Posted on 7 June 2022
The Echo Dot 4 is, in our opinion, an excellent solution for anyone looking for an affordable but effective speaker, both for creating a home automation system and for enjoying background music. Its attractive design, combined with its careful finishing and its finally relevant audio rendering make it, in our eyes, the most interesting model of the moment. However, it is important to bear in mind that the musical rendering is not perfect, with a loss of dynamics and bass above 85% of the volume.
There are many different kinds of smart speakers for a variety of uses.
Each voice assistant is part of its own ecosystem with different possibilities in each.
The speakers are available in different sizes and shapes.
It may be convenient to have physical controls on your speaker.
When choosing, it is necessary to pay attention to the effectiveness of voice recognition.
Whether for voice feedback or for listening to music, the sound should be as good as possible.
Additional functions are the last criterion of distinction between several speakers.
A true hi-fi speaker, this impressive model has the advantage of being connected to either Alexa or Google Assistant. Thanks to a single physical button, it has responsive and intuitive touch controls. Not only does it offer powerful multiroom solutions, but this new generation is now compatible with the music streaming giants (Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Google Play music… but not YouTube). Unsurprisingly, music is greatly enhanced by the audio quality of this speaker. It is also compatible with some other Sonos devices.
|Our choice, Best budget||Best high-end|
|Amazon Echo Dot 4||Sonos One|
|The 4th generation of Amazon's small speaker finally manages to keep up with the competition in terms of audio, allowing it to retain the title of entry-level reference.||With an excellent voice recognition and audio quality, this is the only smart speaker in our selection to offer Alexa AND the Google Assistant. Plus, it integrates various music platforms.|
Google Nest Mini (£24.99 upon publication): efficient but without a jack. Made from recycled materials, this model is clearly environmentally friendly. This is a good point, as is the ability of the volume to adapt to the ambient noise. Compatible with Google Assistant, it also benefits from a powerful voice recognition, thanks to the presence of a long-distance microphone. While we regret the lack of a 3.5mm mini jack, we cannot help but acknowledge its sound quality.
Amazon Echo (4th gen) (£79.99 upon publication): finally relevant although slightly behind the competition. With this 4ᵉ generation, Amazon manages to make its Echo relevant on the market. For the occasion, the design is completely redesigned, allowing it to fit discreetly into your home. It retains its effective voice assistant and comes close to the level of the competition in audio. However, you will have to go through the settings to get the most out of it and avoid forcing the volume too much, otherwise you will lose precision and quality of sound.
Amazon Echo Studio (£189.99 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…
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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, it is essential that they are 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 a 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.
Translated by Aylin Akturk