Amazon connects to Alexa
If you are not involved in music, Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (4th Generation) and Google Nest Mini (7/10, recommended by WIRED) will give you most of the advantages of having a smart speaker, and you can use it to make existing speakers affordable.
The sound is very similar between the models, and they have almost identical footprints, so you can easily argue that they are better than each other based on the ecosystem. That’s why we preferred the Nest Mini, but now that Amazon has added a simple watch to the front of the Echo Dot, we like the Alexa-powered option a little better.
The small screen in Echo Dot With Clock comes in handy. The timer will tell you when the kitchen will expire or when the alarm is set in the morning. Of course, it also says time. This makes it a better bedroom and kitchen assistant. You can also ask the weather, answer random questions, and play the white noise during sleep to help you fall asleep. Also, the smart assistant introduces you to an easy way to get into places that don’t normally listen to music in your home.
Another alternative: The Nest Mini ($ 49) This is a great mini speaker if you prefer Google Assistant.
Connects to Google Assistant or Alexa
Sonos Roam Snacks (9/10, recommended by WIRED) has become our favorite portable speaker. I (Parker) have taken it on road trips, outdoor weddings, and bike rides. The Sonos ecosystem that can be used works with Google Assistant and Alexa, and the speakerphone has Bluetooth when you’re out of the Wi-Fi hotspot. It also includes wireless charging, which is the perfect speaker to place at home between outdoor trips.
You’ll hear 10 hours of full charge at medium volume, and it’s a rough thing; The IP67 rating can last up to 3 meters in water for 30 minutes. I’m not easy with speakers, and our review unit is still going strong. If you’re looking for an outdoor game, buy one of these and store it inside a stainless steel bowl. You just have to have a drink on the way.
Another alternative: The Sonos Move ($ 399) It’s also a great mini speaker, and it looks bolder, but it’s much heavier (and wasteful).
There are smart speakers. Here are some others we like: