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Hello and welcome to our guide to the best smart speakers!
Smart speakers are the new frontier of home automation and they can’t miss in a modern home like yours! This is why our editorial team has decided to investigate with you the possible uses of the best smart speakers.
If there is an article that has been at the top of many sales charts lately, it is the smart speakers.
Many of us in fact already own one, and many others are thinking of buying one. It is almost impossible that you have never heard of the smart speakers, unless you live on Mars!
Let’s then see in detail the technical features of these devices!
Features of the Best Smart Speakers
Domotics is the automation of certain home features.
The possibility of giving voice commands to a device equipped with artificial intelligence was, until recently, something that we saw only in science fiction films.
Even if in the last few years we had read articles or watched movies on such devices, it was still things out of reach for most of us.
Some of the factors that have contributed to the spread of smart speakers in our homes are:
- the evolution of Artificial Intelligence
- the spread of broadband internet
- the offer at competitive prices
For example, the Amazon smart speakers are able to switch smart bulbs on and off. But the range of compatible devices goes far beyond smart bulbs! Via smart switches and smart sockets (that connect to your home Wi-Fi) you can give voice commands to turn your appliances on or off.
In this way you can create a real ecosystem by automating various aspects of your home.
How Much Do Smart Speakers Cost?
An important factor in the spread that smart speakers are having is the price level at which they are offered.
Those cheaper are in fact available at the cost of some tens of dollars. And if you choose the best brands, you will still purchase a top quality product!
An entry level price like this gives the possibility to use these products even to those who are not willing to spend higher amounts to purchase a smart speaker.
What Are Smart Speakers For?
From the technical point of view the best smart speakers are speakers connected to your home WI-FI network.
They are equipped with one or more microphones to listen to the given voice commands. As I told you, it is now possible to communicate with these devices by speaking human language … just as if you were talking to a friend of yours!
The smart device is always listening, ready to accept any of your commands.
Some have even defined them as little electronic butlers!
The best smart speakers can do a lot of tasks, and it’s impossible to list them all. But we want to see, by way of example, some tasks that they can perform for you:
- play music
- answer questions (“How long does it take to drive to work?”, “When was Elvis Presley born?”)
- read the news online
- access weather forecasts (“What will the weather be like tomorrow in Miami?”)
- call friends and relatives (“Call Mom!”)
- remotely control many Smart Home Devices. For example, if you purchase compatible lamps, you can order the smart speaker to turn the light on or off, or even adjust the intensity of the light if your lamp allows it.
In general, you should try to identify the main use you intend to make of your new smart speaker. To summarize some of the most common uses:
- home automation and integration with other devices
- request for information
- listening to music
How Does Voice Assistant Work?
Each smart speaker has a built-in voice assistant.
Amazon’s smart devices are equipped with Alexa. When issuing commands to the Amazon device, you will then need to call Alexa by name. For example, saying “Alexa, read the cheesecake recipe!“
The voice assistant represents the Artificial Intelligence of the device.
The level of Artificial Intelligence achieved by the best smart speakers is surprising! To the point that at times we may have the impression of talking to a human being!
Other times, of course, the response we get can be not so natural, but certainly in the near future we will see a further improvement in the way smart speakers give answers.
What Are the Best Smart Speakers?
How to Choose the Best Smart Speakers?
When you are about to purchase a smart speaker, you need to consider these aspects:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Audio Quality
- Value for Money
Best Smart Speakers: Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The heart of each smart speaker is the Artificial Intelligence that governs it.
In the case of Amazon Echo we talk about the famous Alexa Voice Service. Alexa will become your voice assistant, at your disposal at all times. Alexa is smart and fast!
Let’s take some examples to better understand what you can ask Alexa for!
Do you want to listen to some music? Just say “Alexa, play relaxing music!“.
Do you want to call someone? “Alexa, call grandma please!“
Want to watch TV? “Alexa, turn on the TV.“
Alexa becomes more and more intelligent and continuously learns new things, updating automatically through the cloud and adding new features.
And if that’s not enough there are also the Skills to install. They are like apps that allow you to expand your speaker and do many more things, like cooking a tasty recipe, knowing what’s on TV, having fun with lots of games and much more.
What Does Smart Speakers Audio Quality Depend on?
Like we said, smart speakers can play music and therefore it is important for them to have a good audio quality.
When you are about to buy a smart speaker, you need to think about the type of use you will make of it. In case one of your main purposes is to listen to music for a long time and with good sound fidelity, then you should consider choosing a model that has a high quality frequency response.
Audio fidelity of these devices depends mainly on the quality and size of their audio driver. Larger speakers can house larger and therefore better sound drivers. Obviously, the better the audio driver, the higher the cost of the speaker. If you want to learn more about audio quality, you can find a lot of userful information in this article on audio headphones.
If you are about to purchase an entry-level (thus not too expensive) smart speaker to listen to music, know that you can connect your new device to a third party speaker for best sound output. This connection can be made, depending on the models, either by cable or via Bluetooth.
In short, what we have understood is that not all models are the same, and to summarize we can distinguish between:
- more compact and (usually) cheaper smart speakers that have lower sound quality (especially when listening volume increases)
- bigger smart speakers, which allow a higher sound performance thanks to a better audio driver and other features such as a down-firing woofer.
How Many Microphones Do Smart Speakers Have?
Microphone’s another important component we have to know about.
Alexa must always understand your voice commands properly, so that it can best fulfill your requests. Let’s try to think of situations that are very common in our everyday life, for example when you are at home but there are background noises (television in another room, a washing machine in operation, children playing, etc.). Or if you are simply around your house, and the smart speaker is in the room next to yours. Alexa must be able to understand your voice from any direction it comes from, and even in the case where environment is not totally silent.
For this reason there are devices mounting more than one microphone, and each single microphone is ready to listen to your voice commands. As the number of microphones installed on the device increases, the selling price increases.
The microphone quality of the best smart speakers, is such that they can understand you even while you listen to music!