The year 2020 has been a milestone for smart speakers, with the top three players – Amazon, Apple and Google – all releasing new versions of wireless home smart devices.
Amazon Echo (2020), Apple HomePod mini, and Google Nest Audio are very different from their predecessors, with the three companies giving a huge design to the latest smart speakers.
Not only that, all three are worth almost the same, $ 99 / £ 89 / $ 149 (although the HomePod mini is £ 10 more expensive in the UK, £ 99).
While we love the fact that the world’s largest smart home companies have released smart speakers cheaply, when more of us tend to be more common than at home, the similarity between the three wireless speakers doesn’t exactly pick one.
That’s why we’ve completed this handy guide, where it will take you through the positives and negatives of each smart speaker, giving you a head start with Amazon Echo (2020).
Amazon Echo 2020 is the fourth generation of the tech giant’s smart speaker, and includes a number of upgrades, including a new design, a new AZ1 neural processor, and the introduction of the Zigbee home smart hub.
It is powered by Alexa, which you can use to control a variety of smart home devices, as well as ask basic questions to your voice assistant and make calls in your country.
Cool and futuristic design
In the Amazon Echo (2020) review, we liked the futuristic spherical design that Amazon has given to its main smart speaker. While Amazon sent us a review of the Charcoal color sample, Echo is also available in two other colors – Glacier White and Twilight Blue, all of which will look great in your home.
It retains the fabric mesh of the previous ones, but the iconic Alexa blue light has been moved to the bottom right of the speaker.
There are four easy-to-use control buttons at the top (if you’re concerned about privacy, including a microphone mute button), and a power connector and a 3.5mm aux line. back, the latter can be used to send the audio signal to an external speaker or to connect to a separate source such as the Echo phone or tablet.
Full intelligent control
Introducing a Zigbee hub means that Echo (2020) is the best smart speaker to control other smart devices in your home. Connecting a smart device, whether it’s a smart light bulb, a smart thermostat, or a security camera, is as simple as plugging in the product and asking them to search for Alexa devices. Once found, you can rename the Alexa app and you’re done.
Alexa routines can be created within the phone app, and for example, using a door sensor and a smart light bulb can turn on the light every time you open the closet, or turn on the thermostat when you get home by telling Alexa that you’re back.
Alexa herself has also improved; While Alexa required a second or two to process our requests, the new Echo will respond in half the time thanks to a new AZ1 neural processor that will work in conjunction with a revised speech processing model for commands. This feature will go into effect this year, Amazon told us, but we’ve already noticed a small boost in performance.
Comprehensive support for music playback
Amazon Echo offers support for a wide range of music playback services, as the company chooses the user more than loyalty to its ecosystem (we’re looking at Apple).
Alexa supports the most important music playback services, including Amazon Music (Standard and HD), Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL, Deezer, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn, though most of the time you want to follow the default Amazon Music. You’ll have about 30,000 songs available, and plenty of podcasts. If you have a Fire TV, Alexa can control that as well, but if it’s exactly the feature you’re looking for, you should pick up an Amazon Fire TV Cube.
Although the audio quality has improved, there are still improvements that can be made with Echo (2020) from the third generation Amazon Echo.
The spherical design may lead you to believe that you’re getting a 360-degree sound, but the truth is, you’re getting pretty directional audio that gives you the best sound when you’re sitting directly in front of it.
The audio isn’t particularly accurate either, and Echo doesn’t reach the same volume level as some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market; however, it’s okay to listen to temporary or background music while you spend the day.
After years of speculation, the Apple HomePod mini was launched this past year, offering a surprisingly cheap introduction to the Apple smart home ecosystem. As its name suggests, it is much smaller than the original Apple HomePod and like the new Echo, has a spherical (sort of) design that sets it apart from the previous one.
Awesome audio quality
For us, audio performance is a key reason to buy a HomePod mini. It’s great for a speaker that’s so small, and you really think it’s the right mix of price and sound quality. The bass isn’t too heavy, the vocals don’t get lost in the mix and when you pair the two minis the stereo experience is truly immersive.
The audio isn’t as powerful as the original HomePod, but it certainly surpasses the new Amazon Echo and Google Nest Audio – and the mini is just as poor (and more expensive) than the previous ones.
Like the Amazon Echo (2020), it came with a major overhaul of the Apple HomePod mini design, wearing a semi-spherical mesh and a gray or white mesh with a white mesh. However, unlike the Echo, it has a 360-degree sound.
At the top of the smart speaker is the Siri light screen, which turns on while you interact with the smart speaker. The small sphere sits on a flat bottom, and although it’s heavy enough to keep it from hitting around, it’s not close to the weight of the original HomePod. This lack of weight means you don’t have to worry about marking the sitting surface, as some users found it with a larger HomePod.
The Apple HomePod mini is very easy to set up, as long as you have an iPhone. Once connected, you can hold it close to your iPhone speakerphone and you will receive a notification asking you to connect; touching this activates the camera that you can use to find the Siri rotating light at the top of your HomePod mini device.
Then just a few taps to add the speaker to the Wi-Fi network and sync it to your Apple ID and set up personalized information for other people in your home. You can also give it to a specific room to ask Siri things like “play music in the bedroom” and connect it to another mini speaker to get stereo sound.
As with the original HomePod, the HomePod mini has a lack of smart home compatibility; While you can use Siri to control your smart home devices, we found in the Apple HomePod mini review that voice assistants didn’t always respond exactly to our commands.
Another issue is the lack of support for third-party streaming services. If you do not have an Apple Music account, you are limited if you want to play music using your voice. You can’t ask the HomePod mini to play anything via Spotify – it can only be enabled via AirPlay and requires the use of your phone rather than an easier method of asking Siri to play voice melodies. Basically, you’ll need a subscription to fully use your HomePod mini, even though Apple recently added support for Pandora, that’s it.
Google Nest Audio is the successor to the company’s first smart speaker, Google Home – and has changed a lot since then, including a name change designed to integrate speakers and smart displays into the Nest ecosystem.
It works with Google’s partner, along with the wealth of information provided by search engines, as well as other high-tech products and services such as Calendar, Gmail, Google Duo, and more.
Of all the smart speakers we’re comparing here, the one that stands out the least is Google Nest Audio, which looks like a pebble that can be easily mixed into any home. Sure, it’s not the most exciting smart speaker we’ve ever seen, but we like that it has elegant pastel colors. In addition, 70% is made from recycled materials and each unit, according to Google, will dispose of 1.2 ml of 500 ml plastic bottles from landfills.
Google worked to improve the microphones built into its smart speaker, and we saw in the Google Nest Audio review that it was very adept at taking orders from Google’s assistant to take our voice as well as listen to music.
Google Smart Assistant
Google Help has the advantage of being the most popular search engine in the world, which means it’s great to answer your questions. In addition, with the addition of an integrated Chromecast, you can use the speakerphone to control compatible TVs, to control sessions and movies using only your voice.
Add to that wonderful integration with Google’s suite of services, and you have the perfect smart speaker for anyone who uses Google on the registry.
Despite the name, Google Nest Audio is not the best wireless headset. The sound quality overall isn’t great and Nest Audio can provide a pleasant listening experience at mid-volume levels, but you won’t have to pay much more for speakers that can provide higher bass, detail, and brightness. triples without any hardness.
That said, we were grateful to be able to adjust the EQ settings in the Google Home app.