En español | So you've decided to buy your first — or next — smart speaker.
After all, you love that you can use your voice to ask a question and instantly get an answer from a friendly human-sounding voice. From timers and recipes to directions and traffic to sports scores, news and music playback, you appreciate the value of an always-on virtual assistant.
And hey, it's also cool to ask to turn on the lights or turn down the temperature, and it just works.
For you, the question isn't whether you should buy a smart speaker but rather which one.
As you likely know, you've got three main decisions today: Amazon Echo powered by Alexa, Apple HomePod with built-in Siri and Google Home featuring Google Assistant.
With Amazon and Google, you can go with a small and inexpensive speaker or all the way up to a larger and costlier one and even choose from a few “smart” displays that also have a screen and usually a camera. More on these shortly.
The bigger the speaker, the louder and better the sound quality. If you use it primarily for music, you may want to consider investing in a larger model to fill the room with full audio.
The microphones on all of them are fairly sensitive, so they should be able to pick up your voice well. Deciding among Amazon, Apple and Google boils down to personal preference and budget, though Apple makes only a premium device.
So many options make it easy to be overwhelmed, so here is a look at what's available from each camp.
Apple HomePod, $299
Apple's first and only smart speaker — which sounds great, by the way — has a built-in Siri personal assistant for handling questions and controlling compatible smart home devices that work with the Apple HomeKit platform.
If you have a subscription, streaming from Apple Music is the easiest thing to pull off, but you can use another device such as an iPhone to stream other services, such as Spotify. Those services just won't respond to voice activation.
Apple HomePod is available in space gray or white.
Marc Saltzman has been a freelance technology journalist for 25 years. His podcast Tech It Out aims to break down geek speak into street speak.