Looking to spend your money on the best Alexa speaker? Alexa powered smart speakers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the compact to the cacophonous. Some even come with screens for video calling and bingeing Amazon Prime Video.
So, which Alexa speaker should be your smart next buy? We've rounded up the best on the market right now. Because Amazon Alexa isn’t just available on a range of devices from Amazon, it’s also found on speakers from specialist audio brands.
What's so good about an Alexa speaker? Using artificial intelligence via voice control, Alexa will play your favourite music, update you with news and weather reports, help you boil an egg, and compile to-do lists. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are over 100,00 skills (apps by any other name) offering more specialised applications available, from cooking and fitness to sleeping and wellbeing aids.
You’ll soon wonder how you ever got by without Alexa’s help...
See more: Best Sonos speaker – find the right speaker for your TV, bedroom and even garden
The best Alexa smart speakers
While Amazon’s own Alexa smart speaker range borders on demure, the Alexa-powered Marshall Uxbridge Voice is far more rock and roll. It’s still reassuringly compact, but comes in Marshall’s trademark guitar amp livery.
With Amazon’s digital assistant on board, the Uxbridge offers all the usual smart functionality, but it’s clearly most at home playing loud, thanks to a gutsy 30W digital amp. Marshall’s signature sound is tuned for pop and rock.
There are no physical connection options; the Uxbridge is wireless all the way. There’s Wi-Fi as well as well as Bluetooth, and it works with Airplay 2 and Spotify Connect.
This particular Amazon Alexa speaker has an attitude, and we like it.
The Echo Spot is a cute-as-a-button smart speaker for your bedside table. It’s a good deal smaller than the regular Amazon Echo and Echo Show, and has a circular 480 x 480 64mm screen that relates the time, as well as news updates. You can even watch videos on it, but the picture is truly tiny and not really worth the squint.
At night, the display dims automatically, becoming almost unreadable - you can override this if required, but we think it’s a thought bit of usability.
The Spot sits on a flat base, and is quite sturdy. There are physical buttons for volume control, and mic/camera activation; you can disable the camera completely in settings, if you’re worried about Alexa spying on you while you sleep, or simply don’t need the Spot’s Video Calling feature.
In addition to Alexa voice control, there’s a 3.5mm audio line output.
When it comes to playback quality, the Spot sounds OK, thanks to a potent 1.4-inch driver. There’s enough volume to be comfortably heard in a moderately sized room. You can use it to stream music from popular services such as Spotify and TuneIn, and it even shows music lyrics when playing tunes from Amazon Music.
While the majority of Amazon Echo speakers are basically mono, the Echo Studio is a good deal more immersive. This all-in-one offers an impressive sonic performance with Dolby Atmos sound.
In addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, there is a 3.5mm aux/mini optical line input if needed.
To enjoy the Echo Studio at its best, you’ll need to subscribe to the Amazon Music HD streaming service, but it’s well worth it.
Significantly bigger than other Echoes, this speaker sounds immense. inside are a trio of 51mm mid-range drivers, a downward-firing 5.25-inch bass woofer and 25mm tweeter.
Onboard amplification is rated at 300W, and it drops deep. The speaker is also high-res audio compatible, which means it can offers really fine sonic detail from the right sources.
While basically a standalone speaker, the studio can also be paired with a second for wide stereo, and even partnered with an Amazon Fire TV device to deliver cinematic Dolby Atmos audio sound.
We reckon this is the most exciting Alexa smart speaker you can buy for less than £200.
The aptly named Echo Show is a hybrid smart speaker and video display. With its colourful 5.5-inch touchscreen, it’s probably the most versatile of all the Alexa-powered smart speakers, and is well suited for life in the kitchen.
You can use the Show to play music or radio, as well as catch-up on your favourite TV from Amazon Prime Video. It’s also a great cooking assistant, at home offering recipes and a timer.
It comes with a 4W sound system which is OK for casual listening, but you can upgrade it with additional speakers using the 3.5mm audio output. Alternatively, pair the Show with Bluetooth headphones.
The screen has a variety of uses. Use it to sing along to lyrics, or monitor security cameras or baby cams. You can also make video calls to other Amazon Echo devices that have a screen.
Away from the kitchen, it functions as a smart bedside alarm clock - although if you want to binge a couple of TV shows, it might be worth opting for the slightly more expensive Echo Show 8 (with larger 8-inch screen).
Alexa meets multi-room Hi-Fi in the Sonos One. Essentially a Sonos Play:1 speaker with Alexa functionality built-in, it behaves just like any other Alexa powered speaker, but comes with some serious Hi-Fi credentials (don’t confuse this model with the Sonos One SL, which lacks smart speaker support).
Audio quality is great, with decently deep bass and crisp highs. If you have an iPhone, you can optimise the Sonos One for your listening room, by using the Sonos app and running Trueplay room calibration software.
While the Sonos One makes a fine standalone speaker, it comes into its own when used alongside other Sonos components. You can ask Alexa to play music in any of your connected Sonos zones. Two Sonos Ones can also be partnered to create a stereo pair.
We rate the Alexa-powered Sonos One a must-have for Sonos enthusiasts.
The Echo Dot may be the smallest in Amazon’s Alexa family, but it has a charm all its own, and is a cheap and easy way to upgrade your existing Hi-Fi system.
It may be diminutive in stature, but it comes with a potent little mono 4cm speaker that will serve you well if you simply want to enjoy Alexa’s musings or just need some background noise when you’re WFH.
There is also a variant of the Dot with a digital clock display, making it a fun bedside cabinet addition, but for most users we would recommend this super-cheap basic version.
Actually, it looks pretty smart, thanks to a fancy fabric wrap. There’s a choice of colours, we rather like the plum.
We think the best use for an Echo Dot is as a Hi-Fi system upgrade. Using a cheap mini-jack to phono stereo lead (there’s one offered by Amazon Basics), you can connect the Dot to your home stereo system making your old home Hi-Fi Alexa enabled!
The big surprise is just how good this line out stereo audio quality is. What’s small and monophonic on the Dot itself, sounds detailed and joyously stereophonic through a serious sound system.
Take Alexa to the pool or beach with the Ultimate Ears Megablast, a bombastic Bluetooth Wi-Fi speaker with smart functionality built-in.
More B-B-Q than Hi-Fi, this is very much a party animal. The cylindrical design is drop-proof and rated IP67 waterproof, so it’ll survive a dunking in the pool just fine. It’s not phased by dust either. Just the ticket if you’re having a soiree on the decking, or simply want an Alexa speaker you can use in the bathroom.
Battery life is rated at 16 hours, and there’s an optional charging dock available.
The Megablast comes in six finishes: Graphite (black), Blizzard (white), Blue Steel (blue), Merlot (red), Mojito (green) and Lemonade (yellow).
The speaker responds to the standard ‘Alexa’ wake word and is adept at all the standard smart speaker trickery, but it doesn’t support is voice calling or Alexa Drop-in.
How do I choose an Alexa smart speaker? What can they do?
Do you want a smart speaker for the kitchen, living room or bedroom? There are models suitable for each job - including a waterproof wireless one for pool duties. Once you've decided that, you can narrow down your shortlist.
Smart speakers are a doodle to use. As Amazon Alexa responds to voice commands, there’s no need to fiddle with buttons. The speaker is always on, waiting for its ‘wake’ word. Once it hears you mention its name, it’ll be ready to play music, offer news updates assist with recipes and even control connected smart home devices, like smart lighting and heating.
Remember though that you need Wi-Fi at home for one to work.
New features and functions are being added to the Amazon Alexa platform on an almost weekly basis, so it’ll not run out of things to do...
Is Alexa safe/always listening/can she spy on you?
This is the most contentious aspect of having a smart speaker in the home. By its very nature, Alexa relies on sensitive on board microphones to listen to your conversation, as this is the only way it’ll hear its ‘Alexa’ wake word.
But if you’re concerned about privacy, these mics can be muted with a simple button press. In its muted state, the speaker ring glows red and falls dumb. Similarly Alexa devices with screens and cameras can also be disabled via a simple switch.
Is Alexa better than Google? What about Siri?
Alexa is the most popular of all the smart speaker platforms, but there’s a similar level of functionality available from Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. As befits its popularity, we tend to find Alexa the best-rounded of the big three, and it enjoys the greatest level of Skill support.
That said, the Google Assistant tends to be better at answering search queries, and works well with other Google services. Apple’s Siri is only available to iOS users but is similarly polished.
Alexa is our preferred smart speaker solution though. She’s so much fun to hang out with...