More of us are integrating smart technology into our homes. One gadget that is particularly popular is the smart speaker. Navigating the endless possibilities of today’s smart market can be overwhelming. We’ve found the best smart speakers based on expert opinion. Do you want to hear a song? Just ask your smart speaker to play it. What about the news or the weather? Yes, that is possible too.
One study even found that your smart speaker can help you overcome public speaking jitters. Penn State researchers have developed a program that turns Amazon’s Alexa into a public speaking coach. It teaches users cognitive restructuring exercises, a psychological technique designed to relieve anxiety while recognizing and changing negative thought patterns. The program was tested during the study and successfully alleviated participants’ pre-speech anxiety.
However, there can be downsides to owning smart speakers, especially if you have kids. Investigation of the The University of Cambridge discovered that smart devices with a voice assistant can hinder a child’s social-emotional development, and critical thinking ability. In addition, the devices do not teach children how to behave politely, as no “please” or “thank you” is expected, and no consideration is given to tone of voice. Privacy concerns have also been raised regarding the recording of private conversations, the study authors say.
After considering the pros and cons, StudyFinds has you covered if you want to buy your first smart speaker or upgrade your existing one. We’ve put together a list of the top five smart speakers, from ten expert websites. As always, we’d love to see your own recommendations in the comments below!
The list: best smart speakers, according to expert reviews
1. Amazon Echo (4th Generation)
For $99.99, this smart speaker is “is an adorable orb of sound that brings the same bold bass and wide soundstage as the previous model, but with more room-filling sound than ever before,” according to Wired.
Released in 2020, this redesigned Echo works with Alexa and has “a built-in Zigbee smart hub and more potential under its new 100 percent recycled hood. You don’t have to have a particularly keen eye to realize that Amazon has started all over again for this fourth-generation Echo,” adds What Hi-Fi?
“While the default sound profile is a bit boomy and muffled, you can adjust the bass and treble using the adjustments in the Amazon Alexa app. There is also a microphone mute button so you can control when the speaker is listening to you,” explains RTINGS.com.
2. Sonos One smart speaker
The Sonos One is more expensive, at $219, but it works with both Alexa and Google Assistant.
“Though it’s not much bigger than the Amazon Echo, the Sonos One produces tunes that you’d swear come from a much bigger device. Like other Sonos devices, you can pair two of the Ones for true stereo sound, or link them to other Sonos speakers for whole-home audio,” says Tom’s Guide.
Engadget adds: “It just sounds great, especially when you tune the speaker to your room using the Sonos iOS app. It only takes a few minutes and the One sounds lively, with a powerful bass and clear highs.”
3. Apple HomePod Mini
This $99 Apple smart speaker comes in some fun colors like yellow and blue along with the standard variants. Consumer Reports calls it the “best speaker for Apple fans,” noting: it “has clean, bulbous styling and is a solid option for control Apple HomeKit smart home products and services such as Apple Music.”
“Features like intercom, audio transfer and stereo pairing make this little smart speaker quite practical. It looks good and sounds great too,” emphasizes CNET.
“This is the smart speaker for Apple users, and specifically for Apple users who use Siri instead of Alexa or Google Assistant for everything they need. If you have an iPhone and have made sure all your smart home devices are HomeKit-enabled, this is ideal,” said PCMag.
4. Google Nest Audio
If you’re a fan of Google products, Google Nest Audio for $99.99 is worth checking out. “It has a compact, pillow-like shape and great sound that will easily fill small and medium-sized rooms,” notes Wired.
“Its subtle and unobtrusive design should blend in well with any decor, and in addition to its audio prowess, it’s also a surprisingly intelligent smart home hub. It ties into some of the biggest platforms available now, including Nest, Philips and Samsung’s SmartThings,” added TechRadar.
“It’s not just one of the best smart speakers in terms of sound – thanks to on-device processing, the Google Assistant gives quick responses, which is useful when searching for music or getting an overview of the morning while you’re in a hurry you have,” said Tom’s Guide.
5. Amazon Echo Studio smart speaker
Music lovers will really like how the $199.99 Amazon Echo Studio performs. “It comes with support for the Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio standards, so it’s capable of filling a room and then some with rich, vibrant acoustics. Built inside are three 2-inch midrange speakers, a 1-inch tweeter and a 5.25-inch woofer,” emphasizes T3 Smarter Living.
“Whether you’re listening to classics or the latest pop hits, you’ll enjoy clear reproduction of voices and instruments thanks to the speaker’s balanced frequency response. If you want a different sound, you can switch it up using the bass and treble adjustments in the Amazon Alexa app,” notes RTINGS.com.
TechRadar calls it the “best smart speaker for home theater setups”: “If you buy two Amazon Echo Studio speakers, you can set them up in the Alexa app to create an immersive home theater system. We tested that setup too, and while it’s not as immersive as a dedicated surround sound system, it’s still very impressive and impressively loud.”
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Note: This article is not paid for or sponsored. StudyFinds is not affiliated with or partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.
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