Best Smart Speakers of this year

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This post was originally published June 10, 2018 and has been completely revamped for fresh material on May 10, 2020.

We are now onto ‘Generation 2, and Generation 3‘ of most Amazon Echo Smart Speakers.

They produce better sound, they have a lot more programmed into them, and they are finally more secure.

Whether you want to watch the Food Network while cooking in the kitchen, or are looking for a gift for Fathers Day coming up, we got you covered.

Best Smart Speakers of 2020

Smart devices are suddenly everywhere!  Smart Homes, Smart Speakers, Smartwatches, Smart DoorbellsSmart TV’s and so much more. In this article, we will take a look at the Best Smart Speakers of 2020.

There’s a good chance you are looking to either purchase your first one, or upgrade to a newer one. To simplify the process for you, we reviewed the Best Smart Speakers of this year.

Smart speakers have evolved from what they began as, and are now used to watch cooking videos and learn recipes in the kitchen, turn on your coffee maker, read you a book or even change the channel on your TV.  Adults love them, kids love them, you get the picture.

We found the best smart speaker of 2020 to be the Amazon Echo Show 8.   I waited until the 2nd generation came out because I was not quite sold on having a smart speaker.

Previously, I had been a little disappointed with last generations sound quality, but when I made the purchase, I was pleasantly surprised.  The Echo Show 8 was a perfect size to keep in my kitchen or by my desk.

I decided to start the reviews again. This all-new Echo is more attractive, and less expensive than past years, which helped my decision making process! 

Although I loved the Amazon Echo 8, I found the Echo Dot (3rd Generation) to be an irresistable gift at $29.99.  And I couldn’t write this without mentioning the original Amazon Echo (now 3rd generation)

The Amazon Echo (3rd generation) Amazon Echo wins our pick for best smart speaker this year, is smaller and more stylish than the original, and its outer skin can be swapped out for different colors and textures.  Echo connects to Alexa to play music, make calls, set music alarms and timers, ask questions, control smart home devices, and more—instantly. 

Importantly, the Amazon Echo 3rd Generation is designed to protect your privacy.  Rumors of the past had caught up with Amazon, and we see an evolution of what we needed in the first place.   A microphone off button that disconnects the mics.

Amazon Echo Generation 3 is one of the best gifts you can give to a friend or loved one. It is also one of the top smart speakers.

For the price of under $100, with the addition of some amazing speaker technology and the constant updating of the Alexa programming, the Amazon Echo (Generation 3) speaker has it all!  It was easy to pick this speaker as the best smart speaker on the market.  

The Third-Generation Echo Dot also made the list of best smart speakers this year.  The Echo Dot is the least expensive way to get Alexa into your home. As a smaller version than the Echo, it is still a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information, read the news, set music alarms, read audiobooks from Audible, control Amazon Video on Fire TV, and so much more.   The Echo Dot has both Bluetooth and a 3.5mm jack, so you can connect it to a better-sounding speaker, which we recommend you do if you’re planning to use it to play music.

Similar to the Amazon Echo, the Echo Dot less expensive, and is ideal for places where you want Alexa, (such as a kitchen, dining room, office desk etc.), but don’t want another large device cluttering the space.

Sonos has created another great sounding speaker with the Sonos One – Generation 2, with Alexa.  Sonos One Generation 2 has voice control features of Alexa built right in.  This made our list of Best Smart Speakers of the year, as it was the best sounding.  Having created the Play:1, and the Sonos 1, a hugely popular and great sounding speaker, the company looks to expand, and with Alexa’s voice control, has created one of the best sounding Smart Speakers on the market.

This is a music speaker first, delivering terrific wireless sound, bluetooth capabilities, and an app made by Sonos that allows users to easily become their own DJ, or let anyone else at the party connect to it.

With the addition of Alexa, Sonos One can connect to your other smart devices, answers questions, performs calculations, sets reminders and timers, and will give you news briefings on your favorite subjects.

There are limitations, however.  You cannot change the code word Alexa, there is no support for voice calling at this time, and there are no notifications, or ebooks.  There is no way to set up multi room audio either.

Sonos One Generation 2 wins for Best Smart Speakers of the year, with Best Sound. We weren't suprised, as Sonos One has continuously

However, because of the fact that we liked the sound of this speaker so much, this goes directly to the top of the lists, and for those willing to pay the price, this speaker is sure to entertain!

The new Echo Show 8 is one of Amazons latest projects that now include a screen with video capabilities.  Speakers like the Echo and Echo Dot are voice-only, but Alexa can display visual information on request when in a device connected to a screen, like the Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Prime Video.

Another winner in our category for Best Smart Speaker of 2020, the first Alexa-specific Echo Show Generation 2 with a screen, the $229.99 Echo Show Generation-2 (now on sale for $179.99) combines the voice assistant features of the Amazon Echo with a 7-inch touch screen and a 5-megapixel camera.  This adds more functionality like viewing the weather or your calender in big, bold letters, as well as video calling “Drop Ins” to other Echo Devices.  The display can be customized, act like a picture frame, and has more app development under way. Although the video capability has definitely touched on a key improvement, there is still room for improvement as a question arises “Is the addition of a display worth the increase in price over voice-only alternatives?

Amazon Echo Show 8 is added as the latest additions to Amazons Smart Speakers with displays. With a 10.1 inch screen, it is larger than the Amazon Echo Show 5, and much sleeker.

Since a lot of people use smart displays when cooking, Amazon announced that it’s the “exclusive voice service” partner for Food Network’s just-launched paid video subscription service, Food Network Kitchen. “Customers will be able to watch live and on-demand episodes of Food Network TV shows on Echo Show – and when they see a recipe they like, they can just ask Alexa to save that recipe,” Amazon said.

The Google Home speaker is more attractive, and sounds better than, the Echo. Take your pick from six colors and two finishes for the base (fabric or metal). At $129, it’s slightly more expensive than the Echo.  On the plus side, you can use Google Home to control Chromecast-enabled devices, such as TVs.  Alexa can’t do that.

However, in a face-off between the two assistants, we found Amazon’s to be more well-rounded than Google’s.  Although we did not want to count out this Google Home, as overall it is a really good product.   Therefor we gave it a home on our list of Best Smart Speakers on the market.

The company also introduced new software features, including “drop in on all,” which can immediately start a group video / audio chat with everyone in your family that owns an Echo device. FreeTime, Amazon’s bundle of content and games meant for children, is coming to Echo Show devices.

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