Hey Siri, turn on the light in the living room.” With a smart speaker at home, you can control everything from the couch while your iPhone is on the other side of the room: from starting up your Xbox console to turning down the smart thermostat. You almost wonder how you ever managed without it! What should you pay attention to when looking for a smart speaker?
Today, almost everyone has a smart device at home, such as a smart TV, a smart doorbell or smart lighting, and Power conditioners. A smart speaker is indispensable: the speech assistant arranges everything for you. In addition to operating your Smart Home, you can, of course, also play music on it. And those smart speakers don’t sound so crazy!
Smart speaker: what do you pay attention to?
Smart speakers come in all shapes and sizes, but which one is right for you? That mainly depends on your wishes and purposes of use. These are five things to remember when buying a new smart speaker.
1. Voice assistant and platform
The thing that makes a smart speaker so smart is its incredibly useful voice assistant. The three best known are Google Assistant, Siri from Apple and Alexa from Amazon. Most smart speakers you buy can handle Google Assistant or Siri.
Which smart assistant you use depends on the Smart Home platform you choose. Apple Home Kit and Google Home are both available for iPhones, but if you’re the only Apple user in the house, you’ll quickly end up with Google’s Smart Home solution. The device’s packaging always states which voice assistants or Smart Home platforms it can use.
The Matter will be released later this year. That protocol makes it possible to use a device with all Smart Home platforms. You will no longer have to look for the Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit label on the packaging but the Matter logo.
2. Audio Quality
The audio quality is less important if you only want to use the smart speaker to give commands to the smart assistant. Most budget speakers will then suffice. Do you want to use your smart speaker(s) for parties? Then you want the audio to be fine. Pay particular attention to the number of drivers. Many smart speakers only use one and play all audio frequencies on it. For great audio quality, choosing a smart speaker with multiple drivers is better so that the high, low and middle tones are controlled separately. With a smart speaker with at least twenty watts of power, you can fill a larger space, such as your living room.
3. Wireless or Wired
Many smart speakers, such as the Google Home and Google Home Mini, work wired. These smart gadgets consume a lot of energy, meaning that a large battery must be put in the device. If you still want to play music outside, smart wireless speakers can switch to Bluetooth if the WiFi connection is bad or broken. Many smart functions will be lost unless you use your phone as a WiFi hotspot. If you don’t plan on taking the smart speaker outside, a wired version is the smarter choice. These are slightly cheaper and often have more functions.
4 Smart speakers as HUB
Smart speakers can also serve as a hub in some cases. You can use automations that way without needing an internet connection. There are few of these types of speakers on the market; you soon end up with the HomePod mini. When the Matter protocol is in place by the end of this year, more speakers will be able to serve as hubs. In many cases, the smart speaker can then be used offline.
Such a handy smart speaker, but what about privacy? Are you worried that the device manufacturer is recording everything and listening to what you say? It is now quite standard for smart speakers to have a switch to turn off the microphone.
You don’t have to be so afraid of being bugged. Most smart speakers only record if you ask the voice assistant something, and the recordings are only used to improve the smart assistant. And yet: the option to turn off the microphone does give a nice feeling.
You’ve come to the right place with Apple regarding privacy and security. The company sets strict requirements for this, both with Siri and HomeKit. That’s not to say that Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are unsafe choices. All three voice assistants also have the option to delete recent voice commands.