2017 has been the year of smart speakers. Whether it's Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana or Amazon's Alexa, they all have plenty of speakers that have their personal assistants built-in, making it easy for you to choose the right speaker for you to upgrade your home's audio. Though, some are going to be wondering why they need to get a smart speaker, and why they can't just stick with a regular speaker that they've been using. Well there are a number of reasons, but the biggest one is going to be better audio.
Play Music Using Your Voice
Whether it's Alexa, Cortana or Google Assistant, all three can play music from a voice command. You can tell Alexa to play some Christmas music from your favorite streaming service. Or ask Google Assistant to play that Christmas song by Mariah Carey and it'll know exactly which one to play. Obviously, you can still go ahead and open up your phone and choose music from there to play, but this makes things so much easier, especially if you are busy and want to get some music going while you're cooking, or maybe doing some chores around the house.
Since these are smart speakers, you can also ask these personal assistants a load of different questions. Like "Who sings Starboy?" or something similar, if you are wondering who sings a particular song. You can also go a bit further and find out how old they are, where they are from and basically anything else about them. Now some of these assistants do this better than others, for instance, Google can answer virtually any question you throw at it, and that's because it has the power of its own search engine behind it, while Alexa doesn't.
WiFi vs Bluetooth Streaming
Even if you aren't interested in getting a smart speaker for the sheer value of a personal assistant, streaming over WiFi should be enough to make you pull the trigger. Many speakers stream over Bluetooth, which is fine. But there are some disadvantages to using Bluetooth. For instance, Bluetooth can sometimes have quite a bit of lag, it also compress music files, due to the bandwidth limits it has. This isn't an issue when it comes to WiFi. So you can play higher-resolution audio when streaming over WiFi, there's also less and in most cases, no lag. Finally, WiFi has more range than Bluetooth. typically Bluetooth is around 60-feet, while WiFi is closer to around 150-200-feet depending on the speaker. On top of that, the speaker doesn't need to be connected to your phone to play music. So you aren't draining the battery on your phone while you are streaming music at your desk or in the living room.
WiFi streaming for music and other audio isn't actually new, but it is gaining momentum as of late. With more and more manufacturers moving over to either doing both Bluetooth and WiFi or just WiFi like Sonos. It offers up a better experience which is what these companies are aiming for anyways. You also don't have to worry about connecting to the speaker when you want to stream music, as you can just select a song and it'll start playing – alternatively, if it has a personal assistant inside, you can say "OK Google, play holiday music from Google Play Music" and be good to go.
Better Audio For All
These smart speakers are providing even better audio than the previous Bluetooth speakers, and while that does partially depend on the previous point about moving to WiFi, it's also because there are better tweeters and woofers inside these speakers. Which output better sound, and louder audio. Since the majority of these smart speakers are not portable, there's no battery inside, which gives the manufacturer more room to put in better internals and get better audio out of these speakers. For instance, the Sony LF-S50G. It's not a large speaker, but since it doesn't have a battery inside, it makes it easier for Sony to put in more tweeters and woofers, and output better sound. This is also the case for the Harman Kardon Invoke that has Cortana built in. So basically, if you are looking for a speaker that has better audio quality, you are likely going to have to pick up a smart speaker this holiday season.
Whether you are splurging and getting a new speaker for yourself, or for someone else on your list this holiday season, there are a number of reasons to grab a smart speaker. Of course, the biggest one being the fact that it'll have a personal assistant inside. And whether you're getting one with a more advanced assistant like Alexa, or something that needs some work like Cortana, you can rest assured that it'll get better. As these assistants do get updates over-the-air using WiFi, so that companies are able to push out updates easier and make these assistants smarter without the user even knowing anything has changed. And the points about WiFi streaming for music is definitely important, especially for anyone who is looking to get the best audio from their speaker. Since WiFi has more bandwidth it can do high-resolution audio better than Bluetooth, and you will notice the difference.
Having said that, there are a ton of great smart speakers you can pick up this holiday season. One of the favorites is going to be the Sonos One, which is Sonos newest speaker and it has Alexa built-in. So it works a lot like an Echo, as a hub for your smart home and such. Then there is also the UE BLAST and MEGABLAST speakers that also work as an Echo, but these are portable, and also cost a bit more than the Sonos One, but are definitely worth picking up if you want to take Alexa on the road with you – these are also waterproof. On the Google Assistant side of things, there are a couple of good ones to take a look at. The JBL LINK 10, 20 and 300 are all great ones to check out. The LINK 10 and 20 are portable speakers with Assistant, while the LINK 300 is not portable, but outputs a ton of sound. There's also the Sony LF-S50G, which provides a great looking speaker, with great audio and Google Assistant functionality. You honestly can't go wrong picking up any of these this holiday season.