You’ve arrived safely at our best smart speaker buying guide, a carefully curated collection to the very best smart speakers for the home currently on sale in 2019. If you’re hunting for the best Amazon Echo, best Google Home, or best Sonos smart speakers currently going, then you’re in the perfect place.
Since the Amazon Echo first launched, the smart speaker has become one of the indispensable gadgets of the smart home: affordable, intelligent, easy to use, and not a complete eyesore (which is always a bonus).
There are now more smart speakers to choose from than ever in 2019, and chances are you might be able to pick one up at a discount if you keep your eye on the sales. Smart speaker makers are in a race for market share, which can mean some very decent deals for consumers.
Our guide is here to help make choosing the perfect smart speaker for you a whole lot easier – we’ve tested out just about every product on the market and will talk you through the options you’ve got. So, without further delay, here are our picks for the best smart speakers you can buy right now, and why you’d want to have them.
The good news when it comes to choosing the best smart speaker of 2019 is that you’ve got a lot of models to pick from. Your primary considerations are probably going to be the speaker design – how well it fits in with your home decor – and the capabilities of the digital assistant that comes built into the device.
If you’re already firm friends with Google Assistant from your Android smartphone, for example, it might make sense to stick with a Google speaker. Likewise Siri and the HomePod, Alexa and the Amazon Echo, and so on.
Make sure your smart speaker can do everything you need it to (like control your smart lights and work with the apps you use every day). Beyond that, you will of course want to look at the price of each device to help with your decision, and it’s worth having a check to see what accessories are available for each speaker too.
The full-fat, top-of-the-line Amazon Echo with all the bells and whistles is the Plus – essentially, you get better-sounding audio and tighter integration with other smart home kit for another £50/$50. Is the extra price worth paying? For most of you, probably not.
That said, if you want the ultimate Alexa-equipped device and have the budget to match, this is the best smart speaker to go for (and Amazon offers some excellent bundle options on its site). The 2nd-gen model has improved hugely on the looks of the Amazon Echo Plus as well.
For music streaming, the Sonos One is the best smart speaker on the market.
Sonos has been making top-quality wireless speakers for years, capable of streaming tunes from multiple online services and local media libraries all around the home. With the Sonos One, they’ve started adding some AI to the mix – specifically, Amazon Alexa (with Google Assistant on the way).
You get the usual Sonos quality plus the ability to use your voice to change songs (and check the weather and so on). It’s an appealing combination, and the Sonos One is easily one of the best smart speakers around in 2019.
We’re big fans of the Amazon Echo Spot, which takes the considerable smarts of Alexa and adds a dinky little screen. That small display is more useful than you might think in terms of what you can do with it: watching videos, putting up an alarm clock display, and more.
The Echo Spot looks good in any room in your house, which means it can be used as a timer in the kitchen or a video caller in the study. We would put it higher in the list but the display makes it significantly more expensive than alternatives such as the Echo Dot.
Here’s the Apple HomePod, which has a lot going for it: very impressive sound quality, for instance, which can adapt to the room its in to make sure your ears are always hearing your tunes at their best. It also looks and feels fantastic, a proper premium bit of kit.
On the downside, you’re going to be disappointed if you need to go beyond Apple Music, Siri and the iPhone with your HomePod: support for the likes of Spotify or streaming from a Windows laptop or anything else not made by Apple is pretty much non-existent. Still, it’s the best smart speaker for those already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem.
All the smarts of Alexa and all the compactness of a Google Home Mini make the Echo Dot a very appealing option in our best smart speaker 2019 list – especially considering its latest refresh, which gave it a more curved appearance and added some attractive-looking fabric finishes to the Echo Dot mix.
If you’re just getting started with smart speakers then the Echo Dot is an excellent entry point, and unlike the Google Home Mini you can hook up a different speaker with the 3.5mm audio jack or via Bluetooth. At this price you might as well get one for every room.
The second-generation Amazon Echo builds on what made the original so great, and puts it in a more aesthetically appealing form factor – with a choice of finishes, so you can get one to suit your own style. It’s a winning formula, and it puts the Echo top of our list.
Alexa has been around for four years now and continues to get friendlier, cleverer, and generally better with each passing month. The audio output isn’t top-notch, but it’s still fine, and we’re big fans of the price (which is almost a quarter of the price of a HomePod).
The Google Home Mini is one of the best Google Home speakers going.
Amazon Alexa came before Google Assistant, but such is Google’s prowess with AI that it’s Assistant that is generally considered the smartest of the digital assistants out there – at least in terms of understanding natural language and pulling data from the web at large – and that affects your best smart speaker choice.
The AI is enough to get the Google Home Mini up to second in our list: it has an attractive design that fits into just about any room, it has a clean and appealing companion app, and it just works. We would like to have the option to connect it to an external speaker, though.
New to the smart speaker scene – or should that be the smart display scene? – is the Google Home Hub, essentially a Google Home with a tablet attached. It acts as the centre of your smart home operations, controlling other devices and all your Google apps.
So, you can watch YouTube videos, see a slideshow of Google Photos, change the temperature on your Nest thermostat, ask Google a question, and so on and so on. We like the style and feature-set of the Google Home Hub, and there’s no camera to worry about.
The Google Home now looks a little dated, but if you can get it cheap, it is still one of the best smart speakers lining store shelves.
Google gladly name-checked the Amazon Echo when unveiling its very own smart speaker, and the Google Home does everything you would expect – it has the excellent Google Assistant on board of course, which continues to lead the pack of AI apps for the moment.
The Google Home is a little lower in our listings because we think the Google Home Mini is a better value proposition and this speaker is now getting on for a couple of years old. The software keeps getting regular updates though, and it remains a fantastic smart speaker and one of the best Google Home speakers available.
The Amazon Echo Show is pretty easy to explain: an Echo with a screen. That means Alexa can show as well as tell you information about your schedule and the upcoming weather forecast, for example. Video calling and movie watching are easy with the Echo Show too.
There’s a lot to like about the Amazon Echo Show then, especially the redesigned 2nd-gen model, but there are some small reservations. It’s relatively expensive, and support for non-Amazon video services (such as YouTube) remains something of a sore point.
Regardless, though, the Show is absolutely one of the Amazon Echo devices on the market, and also one of the best smart speakers money can buy in 2019.
The ultra-desirable, ultra-stylish Sonos Beam.
The Sonos Beam is another of the newer Sonos speakers with Alexa built in (and with Google Assistant and AirPlay support coming soon, hopefully) – it’s a compact sound bar that can play audio from your television set or from a host of music streaming services.
It’s a hugely impressive bit of kit – don’t let its 11th position on this list fool you – but in terms of smart speakers it’s at the pricier end of the range. Only get this if you have the budget and are going to make full use of all the extra features you get with a Sonos device.
Another smart speaker with a display, the Lenovo Smart Display is available in 8-inch or 10-inch sizes, so take your pick accordingly. It doubles up as a Chromecast, has decent-sounding audio, and can be used as a video calling device too.
With Google Assistant on board, it’s just as smart as any of the best Google Home speakers on the market in 2019, with everything wrapped in a solid and secure device that’s perfect for the study or kitchen.
Google Home Max
Just because the Google Home Max is at the end of our list doesn’t mean you should discount it: this is still a list of the best smart home speakers money can buy, and all these models are worth their place. In this case, you’re getting some fantastic audio quality.
Top-level audio quality, plus the excellent Google Assistant on board, plus the option of a cabled connection, plus casting abilities – what’s not to like? It’ll cost you a lot of money, that’s the key drawback, and it’s probably overkill for most people’s smart speaker needs.