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Best smart speaker: the top 5 speakers to boost your home’s smart set-up

The best smart speakers for listening to music, voice calling, wireless streaming and more

Best Smart Speaker: Marshall Stanmore 2 Voice Speaker
(Image credit: Marshall )

Incorporating smart technology into your home can often be a headache, but a fantastic place to start is with a smart speaker. Available in a range of stylish designs and with features such as reminders and alarms, quality music and audio playback, control of smart heating, lighting and other appliances, and hands-free calling, they can make life at home that much more seamless.

Of course, choosing a smart speaker is a challenge in itself. With so many options available it can be difficult to find the best option for you, but we’ve compiled a list of some of the best products out there right now for you to consider. Scroll down to see what we thought.

And for more guidance on how you can incorporate technology into everyday life, read our guide on how to set up a smart home

The best smart speaker 2021

Best smart speaker overall: Amazon Echo Smart Speaker (4th Gen)

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Amazon Echo Smart Speaker (4th Gen)

Best smart speaker overall: the best smart speaker with Alexa

Specifications
Platform: Alexa
Streaming: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Audible
Colors: Charcoal, Glacier White, Twilight Blue
Dimensions: W10 x D10 x H8.9cm
Weight: 3.38kg
Reasons to buy
+Can detect space and adjust sound to fit+Fire TV compatible+Voice calling+Built-in privacy+Multi-room
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing!

Our choice for the best smart speaker on the market right now, the 4th Gen Amazon Echo Smart Speaker is the ultimate option for Alexa and all the features it brings with it. Place the speaker in your kitchen to use it for timers, in the bedroom for alarms, or anywhere in the house for reminders, automations and so much more.

Your first step towards a smart home

If you’re interested in incorporating more smart devices into your home, then an Amazon Echo smart speaker is a great jumping off point. You can use Alexa to connect to any smart-enabled appliances, TVs or other speakers you already have around the home, allowing multi-room connectivity and transforming your home into an automated haven.

Privacy

To help ease people’s minds when it comes to maintaining their privacy at home, the Amazon Echo gives you the ability to switch off the device’s microphone when you don’t want it to listen. Just turn it back on when you want to issue a voice command.

Voice calling

The Echo doesn’t just allow you to call friends and family completely hands-free, but you can also use multiple speakers to call members of your household whenever they’re needed.

Best Google Smart Speaker: Google Nest Audio Smart Speaker

(Image credit: Google)

2. Google Nest Audio Smart Speaker

Best Google smart speaker: a great-sounding offering from Google

Specifications
Platform: Google Assistant
Streaming: Chromecast
Colors: Charcoal, Chalk
Dimensions: W12.4 x D7.8 x H17.5cm
Weight: 1.2kg
Reasons to buy
+Voice match+Built-in privacy+Multi-room+Adjusts sound to space
Reasons to avoid
-Sound quality still not as good as competitors

A version of Google’s Nest range that prioritizes sound quality, the Nest Audio has everything you want in a smart assistant as well as great acoustics. The offering boasts voice match technology that can detect who is speaking, added privacy with a mute switch (or just say “hey Google, delete what I just said”), and the ability to connect with countless smart devices or additional Nest speakers around the home.

Sound designed for your space

One of the features the Nest Audio includes to boost sound quality is an ability to map the space and adjust audio levels to fit. That means your speaker will know whether it’s in the smallest room in your house or the largest, and change how it outputs music, podcasts or anything else to ensure you’re getting the best experience.

Best smart speaker for music lovers: Marshall Stanmore 2 Voice Speaker

(Image credit: Marshall)

3. Marshall Stanmore 2 Voice Speaker

Best smart speaker for music lovers: a stylish throwback with futuristic smarts

Specifications
Platform: Alexa
Streaming: Spotify Connect
Colors: Black
Dimensions: W35 x D19.5 x H18.5cm
Weight: 4.75kg
Reasons to buy
+Lovely design+Multi-room+Built-in privacy
Reasons to avoid
-Sound quality is hit and miss-Expensive

The Marshall Stanmore 2 Voice may look like a classic speaker, but underneath it’s sleek outside is an Alexa-enabled smart assistant. Recommended for music enthusiasts who want the iconic look without compromising on the latest technology, it’s a fantastic choice for anyone who’s interested in smart speakers but doesn’t like how they’re normally designed.

Analogue & Bluetooth

Another nice thing about the Marshall Stanmore 2 Voice speaker is that you can choose how you use it. While you can of course utilise Alexa to deliver voice commands, or just play music through Bluetooth from your phone, it also has all of your volume, bass and treble (as well as play/pause) controls on top of the speaker.

Best portable smart speaker: Sonos Move Smart Speaker

(Image credit: Sonos)

4. Sonos Move Smart Speaker

Best portable smart speaker: for when you want more flexibility

Specifications
Platform: Google Assistant, Alexa
Streaming: Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, Deezer, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music, YouTube Music
Battery life: Up to 11 hours
Colors: Black, White
Dimensions: H24 x W16 x D12.5cm
Weight: 3kg
Reasons to buy
+Can detect space and adjust sound to fit+Supports Google and Amazon assistants+Waterproof+Wireless
Reasons to avoid
-Quite big-Doesn't work as well without a stable Wi-Fi connection

A lovely option for anyone who wants a wireless speaker that can be used anywhere from the kitchen to the garden without any problem. The Sonos One is a seriously impressive speaker with compatibility with both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, several streaming services built-in, and the smart sound features of other leading products.

Wireless and waterproof

The biggest selling point of the Sonos One is that it's wireless and can be taken anywhere including outside for garden parties or solo relaxing during the warmer months. It’s slightly larger than some will like, but there’s a convenient carry handle that allows you to pick the speaker up and take it with you anywhere.

Best smart alarm clock: Lenovo Smart Clock Essential

(Image credit: Lenovo)

5. Lenovo Smart Clock Essential

Best smart alarm clock: an upgraded morning routine from Lenovo and Google

Specifications
Platform: Google Assistant
Colors: Grey, Black
Dimensions: H6.4 x W12.1 x D8.3cm
Weight: 2.4kg
Reasons to buy
+LED display+Night light+Multi-room+Charging port
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best sound quality

Something a little different, or more familiar, depending on your perspective. The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is our pick for those who want an alarm clock that makes life that much easier, with integrated Google Assistant functionality that adds features such as weather reports, music streaming, smart light/heating controls and a lot more.

Smart display lite

The Lenovo Smart Clock is one step further than a smart speaker but just short of a smart display, so comes recommended as long as you don’t need functionality such as video calling or video playback. Essentially, it’s a seriously upgraded alarm clock but might not be enough to impress more tech-savvy users.

How to choose the best smart speaker

If you’re considering a smart speaker for your home, then there are a few key things you need to think about before committing. Here is our guide to the questions you should ask:

Do I want Alexa or Google Assistant?

The question of whether Amazon’s Alexa platform or Google Assistant are better is one without a clear answer, but can often come down to personal taste. If you’re used to one but have yet to try the other, we would recommend staying with the familiar but, if your chosen smart speaker requires a switch, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

How important are aesthetics over functionality?

The smart speakers we have included on this list all come with a combination of style and great features, but we’re aware that personal design styles can often dictate what smart technology you bring into your home. While flagship speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest look nice to some, others will have a hard time imagining them fitting into their carefully curated space. 

If that’s the case for you, then our advice would be to carefully read through specifications before committing but, if a smart clock runs on Alexa or Google, you shouldn’t be faced with many limitations on how it works within a smart home set-up.

How can I stop my smart speaker listening to me?

One key concern for many of us is that a smart speaker in the home can not only listen to everything you and your family are saying, but also record and store that information. The big companies know this is a worry, and so many of the top devices have a switch that allows you to temporarily mute the microphone until you want to issue your next voice command. If this is particularly important to you, make sure your smart speaker has this function before buying.