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The best smart speakers in 2022

Whether you are a tech enthusiast or relatively new to the world of smart technology, smart speakers are definitely worth considering when it comes to making your home more connected.

Let us talk you through the smart speaker market, including a list of the very best speakers, and the types of features you might want to consider before making a purchase.

What’s the purpose of a smart speaker?

As smart as it is, the primary aim of any smart speaker is to play audio, so that you can listen to all your favourite music, audiobooks, and a variety of streaming services.

Most, you don’t need to control with your hands – simply choose a voice assistant to do the work for you.

Depending on the feature set of the brand you choose you can also set timers, ask questions and keep up to date with the latest news. 

How Boundary can integrate with a smart speaker

Boundary connects seamlessly with 100s of other devices, and smart speakers are just one of many smart home integrations capable of making your home smarter, more efficient and helpful.

Boundary works with Alexa and Google Home, and is listed in the Alexa Skills catalogue. Here are just a small handful of examples showing how you can integrate your smart speaker with your Boundary alarm. 

  • Use voice control to set your alarm – Using voice control as a verbal PIN to arm your alarm as you leave the house.
  • Have a dog barking if your alarm is triggered – Play a dog barking or a loud siren through your smart speakers as an additional deterrent. 
  • Provide a welcome message – Programme your Alexa or Google Home to welcome you when you walk through the front door. 

 

There are endless IFTTT (If This, Then That) integrations with Boundary’s smart home security system. Check out the existing Boundary applets at ifttt.com, available on all monthly plans except Lite.

Next, we look to review seven of the most popular speakers to help you decide which is the best smart speaker for you and your home.

Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen

The latest Amazon Echo is certainly making waves as one of the best smart speakers on the market. There have been many improvements made on its predecessors, from looking much more pleasing design-wise, to having a built-in hub, better-sounding audio and a processor that means Alexa can now answer faster than ever.

We must admit that there aren’t many downsides to the Amazon Echo Dot. But, being picky, the top volume level could be louder, and you will need to use Bluetooth if you want to connect the Amazon Echo Dot to your phone.

Pros

  • Great aesthetics
  • Improved sound quality
  • Comes with hub integration

Cons

  • The maximum volume could be louder.

Sonos One

Sonos’ first venture into the market of smart speakers certainly does not disappoint, and for many, they are hands-down the best smart speakers out there.

Not only does it have an amazing design packed with cool features and unparalleled sound quality, but it will also work with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Also, using AirPlay 2, the Sonos speakers connect with Apple’s Siri to pair with an Apple Homepod if you have one.

The Sonos One isn’t the most affordable smart speaker out there, but we feel it very much warrants the price thanks to its incredible features. There’s also the Sonos portable smart speaker category to discover if you want to take your sounds outside or from room to room.

Pros

  • Stunning sounds
  • Choice of voice assistant
  • Can hear commands, even from a distance

Cons

  • Quite a pricey option.

Apple HomePod Mini

While its relative, the larger HomePod, was discontinued in 2021, the Apple HomePod Mini could be just the ticket for you if you have an Apple Music subscription. This little speaker certainly packs a punch when it comes to sound quality and design.

It is also much cheaper than many people expect. In fact, it is the most affordable Apple device around.

The major downside of the HomePod Mini is that if you don’t have an Apple Music subscription, you are extremely limited. You can’t ask Siri to play Spotify, for example. 

If you want to use another music streaming service, you can do it through AirPlay, but you’ll have to use your phone for this. Compared to Google Assistant speakers and Amazon Alexa-enabled speakers, the HomePod Mini has a much smaller number of compatible devices.

As it stands, however, the HomePod is an excellent speaker for playing music as its audio performance is extremely impressive for such a small device.

Pros

  • Excellent sound
  • Futuristic design
  • Siri built-in

Cons

  • Requires Apple Music subscription.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)

Bang & Olufsen are well known sound apprecionados. The Danish tech giant has a range of impressive, forward-thinking designs, and the Beosound A1 is the same.

Although it is only a Bluetooth speaker, it does have an Alexa smart assistant built-in. It doesn’t look too dissimilar to the Amazon Echo, except that it is bigger, and comes in a range of colours, including spaceship grey, moody green and a lot more in between.

In terms of audio the sound is clean, crisp and authoritative with a weighty bass.

Its design is excellent, very user friendly and you can connect to Alexa with ease, as long as your smartphone is close to your hand and connected to the internet. This is why we believe it is one of the best smart home devices around and not just a great smart speaker.

Pros

  • Incredible stereo sound and quality bass
  • Works with Alexa
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • In order to use Amazon Alexa, you will need to have a smartphone close to hand at all times.

Google Nest Audio

Since Google discontinued the Google Home Max speaker, the best smart speaker you can buy from Google has to be the Google Nest. The voice assistant quickly responds in a clear and loud (but not too loud) manner.

It also looks really great with its smart display, and while it gives minimalist vibes, it would happily blend into just about any home decor setting.

It can also be used in conjunction with a range of the largest platforms now available, including Samsung SmartThings, Nest Audio and Philips. But – and it’s a big but – there is no built-in hub which, when considering how intelligent the device is, is a pretty big downside.

Use the Google Home app to tell Google which speaker is left and which is right; after that, you are ready to go.

Pros

  • Easy on the eye
  • Google Assistant picks up voice commands very well, including from a distance
  • Quick voice assistant responses

Cons

  • Sound could do with some improvement; bass is known to be tinny in places when you play music.

Bose Smart Speaker 500

Not all sound systems were created equal. And, if you are searching for the best smart speaker in terms of quality sound, your search is over.

Boasting a great design, impressive technology and both an Alexa and Google voice assistant when you need them, there’s very little not to like when it comes to the Bose Smart Speaker 500. The speaker is made from aluminium, giving it a modern feel. But, it’s the quality of the sound that really makes this smart device pop.

Even when your music is playing loud, thanks to an eight microphone array, you will both be able to hear and communicate with Alexa or Google Assistant. There are also options to add your favourite playlists, radio stations, albums and much more. And, you can adjust the sound to exactly how you would like it, thanks to the Bose Music App.

We won’t beat around the bush here; the Bose Smart Speaker 500 is the best sounding smart speaker currently available on the market today, in our humble opinion. For us, it blows other smart speakers out of the park.

Pros:

  • Best available audio quality
  • Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled
  • Preset buttons allow you to find your favourite albums and playlists quickly

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Smart Speaker

Not all smart speakers are created equal, and knowing this can go a long way towards helping you decide which speaker is best for you and your home.

Eco-system

It’s now possible – not to mention easy – to link your services to a smart speaker, such as Spotify, for example. But, if you have other smart gadgets in the home, that’s when the excitement can build. 

Say you have a smart television; you can connect the speaker to the TV and control it using a voice command.

Your home eco-system is a way to gel all your devices together, so it is important to consider compatibility and the features the devices have to offer.

Eco-system compatibility comes down to which one you prefer; Google Assistant or Alexa. Alexa is considered the best bet when it comes to artificial intelligence, but Google isn’t exactly lagging either.

A unique selling point with Google is its utilisation of cloud-based storage, which helps to create a more personalised experience for the user. 

 

Battery life

Many speakers can be used without being plugged in, yet the battery life from brand to brand can vary greatly. Some can sustain usage for up to 10 hours, while others can go to 15, even 16 hours with a single charge. Where and how you will use your smart speaker might trump sound quality for example, if battery life is important to you. 

Ease of use

Some smart speakers are controlled via a voice assistant, others use an app to direct commands to the speaker. Again, it comes down to personal preference, but if you’re a bit of a cook those voice commands are going to come in handy if your hands are covered in flour or marinade!

Audio 

What’s the point in having speakers that have poor quality sound? The good news is, there aren’t many subpar speakers out there, thanks to rapid advancements in technology, but that doesn’t mean to say that all smart speakers sound the same – they don’t. So if music is your ‘thing’ go and listen to the speaker output in your local department store before you buy. 

Cross-platform controls

Will you require speakers that can be used with more than one voice assistant, such as Alexa and Google Assistant? Some speakers are able to switch from one platform to another making life feel seamless and hassle-free. Check in advance if you have a mix of technology at home.

Budget

How much you are willing to spend is likely to be one of your most significant considerations. Look for feature to cost ratio. Thankfully, there are a lot of affordable smart speakers on the market. For extra crisp audio quality you may have to go to the top end of your budget. 

Protect Your Smart Home With Boundary Today

Boundary is a leading supplier of wireless home security systems including a police response alarm. Why not discover how to protect your smart home – for much less than you might think?