Updated on 5 May 2023
The successor to the Google Home copies everything good about its predecessor and brings a touch of freshness to the Made In Google speaker. In addition to its elegant design, it features an ergonomic touch surface as well as excellent sound reproduction, largely made possible by its two integrated speakers. These features, together with the quality of the voice recognition, make it a highly competitive model.
There are many different types of connected speakers for many different uses.
Each voice assistant has its ecosystem.
Speakers come in different sizes and shapes.
Physical buttons can be very handy.
When choosing, it is necessary to pay attention to the efficiency of the voice recognition.
Whether it is a voice assistant or music, the sound should be as good as possible.
The choice of speaker should be based on the user's needs.
Made from recycled materials, it has a ball-shaped design similar to the last generation but still looks attractive and neat. Alexa is as reliable and interesting as ever. In terms of new features, we highlight its improved sound quality, although it’s still far from the best (especially at higher volumes). Coupled with another Echo Dot, it is even better in stereo. Again, there are a variety of settings and functions, including a temperature sensor. The microphone can also be deactivated. What did we like the least? The brand’s decision to remove the plug and the lack of Zigbee compatibility (speaker control with other connected devices). Finally, if you are interested, there is also a version with a clock.
This compact connected speaker has two tweeters, one stereo mid-woofer, and an extended woofer that delivers clear, faithful sound with excellent bass, and enough power to cover an entire room. In terms of connectivity, it features Wi-Fi 6 / Bluetooth 5.0, as well as Apple’s Wi-Fi Airplay 2 protocol for sharing content from an Apple device to a TV. It also has a USB-C port for connecting external sources and can be paired with a soundbar or other speaker. While it works with Alexa and Sonos Voice, it does not support Google Assistant. Despite this, the controls are simple to use. Among its other strengths, what stands out the most is its extensive support for streaming audio services.
This second 2nd generation of Google’s mini speaker has some interesting new features, such as its recycled plastic design. It is compatible with Google Assistant, and also has a powerful voice recognition system, thanks to the presence of a long-distance microphone. While we regret the lack of a 3.5mm mini jack, we can’t help but appreciate its sound quality and the volume’s ability to adapt to ambient noise when the speaker is in voice streaming mode. In our tests, although it is less powerful than the standard version, it still has decent sound quality and good speech recognition. We recommend it for more occasional use.
This smart speaker from Apple is both stylish and powerful. It offers a wide range of features for lovers of Apple products, but its compatibility is limited to the brand’s devices and voice assistants. Its connectivity options are also sparse, with only a jack and Bluetooth connectivity. In our test, we found the audio to be excellent, with clear, balanced, powerful 360-degree sound and generous bass. Among its options, it works as a HomeKit platform to manage home automation and can be paired in stereo.
For the Echo Show 10, Amazon further improves its sound performance to keep its excellent speaker among the best on the market. It has a larger, higher quality 10.1″ screen, ideal for video calls or watching video content on Netflix. It also has an intelligent rotating system that follows you as you move, so it’s always facing you. Another advantage of this model is that it has home security features such as Alexa Guard (and its subscription-based Plus version). Other options include Zigbee, a communication protocol for home automation, and the new video-on-demand platforms. Still, it is far from the best for video content. Finally, it is a rather bulky device compared to others.
Our choice, Best mid-range Best budget Best high-end Budget alternative Mid-range alternative High end alternative Google Nest Audio Amazon Echo Dot 5 Sonos Era 100 Google Nest Mini Apple HomePod Mini Amazon Echo Show 10 With the best price/performance ratio, this speaker with Google Assistant impresses with its complete ecosystem. The voice recognition is good, and the sound quality is excellent. This affordable speaker offers one of the best value for money. Thoughtful design, Alexa voice control and a range of options are its strong points. Despite its higher price, it offers excellent sound performance and compatibility with multiple audio streaming platforms. Made from recycled materials, this model is environmentally friendly. In addition, it offers the ability to adapt to ambient noise. The Apple mini smart speaker is a model with a high quality of detail and a carefully crafted sound. Please note that it only works with Apple devices. It is Amazon's most advanced and intelligent speaker. Its screen rotation system, home security functions and audio features are its main assets.
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How did we do the tests?
To test the speakers, we first evaluated their design and robustness in everyday use. This also allowed us to assess their speech recognition and physical control. Of course, audio quality was an important part of our tests (sound clarity, power, bass, treble).
Finally, we took a look at its application to check its intuitiveness and practicality. We also thought it would be interesting to check its compatibility with various intelligent systems as far as possible.
How to choose your smart speaker?
Although they have been invading our homes since 2015, smart speakers are still too little known to a large section of the public, as we are often unaware of what these little “gadgets” can bring to our daily lives, thanks to their few specific features.
Therefore, if you want to choose your smart speaker, you should consider different factors:
- Integrated voice assistant: whether it is Alexa (Amazon), Google Assistant, Cortana (Microsoft) or Siri (Apple), each assistant is part of its own ecosystem, on which many parameters depend, such as the degree of personalisation (Siri and Cortana can only save one user profile, for example), the lists and clocks proposed, or the type of connection possible with all your intelligent devices (from your TV to your light bulbs and LED ribbons, and even your smoke detector or thermostat). So make sure to check every possibility offered by the chosen assistant.
- Design: as they are intended to be an integral part of your home, you should not overlook their appearance, especially if you opt for speakers other than the mini format.
- Resistance: depending on the room where you want to place it and how you want to be able to move it, you should check the general resistance of the speaker as well as possible IP certifications (essential in a bathroom, for example).
- Ergonomics: as these home speakers are designed to make your life easier, they must be easy to install and have comprehensive and intuitive controls. Connectivity is also important, as it ensures the versatility of your speaker (does it work on battery or mains? Is there an audio jack to connect it to headphones or another speaker?).
- Voice recognition: not all speakers respond in the same way depending on the distance from which you are giving commands, the ambient noise or even, sometimes, your voice type (high or low). It is important to consider the capabilities of your future speaker in this area.
- Audio quality: each speaker must, at the very least, offer clear and intelligible voice assistance. But while some are only intended to serve as a bridge between the user and the voice assistant, others are intended for musical listening. Particular attention must then be paid to the quality of the integrated speakers.
- Additional functions: what makes the difference are the additional services offered by your speaker, such as music streaming and control of smart objects. Hence the need to check the compatibility of each component.
Other models we recommend
Amazon Echo (4th gen) (£79.99 upon publication): finally relevant although slightly behind the competition. With this 4th generation, Amazon has managed to make the Echo relevant in the market. The design has been completely reworked for the occasion so that it can fit discreetly into your home. It retains its effective voice assistant and comes close to the competition in terms of audio quality. However, to get the most out of it, you will need to play around with the settings and avoid pushing the volume too hard, as you will lose precision and sound quality.
Amazon Echo Studio (£219.99 upon publication): promising on paper, perfectible in reality. While this speaker has nothing but positives on paper (acoustically responsive volume adjustment, data-protecting design, and Dolby Atmos technology), users have noted a few drawbacks. Not only is the pairing with the Fire Tv Stick 4k poor, but Alexa seems to perform less well than on lower-end models…
Other models tested
Xiaomi Mi Smart (£36.99 upon publication): It is a great alternative to Google’s smart models. Its affordable price allows it to compete with the similarly priced Nest Mini. However, you will need to find a place for this “little giant” as it is quite bulky.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (£59.99 upon publication): This smart speaker with a screen is one of the most popular on the market, alongside the Google Nest Hub. It is certainly an excellent night-time companion, but it is less useful in other rooms, mainly because its screen is too small to enjoy services such as Prime Video or BFM TV.
Sonos Roam (£179.00 upon publication): This model has all the sophistication of a wired speaker but is still portable enough to be interesting. You’ll have to put up with average to poor battery life, though, and think about using the settings to get the most out of its performance.
Google Nest Max (no longer in production): This large connected speaker can also be used as a soundbar. In our tests, it proved to have a very good sound quality, as well as allowing us to raise the volume to an impressive level. However, the voice recognition function needs to be improved…
Translated by Ramsés El Hajje