Connects to Amazon Alexa
If you’re not in it for the music, Amazon Echo Dot with watch (4th generation) and Google Nest Mini (7/10, WIRED Recommended) will give you most of the benefits of having a smart speaker and you can use them to make existing speakers easier at a low cost.
The sound is very similar between the models and they have almost identical footprints, so you can easily argue that one is better than the other just based on the ecosystem. We used to prefer the Nest Mini for this reason, but now that Amazon has added a plain watch to the front of the Echo Dot, we like the Alexa-powered option a little better.
The small Echo Dot With Clock display is useful. It can tell you when your timers will expire in the kitchen or when your alarm is set for the morning. Of course, it also shows the time. This makes it a better companion in the bedroom and kitchen. You can also ask him about the weather, make him answer your random questions, and make a white noise at bedtime to help you fall asleep. It also presents an easy way to attract a smart assistant to places in your home where you don’t normally listen to music.
Another alternative: The Nest Mini ($ 49) is also a great mini speaker if you prefer Google Assistant.
Connects to Google Assistant or Alexa
Sonos Roam a pint size (9/10, WIRED Recommended) has become our new favorite portable speaker. I (Parker) took it on trips, at outdoor weddings and in the basket on my bike. The easy-to-use Sonos ecosystem works with Google Assistant and Alexa, and the speaker has Bluetooth when you’re out of Wi-Fi range. It even includes wireless charging, making it the perfect speaker to place at home between outdoor trips.
You will get 10 hours of listening at full charge at medium volume and this thing is healthy; An IP67 rating means it can survive in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. I am not easy with the speakers and our review unit is still strong. If you want to improve your game, buy one of them and put it in a stainless walking cup. Just grab a drink along the way.
Another alternative: The Sonos Move ($ 399) it’s also a great mini speaker and sounds bolder, but it’s much more clumsy (and expensive).
There are many smart speakers. Here are a few more we like: