Connects to Amazon Alexa
If you are not involved in the music, the file Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (4th Gen) and google live mini (7/10, WIRED RECOMMENDIt will give you most of the advantages of owning a smart speaker, and you can use it to spice up your existing speakers on the cheap.
The sound is very similar between the models, and they have nearly identical footprints, so you can easily make an argument that one is better than the other based on the ecosystem alone. We used to prefer the Nest Mini for this reason, 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 on the Echo Dot With Clock is easy to use. It can tell you when your timers in the kitchen expire or when your alarm is set for morning. Of course, time tells us, too. This makes it a better companion in the bedroom and kitchen. You can also ask her about the weather, have her answer your random questions, and play white noise at bedtime to help you fall asleep. It also offers an easy way to have a smart assistant in the places in your home where you don’t normally listen to music.
Another alternative: The Nest Mini ($49) It’s also a great little speaker if you prefer the Google Assistant.
Connects to Google Assistant or Alexa
Pint Sonos Roam (9/10, WIRED RECOMMENDIt has become our new favorite portable speaker. I’ve taken her (Parker) on road trips, outdoor weddings, and in my bike basket. The easy-to-use Sonos ecosystem works with Google Assistant and Alexa, and the speakerphone is Bluetooth enabled when you’re out of Wi-Fi range. It even includes wireless charging, making it the perfect speaker for sitting around the house between outdoor trips.
You’ll get 10 hours of listening on a full charge and at medium volume, and the thing is hard; The IP67 rating means it can survive in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. I’m not easy on the speakers, and our review unit is still going strong. If you are looking for a great toy, buy one of these and store it inside a stainless steel mug. Just have a drink along the way.
Another alternative: The Sonos Move ($399) It’s also a great little speaker, and it sounds a lot bolder, but it’s a lot more sophisticated (and spending).
There are a lot of smart speakers. Here are some other things we love: