Tech Junkie Gift Guide – Smart Home Speakers

DENVER — Smart speakers are more popular in 2018 than ever before. They offer quick and easy ways to access information, tell quick jokes and even control your other smart devices in your home. The problem is, there are a lot of options! How do you pick which one is right for you?

Amazon

Amazon was the first to introduce a smart speaker with the original Amazon Echo. Now, they offer a wide range of smart speakers start as long as $30 (on sale) up to $230 for their Echo Show that has a full 10.1″ screen. Being the first to the market also means that Amazon’s Echo devices are well developed with the most apps and capabilities. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the Echo has set the standard. It works with iPhone or Android phones.

If you’re new to the Echo world, it probably makes the most sense to start with the inexpensive Echo Dot. Personally, I like the Echo Spot. It’s a cute, round Echo with a color screen and camera for making video calls. It provides all of the functionality of any other Amazon Echo with the added benefit of a screen and camera. The larger screen of the Echo Show seems appealing, but I love the small form factor and cute round shape of the Spot.

You can buy Amazon’s Echo devices in stores or online at Amazon.com.

Google

Google may have been a little late to the game but in true Google fashion, they came to play.  The least expensive option is the Google Home Mini at just $29 (on sale). It has a cute, rounded shape and fun colored lights on the top that blink to respond to your commands. The larger Google Home is $99 and has much better sound. The new Google Home Hub has a 7″ touchscreen but no camera. Google says it kept the camera out of the device for security reasons, but in my full review, you’ll read that it’s the one feature I wish it had! If you’re an Android user, the Google Home lineup is an obvious choice. It works great with Google Chromecast devices, Android phones and Google Music service. It’s also compatible with both Android and Apple devices. The list of supported apps and smart-home devices is growing fast and nearly as robust as that of Amazon.

You can buy Google Home devices at stores or on Google.com.

Apple

Apple is super late to the game, but isn’t ignoring the smart speaker world. The Apple HomePod is the most expensive player in the game with a list price of $350! This is a big chunk of cash for a device that doesn’t even have a screen. Sure, the sound is awesome, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price. Apple has just slashed the price tag down to $250, but this will likely go back up after Christmas.

If you’re a die-hard Apple user, this might be the choice that makes the most sense. Otherwise, I’d look at the or Google Home devices. Both work with Apple devices and provide a much better supported list of apps and smart-home compatibility.

You can buy the Apple HomePod at most retail stores or directly from Apple.com.

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