Smart Speaker Comparison
If you’ve started researching smart speakers, you’ve certainly come across Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Google Home.
Since its release in 2015, Amazon Echo has continued to dominate the market, followed by Google Home. With the popularity of smart home speakers continuing to grow with over 25% of U.S. adults now owning one. This breaks down to 66.4 million users in the U.S. alone. And according to Global Market Insights, the smart speaker market size is projected to rise to $30 billion by 2024.
So, which smart speaker is best for you? What are the commonalities and differences between the various brands? We’ve compared the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Google Home to help provide you with the details to make an informed decision prior to purchasing a smart speaker.
|Spec||Amazon Echo (2nd Gen)||Apple HomePod||Google Home|
|Dimensions||5.8"H x 3.4"W x 3.4"D||6.8"H x 5.6"W x 5.6"D||3.79"DIA x 5.62"H|
|Weight||29.0 oz||88 oz||16.8 oz|
|Colors||Charcoal/Heather Gray/Sandstone (Fabric)||Space Gray/White||White with Copper/Carbon (Metal), Mango/Coral/Marine/Violet (Fabric)|
Amazon Echo (2nd Gen)
What We Like:
✔ Smart Device Connectivity
Amazon Echo (1st Generation) first hit the U.S. market in 2015. Since its release, Amazon has added more devices to its product line, including the Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, Echo Show, Echo Input, and the Echo Sub. Each Echo device utilizes Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled personal assistant. Easily and conveniently ask Alexa to play music, answer a question, check the weather, set alarms, control compatible smart home devices, play podcasts, make a phone call, and more.
Whether you are playing music via Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Sirius XM, or other streaming providers, Echo’s speaker features Dolby processing with a 2.5” downward-firing woofer and a 0.6” tweeter. And, with Echo’s multi-room music capabilities, Alexa can play music on any compatible Echo device. Simply ask Alexa to “play 90’s hits on Pandora in the living room” or “play Led Zepplin in office”.
Amazon Echo’s biggest selling point – in my opinion – is its robust set of skills. Alexa has tens of thousands of skills, a list that is being added to quickly. Some of my favorite skills include, “Alexa, play NPR”, “Alexa, find my phone”, and “Alexa, let’s play Twister”. And – depending on how tech-savvy you are – you can also create your own skills and custom responses with Alexa skills blueprints.
Images courtesy of Amazon.com
It should come as no surprise that Alexa can shop on Amazon for you. After all, why wouldn’t Amazon want you to order a bunch of products on a whim? To me, this skill is a little unpolished. As a bargain shopper, I always want to know that I have found the best deal, especially on a site like Amazon where thousands of resellers are competing with one another on pricing. While pricing is a huge concern for me, I do not believe it is a top priority for Alexa.
Echo Plus (2nd Gen)
Amazon Echo Plus has a lot of the same features as the Echo with the addition of a temperature sensor, built-in Zigbee smart home hub, audio input or output, and premium speakers. Echo Plus automatically detects and connects to your smart lights, locks, plugs, and sensors easing potential setup frustrations.
Image courtesy of Amazon.com
What We Like:
✔ Speaker Quality
✔ Simple Set Up
Collectively with Siri and Apple Music, the Apple HomePod creates a completely new way to discover and interact with music at home. At a mere 7” tall, the rich, the HomePod is discreet and aesthetically pleasing with a surprisingly powerful and rich sound that you wouldn’t expect out of such a compact speaker. The quality of sound you get from Apple HomePod certainly has the upper-hand over Amazon and Google, but it also has the price tag to match.
Setting up HomePod is quick and simple. It’s as easy as plugging in the device and your iOS device will automatically locate and connect to your HomePod.
Image courtesy of Apple.com
What We Like:
✔ Speaker Quality
✔ Integration with Google Products
✔ Color Options
Google Home always seems to be playing a game of catch up to Amazon. While it is made significant improvements since its debut in 2016, it still seems to have a few shortcomings. Google Home currently doesn’t have the same level of skills as Amazon and doesn’t pair with as many smart devices.
Similar to Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home utilizes Google Assistant technology. With Google Assistant you can ask questions, play songs, enjoy entertainment and control your smart home without having to lift a finger. Google Home pairs with over 5,000 smart home devices from over 150 brands giving you complete voice-control over your home’s technology. Control your home’s lighting, temperature, security, appliances, locks, media, and more with Google Home.
Like Amazon, one of the benefits of using a Google product is its integration with other Google products. Google Home seamlessly integrates with Google Chromecast letting you stream thousands of shows and movies from your favorite streaming apps. You can also pair your home’s Nest camera with Home and Chromecast letting you view security footage on the convenience of your TV screen.
Images courtesy of Google.com
Google Home is available in four separate colors. Whether you want Home to blend in with your existing room design or add a pop of color, Home has the perfect color. Plus, you aren’t committed to your initial color choice. Google Home’s colored mesh bottom can easily be swapped out as your preferences change.
Our Smart Speaker Honorable Mentions
Included in this article were three of the most popular and widely used smart speaker brands. That’s not to say they are the only options out there or even the best options for that matter. Unlike the aforementioned smart speaker brands, our honorable mentions are speaker brands that have partnered with Amazon or Google to integrate voice-control capabilities. These speakers tend to run a little more on the expensive side, but they have the speaker quality to back the price.
Amazon Alexa Integration
Sonos One (2nd Gen) – The Sonos One speaker ($199) combines the high-quality sound of Sonos with the voice-control technology of Amazon Alexa. Speakers can be easily paired for multi-room stereo connectivity or combined with the Playbar, Playbase, or Beam at the back of your home theater.
Sonos Beam – Like the Sonos One, the Beam unifies the Sonos sound with the smart capabilities of Alexa. Beam seamlessly connects with you TV, delivering Oscar-quality sound to emphasize the sound of the human voice.
Bose Home Speaker 500 – The Bose Home Speaker is a bit more unique than the other speakers on this list. At $399, the robust, wall-to-wall speaker sound is coupled with both built-in Alexa and Google Assistant. And, in addition to its voice-control capabilities, music can be controlled with the top controls or the Bose Music app.
Polk Command Bar – The Command Bar unifies quality with the smart home control of Amazon Alexa. Easily control your lights, thermostat, garage door, sprinklers, locks, and more with the Command Bar smart speaker. Plus, with the included subwoofer, the Command Bar is a great bargain for the price at only $299.
Google Assistant Integration
JBL Link View – Superior JBL sound coupled with the intelligence of Google Assistant displayed on an 8” HD touch screen. Ask questions, create lists, play music, control lights, or place a phone call all from the JBL Link View. A similar product to the Echo Show, the Link View will set you back $250, just a mere $20 more than the Echo Show.
Sony LF-S50G – The Sony smart speaker integrates the professional-quality sound of Sony with the powerful control of Google Assistant. S50G's 360º speaker system features touch-free gesture control, task management, Google search capabilities, audio networking, smart device control, and more all for the low price of $199.99.