Siri . First of all, the product is sharpened for playing music. To cope with this task, the column is helped by eight different speakers, aimed in different directions. After first turning on the device scans the surrounding space, so as not to sound somewhere in the wall. User commands recognize six multidirectional microphones, to the sensitivity of which there are no complaints.
Bassiness is, of course, good. But where does HomePod music come from? Everything is predictable here. Apple Music is used for this, cloud services from other companies cannot be used. Another disadvantage of the smart speaker is the limited Siri. Previously, this voice assistant surprised you, but now similar software from Google and Amazon is much smarter. By the way, Russian is not supported here either. It is not worth waiting for its appearance in the near future, as the company from Cupertino does not plan to sell HomePod in Russia. At least officially.
- Nice appearance;
- Good sound quality;
- Many highly sensitive microphones;
- Great product for the Apple ecosystem;
- Selection of music according to the mood and desires of the user;
- The column does not look gigantic.
- It works mainly only with Apple online services;
- IPhone is required to use the speaker;
- Price list will not please everyone.
Amazon Echo Show
The assortment of the American company Amazon contains several very different smart speakers. This is explained by the fact that this manufacturer entered the market before the rest. The most interesting solution is the Echo Show . In fact, this product is intended to replace the tablet computer. There is also a 7-inch display that allows you to watch videos on YouTube. Moreover, the smart speaker is endowed with a 5 megapixel front camera, which contributes to making video calls! Unfortunately, Skype is not here, so you can only talk with the owners of this column or the Alexa application on your smartphone.
Like other similar products, the device has Bluetooth support. But it’s much easier to start the process of playing music using a variety of online services — not only the Music Library or Prime Music is supported, but also some third-party solutions.
Overall, Amazon Echo Show is the most feature-rich smart speaker in this collection. Alex is used here looking on the Internet for a variety of information, including on various videos. It also supports ordinary functions, such as setting a timer or creating a reminder. The price of the product can not be called a horse - some competitors are asking for much more than $ 230. Only the lack of support for the Russian >
- Not very large;
- There is a 7-inch display;
- Alexa is smart and quick-witted;
- Perhaps connecting appliances from the "smart home" series;
- When playing music, lyrics can be displayed;
- Video calls are available.
- It does not sound the best way.
Implementing Russian >Sony has gone the other way. The Japanese manufacturer severely cut the functionality of the BSP60 column. Smart call this device >
The device is designed to wake a person with a signal or some kind of music. It is allowed to set the time for awakening by voice, including pronouncing the appropriate phrases in Russian. The same way is available and disable the signal. If you don’t want to talk or if you don’t have a chance, then the touch keys located on the case will come to the rescue.
Of course, this column performs not only the role of an alarm clock. The device can be synchronized with a smartphone by running music playback. This is done via Bluetooth, you can speed up the process if there is an NFC chip in the phone. Power Japanese speakers is 2.5 watts. You should not count on perfect sound, as the simplest stereo speakers are located inside.
- Column with the support of the Russian >
- The product resembles the form of a real alarm clock;
- Available smartphone connection via Bluetooth;
- Loud enough sound;
- NFC support is built in;
- There is a hands-free function.
- Minimal functionality;
- Not the best sound quality;
- Very high cost.
Another clever speaker, which is controlled by the voice assistant Alexa . The device is omnidirectional - the speakers are arranged in a circle. Sound is delivered using two Class D amplifiers, one woofer and one tweeter. However, even this number of emitters is not enough, for some, the music seems too flat. Such a problem is solved by purchasing the second column. In stereo mode, smart speakers show themselves in all their glory. But not everyone wants to pay $ 400 instead of $ 200.
The main unpleasant surprise for the buyer will be the lack of Bluetooth. Have to use Wi-Fi, play music from the Internet. I am glad that the number of supported online services is very large - Sonos One supports even many forgotten Last.fm.
- Compact size;
- A variety of online services are supported;
- There is not only Wi-Fi, but also an Ethernet connector;
- Sensitive microphones are used;
- Amazon's Smart Voice Assistant;
- Bass must suit any buyer.
- No Bluetooth module;
- Alone, the speaker doesn't sound very interesting;
- Reasonably boring design, devoid of illumination.
There are other good-quality smart speakers. For example, the Chinese company Xiaomi could not bypass the emerging market. However, the creation of Mi AI Speaker was, it seems, a shot in the milk. First, it uses its own voice assistant, which is practically not integrated into the applications present on the smartphone. Secondly, the column speaks only in Chinese. But the device costs only $ 44, and the other undoubted advantage is the support of the Xiaomi smart home system.
They say that the wireless smart speaker is developed by Yandex . It looks like a logical step, because earlier the Russian search engine managed to create “Alice” - a wonderful voice assistant, speaking great and mighty. The company also already has its own service Yandex.Music, from where you can play audio tracks. Things are easy - to agree with someone about the development of the device with high-quality hardware. And if the reviews on the gadget turn out to be positive, then the column from Yandex will definitely be in this collection!