With the introduction of the all new Amazon Echo speaker coming in at half the price of the original and the launch of the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker that has Cortana built in, are smart speakers worth it for your home?
Ever since its launch back in 2015 the Amazon Echo has taken the world by storm and been a runaway success. This smart speaker helped thousands of users take their first steps into home automation and give them a taste for what could be done. As well as being able to control their music and get answers to their questions, Amazon Echo allowed them to turn the lights on, set reminders and much more.
It’s now two years on and it seems that smart speakers are here to stay with Google having joined the market with their Home speaker, Apple’s HomePod and now thanks to Harman Kardon the Invoke speaker that brings Cortana to the party. With prices starting from just £89.99 for the 2nd generation Amazon Echo these speakers are definitely a great introduction to home automation and can even work within a professionally installed home automation system.
But which is best?
Well this really depends on what you want from your smart speaker. If you’re looking for the best sound quality possible and to primarily use the device for playing music then the Harman Kardon Invoke and Apple HomePod seem to make the most sense. For versatility, usability and the ability to connect to a wide range of devices in your home it is hard to look past the Amazon Echo, especially given its new £89.99 starting price point.
Google’s Home has the smartest assistant and can deal with a full range of questions to provide you with meaningful answers, it also supports multiple accounts so different people in your home can get information that is relevant to them e.g. traffic information or calendar appointments. Amazon also lets you do this but you need to tell it to switch accounts whereas Google Home will recognise different user’s voices to make the change.
For those that have a professionally installed home automation system Amazon’s Echo probably makes the most sense as it integrates with a wide range of control systems. Google Home is also becoming wildly adapted while the new Harmon Kardon Invoke is somewhat of an outsider. Apples HomePod has a lot of potential and the designer name that everyone wants, but as yet this has not been fully realised.
For DIY home automation the Amazon Echo and Google Home are both pretty equal with a wide range of third party integration to help you control everything from your heating system using the popular Nest thermostat to your lighting with the Philips Hue lightbulbs. Smart speakers are here to stay and as they become widely adopted we’d expect their usefulness to grow putting them in homes all over the country.