Best Smart Speakers to Buy in 2019

Amazon Alex and Google Home smart speakers (Source: Techhive)

Since the first generation of Amazon’s Echo speakers launched in 2014 equipped with the smart assistant Alexa, tech giants like Google, Apple, Alibaba, Baidu, etc. have also rushed to try their hand at the smart speaker game. Today we have a plethora of different smart speakers to choose from. We decided to list some of the most popular ones here to hopefully help you pick the best one.

Leading smart speaker brands in 2019

According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, global smart speaker sales reached 30.3 million units in Q2 2019. Amazon retains its crown with a 21.9% market share. Google and Baidu occupy the second and the third positions respectively, followed by Alibaba, Xiaomi and Apple.

Amazon and Google dominate the smart speaker market in the US and Europe, while in Asia, especially in China, products from Alibaba, Xiaomi and Baidu enjoy more popularity.

SEE ALSO: Best Smartwatches to Buy for Android and iPhone Users in 2019

What Can a Smart Speaker Do?

Thanks to smart virtual assistants, we can now get smart speakers that not only play music, but do pretty much whatever we ask them to do. Smart speakers can set reminders, schedule appointments, tell us the weather, control smart home devices. Some can even make phone calls and order deliveries. Others can be used for watching videos and making video calls.

Amazon Echo (2nd Generation)

Company: Amazon
Virtual assistant: Amazon Alexa
Wake word: Alexa
Music streaming: Amazon Music, Spotify, Sirius XM
Launch date: 2017
Price: $99.99

In 2014, Amazon kicked off its first Echo. The updated second-generation Echo was released in 2017. The new speaker is smaller and sleeker than the original with several color and texture options for the design. This smart speaker will best fit communal spaces, like living and family rooms. Alexa can stream songs from Amazon Music, Spotify, Sirius XM, and other platforms.

Amazon Echo smart speaker (Source: Amazon)

If you want a more compact Alexa, there are a variety of products to choose from, such as Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Look, Amazon Echo Show, etc.

Google Home

Company: Google
Virtual assistant: Google Assistant
Wake word: Ok Google or Hey Google
Music streaming: Spotify, YouTube Music, Google Play Music
Launch date: November 2016
Price: $69

Google Home speaker with smart Google Assistant (Source: Google)

If you want to bring Google Assistant into your home, you have a few different options, such as the Google Home, the Google Home Mini, and the Google Home Hub. However, it is still the original Google Home that attracts most users in terms of its size and price. Backed by the world’s number one search engine operator, Google Home is able to answer almost any question you could think of. It can make calls, control your smart home devices, help out in the kitchen and more. On top of that it boasts pretty good sound quality and can control Chromecast-enabled devices like TVs.

Sonos One

Company: Sonos
Virtual assistant: Alexa / Google Assistant
Wake word: Hey Alexa / Hey Google
Music streaming: Google Play Music, Apple Music
Launch date: October 2017
Price: $179

Sonos One with Alexa and Google Assistant built in (Source: Sonos)

Sonos One has both Alexa and Google Assistant built in, so if you have difficulty choosing between Alexa and Google Assistant, this might be your best choice. You can simply pick which one want to use during set-up. Additionally, Sonos supports Apple’s AirPlay 2, therefore it can be also controlled by any Siri-enabled device! Two Sonos Ones paired in the same room could provide a real stereo sound experience.

Apple Home Pod (Only for iPhone users)

Company: Apple
Virtual assistant: Siri
Wake word: Hey Siri
Music streaming: Apple Music
Launch date: June 2017
Price: $299.00

Best sound Apple’s HomePod smart speakers (Source: Apple)

Apple’s HomePod is one of the best-sounding wireless smart speakers available in the market. It can be easily handled with the help of the company’s voice assistant Siri to get the latest weather forecasts, stream music, send messages and control HomeKit smart home devices. However, HomePod has several limitations. It is worth considering only if you’re an iPhone owner and a subscriber to Apple Music, otherwise you won’t be able to experience this great smart speaker at its full potential.

Xiaodu Smart Display 1S

Company: Baidu
Virtual assistant: DuerOS Open Platform
Wake word: xiaodu xiaodu
Language: Chinese only
Music streaming: QQ Music
Launch date: February 2019
Price: $56.68

Xiaodu Smart Display 1S with Kids Mode (Source: Baidu )

Baidu, a new player in the smart speaker industry, has so far performed quite well. Xiaodu Smart Display 1 is the latest iteration of Baidu’s first smart speaker equipped with a screen, that was previously known as “Xiaodu Zaijia”. It comes with 18 upgrades such as higher resolution video calls, improved audio algorithms for better sound quality, and 100% faster wireless data transmission compared to the previous model. This smart speaker has a pretty rich content library to meet user’s needs, including music, video and educational resources. What’s more, it comes with an upgraded Kids Mode that can recognize children’s voices, and a text-to-speech system that can be customized with children-friendly voices. The Kid’s Mode puts special emphasis on protecting children from long screen time, close screen distance, and inappropriate content.

Tmall Genie CC

Company: Alibaba
Virtual assistant: AliGenie
Wake word: Tmall Genie
Language: Chinese only
Music streaming: QQ Music
Price: $70.89

Tmall Genie series smart speakers (Source: Tmall Genie )

The best-selling smart speaker in China is the Tmall Genie, developed by the Chinese E-commerce giant Alibaba Group. It features Alibaba’s own virtual assistant, AliGenie. It comes in three main shapes to meet different needs and budgets: Tmall Genie CC ($70), Tmall Genie X1 ($33) and Tmall Genie Cube Sugar($13). All Tmall Genie products allow users to search the web, play music, set alarms, and order products from the Tmall platform using simple voice commands.

family-friendly Tmall Genie CC

If you want a family-friendly AI assistant, then Tmall Genie CC is the right choice. It is the latest generation smart speaker, with a 7-inch IPS display, which allows you not only to hear the answer, but also to see it. The CC can also be used to watch videos, listen to music and enjoy video chats.

Xiao Ai Speaker Universal Remote Edition

Company: Xiaomi
Virtual assistant: Xiaoai intelligent assistant
Wake word: Xiaoai tongxue
Language: Chinese only
Music streaming: QQ Music
Launch date: June 2019
Price: $28

Xiao Ai smart speaker for IoT (Source: Xiaomi)

Xiaomi offers a whole line of smart speakers compatible with its Xiao Ai intelligent assistant, which can also be used to vocally control apps on the user’s smartphone as well as on smart devices at home. The Xiaoai Speaker universal remote edition is one of Xiaomi’s latest speakers. It’s main feature is its integration with Xiaomi’s IoT platform and the ability to control several smart home products. For example, you can ask it to turn on the TV, washing machine, air conditioning, etc. Xiaomi says it can control up to 5000 different smart home products. It is able to connect to these products either via Wi-Fi, infrared sensors, or Bluetooth.