Planning to buy a smart speaker or a display? Here are 10 options worth considering
Nidhi Singal October 24, 2019
Wireless speakers and devices with built-in AI-powered voice assistants are a rage these days. Imagine playing your favourite music, fetching news updates, adding things to your shopping list or controlling compatible home appliances with just a voice command.
Smart voice assistants for smartphones had been there for a while but Amazon popularised this concept for homes with its virtual assistant Alexa. From just being speakers, the category has evolved into smart devices. While some of popular virtual assistants include Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana, only smart devices powered by Alexa and Google Assistant are widely available in the country. These are commonly known as smart speaker Alexa and smart speaker Google.
Interestingly, you can interact with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in Hindi as well. If you are planning to get one, here is the list of all latest smart speakers and displays introduced in the country.
1. Echo Dot 3rd Gen: Rs 3,999
Having been the best-selling Alexa-powered device from Amazon's portfolio, the Echo Dot not just answers all your queries but can be used to control Wi-Fi-enabled smart devices too. This compact circular speaker with a fabric design looks good and has four microphones to pick up the command from any corner of the room. Available at Rs 3,999, the Echo Dot third generation often retails for Rs 2,499 during Amazon sales.
2. Echo Input: Rs 1,999
Do you already own a speaker and do not wish to invest in a smart speaker? Echo Input will help you upgrade your existing speaker into a smart one. This small circular device is powered by Amazon Alexa and will bring all the features to your existing speaker available on Echo Dot or Echo. You can pair it with your existing speaker via 3.5mm audio cable (included in the box) or over Bluetooth.
3. Echo Dot with clock: Rs 5,499
The new addition to the Echo family, the Echo Dot with clock comes with a bright LED display that shows time, outdoor temperature, and timer or alarms. The addition of the display makes it convenient to be placed next to the bed, on the living room table or even on the kitchen counter. The LED display automatically adjusts based on the brightness of the room, so you can easily see the time or just ask to see the outdoor temperature or to set a morning alarm or cooking timer. Plus, you can tap the top of the speaker to snooze an alarm.
4. Google Mini: Rs 2,799
Catching up with the popularity of Amazon Alexa and Echo devices, Google too has launched a range of Google Assistant supported hardware. The entry-level Google Mini retailing for a discounted price of Rs 2,799 is a decent-looking smart speaker with fabric on the top. Google Assistant is powered by the company's search engine, and the response is far superior in comparison to the ones answered by the competition. Just like the Echo Dot, even this one can be used to control compatible smart devices. It also works with Chromecast, that is, it can stream tunes and TV shows on TV or speakers right from the comfort of where you are sitting.
5. Google Nest Hub: Rs 9,999
Smart displays are an extension of smart speakers but they come with a screen that makes content consumption easy. The Google Nest Hub is an elegant, cameraless and connected home multitool powered by Google Assistant. This is an excellent combo of a smart speaker and a smart display paired with Google Photos. It also works as a digital photo frame. You can ask all you want (time, weather, traffic and appointments) and it will instantly respond to your voice commands. You can view it on the touchscreen.
6. Echo 5: Rs 8,999
Amazon's Echo Show 5 comes with a 5.5-inch display with 960x480 p resolution, which is visible from across the room. The display also adjusts the brightness automatically, which comes handy at night, especially in dark. It is of the perfect size and it could easily fit in on a nightstand, TV-unit, study tablet, kitchen counter or anywhere you can think of. The addition of the physical mic mute button and camera shutter addresses privacy concerns, helping Echo Show finding a place in bedrooms. This one belongs to the Amazon Echo family and is powered by Alexa. It is retailing for a discounted price of Rs 5,499 during festive sales.
7. Bose Home Speaker 500: Rs 35,100
If you are planning to buy a premium and powerful smart speaker, consider Bose Home Speaker 500. This is a premium-looking Bluetooth speaker with two custom drivers pointing in opposite directions to bounce sound off the walls. While it has tap controls on the top, the speaker can be controlled using voice commands (supports Alexa) or using the Bose Music app. The company also has Alexa-powered soundbars.
8. Yamaha Music AS 109 and YAS 209: Rs 23,990 onwards
Claiming to offer immersive sound experience in addition to the integration of voice assistants, these soundbars are Wi-Fi-enabled and can play music through Spotify Connect, Amazon Music and Alexa-supported music services. Design-wise, both soundbars have an ultra-slim design, can be placed in front of TVs or mounted on the wall without the need of additional bracket. Priced at Rs 23,990, the YAS-109 comes with built-in subwoofers for rich and deep bass in a compact size. The YAS-209 has a separate wireless subwoofer, providing flexible placement options and even more expressive bass for Rs 35,490. The built-in Alexa feature can be used to control volume. There is a dedicated remote to initiate Alexa control. Additionally, Alexa can be muted when desired or turned off completely when the soundbar is powered down based on user preferences.
9. Lenovo Smart clock: Rs 5,999
One of the most affordable smart displays in the market, this one is powered by Google Assistant. Claimed to be a must-have in the bedroom, Lenovo Smart Clock features voice and touch control on a four-inch screen, with a full fabric soft-touch cover. It is optimised to help users develop healthy sleep habits. With Lenovo Smart Clock, users can cut down on disruptive screen time throughout the evening and help improve the sleep routine. The touchscreen display of the Smart Clock serves as a Google Home Assistant screen that can display information such as time and alarms, upcoming meetings, calendar events, weather information and album information when playing music. A 6W speaker has been added for accessing music, audiobooks, podcasts and radio, which can be used to play relaxing music or guided meditation tracks via Google Assistant. It even works with Chromecast, helping users' stream shows and music on the TV or speakers with a voice command. It has an optional setting for a continued conversation that lets users have a natural back-and-forth conversation with Google Assistant.
10. Lenovo Smart Display: Rs 14,999
This is a premium Google Assistant-powered smart display featuring a 10-inch touch screen. It can be used to fetch information such as calendar, reminders, and shopping list at a glance. Lenovo claims that it makes multitasking a breeze, bringing step-by-step recipe instructions, helpful answers powered by Google Search and YouTube, and a single hub to control smart home devices hands-free. It also supports video calling on Google Duo. While using video calls, the Smart Display can be positioned horizontally or vertically. When not in use, it can be used as a digital photo album. The screen displays photo albums that can be fetched from Google Photos. It can be used to control smart home compatible appliances.