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Inexpensive Smart Speakers for Music, Cooking and More: A Guide for Beginners



  Sonos One

Sarah Tew / CNET

In recent years, smart speakers from early user's niche devices have become common counterparts and stocking fillers. For beginners, the number of options to consider increases rapidly. And what device you buy now could lead you (or whoever you're a gifted intelligent speaker) to a long-term relationship with a new language assistant.

So how do you choose the speaker to buy? Well, most people start with a budget spokesman like the Echo Dot ($ 50 on Amazon) or Nest Mini. But even between these wallet-friendly options, the answer is not clear. We could tell you to buy one or two speakers, but honestly, these budget speakers are not standard size products. So here are the main competitors and what they do for them.

The big players

The two leading companies in the category of intelligent speakers are essentially Google and Amazon. Apple has a single high-end speaker with strong sound quality, but you probably do not want to dig deep (read: a $ 300 investment). So Google and Amazon have three basic categories of speakers: the high-end speakers for music lovers (between 200 and 300 US dollars), the budget speaker for occasional use (on sale between 25 and 60 US dollars) and the midrange for this justified purpose. Right mix (1

00 US dollars).

In general, newcomers are advised to start with a budget speaker, as they offer such a cost-effective way to try out all the smart features of Alexa or Google Assistant. Despite some other market entries, the third-generation Echo Dot, the Echo Dot with clock and the Nest Mini are the low-cost smart speakers that are worth considering: they all have an impressive design and powerful voice assistants. But everyone is different in different areas. Here are the best devices for first time buyers.

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Tyler Lizenby / CNET

For the Miser

The Echo Dot is still the leader when it comes to the best generic smart speaker for the price. If you want to try a smart speaker for the first time to get a feel for what it does, the Echo Dot is the perfect starting point. The $ 50 price tag is the same as Google's Nest Mini, but the dot is offered for a maximum of $ 25 so you do not have to buy it anymore. The Dot offers solid sound and great general features like Smart Home Control and Amazon Prime Delivery Tracking. It's the easiest entry point into smart speakers, as this price is not intimidating, and it's a great way to show new users the highlights of integrating a smart speaker into their daily lives.

For Music Lovers

Both the Echo Dot and the Nest Mini have several iterations in hardware, and it would be difficult for you to integrate better sound quality into their small design profiles. That is, the Nest Mini gets the tiny nod here, because it has a slightly sharper and more balanced midrange. In fact, the sound should not be the deciding factor between the Echo Dot and the Nest Mini, as both are great for the price and inadequate for the true music lover compared to full-size speakers. If you want really great sound, you can use speakers such as the Sonos One ($ 200), the Apple Homepod ($ 300), the Google Home Max ( 300 USD) or the upcoming Amazon Echo Studio ($ 200). You can review your best sound quality options here .

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For the Google user

This seems to be a niche, but it is not. If you're one of those millions who already rely on Google Calendar, Gmail, Android, or a host of other Google services, the Nest Mini is a great personal support speaker. In addition, Google Assistant works with a decent number of popular smart home devices such as Nest's Learning Thermostat ($ 240 on Amazon) . While Google is still exploring the shortcomings of its smart home ecosystem, the Nest Mini is the anchor for Google's smart brand – and although restrictive in some respects, it can be a smoother and more integrated customer for existing customers Experience Google products and services.

For Cooking Enthusiasts

If you're looking for the best cooking assistant, you might be best served by a smart display like the Nest Hub (130 USD). Echo Show 5 (90 USD) or Lenovo Smart Display 10 (250 USD). These devices can display recipes and help in the kitchen in a way that smart speakers can not. A speaker can still be helpful.

At $ 60, the Echo Dot with Watch is slightly more expensive than the standard Dot and Nest Mini, but the introduction of the LED Watch is surprisingly handy for home-based tasks. You can put it on your bedside table to make a great smart alarm clock (yes, you can even press the top to doze), or put it on your kitchen counter and display timers for your culinary experiments. Although the Nest Mini could beat the point of affordability when it comes to practical utility in the household context, the echo point with clock has beaten the competition handy.

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