De kan gøre alt fra at spille dine yndlingssange til at tænde lysene. Men der bør du få? Vi tester de fire førende modeller
Pris: £ 89.99Amazons andengenerations Echo er en moderniseret udgave af den enhed, der opfandt den hel kategori af smarte højttalere i 2014. Den nye Echo er mindre, bedre lyd og bedre ud, i et valg af stof eller træ finish.
Hvad gør Echo stor er Amazons virtuelle assistent, Alexa. En ring af syv mikrofoner i toppen lytter ud for dit valg af kølvandet ord - standard er simpelthen ”Alexa” - før du sender, hvad du siger til Amazons servere til tolkning. Alexa kan næsten altid høre dig herunder over musik støj så højt som en emhætte og fra temmelig langt væk.
Alexa har multi-brugersupport, kan besvare en hel masse spørgsmål, er fremragende til at fortolke, hvad du siger, og har et væld af indbyggede talenter og tredjeparts færdigheder, som kan sættes i den, hvilket gør den til den mest afrundede stemme assistent til rådighed. Det udmærker sig især ved intelligente hjem kontrol og musikafspilning, med fuld voice kontrol over Spotify, Amazon Musik og TuneIn.
Den nye Echo lyder også bedre end den gamle, med mere bas og klarhed, især ved højere volumener. Selvom det ikke er den bedste i flok, det helt sikkert trykker over sin vægt for prisen, i stand til at fylde et rum med sin 360-graders lyd fra en enkelt 2.5in woofer og en 0.6in diskant. Det har endda en lydudgang og Bluetooth til tilslutning til højttalere og streaming af musik til eller fra Echo.
Amazons Alexa app er meget dygtige, hvis lidt træg, hvilket gør indstilling det op og skiftende tingene let. Knapper på toppen for volumen, en handling knap og en mute-knap er suppleret med en lys ring omkring toppen, der viser dig, hvad Alexa gør, og hvor Echo tror du taler fra. Mute mikrofoner og ringen lyser rødt, der er let at se fra hele rummet.
Bedømmelse: På £ 90, det er svært at slå Echo, med Alexa gør det til det bedste værdi all-round smarte højttaler.
Pris: £ 319 The newest entry is Apple’s HomePod and, with it, the iPhone-maker is finally joining the party more than three years after the first Echo hit the market. The HomePod is the biggest and most expensive smart speaker in the group, a mesh-covered cylinder with a flat silicone bottom and glossy, touch-sensitive disc on top.
Despite being large, it’s the most unassuming of the bunch and is as at home in the middle of the kitchen table as it is on a mantelpiece or bookshelf. Vær advaret, selv: the silicone foot will leave white ring marks on treated wood. The top has two hidden volume buttons and a centre multicolour display that shows when Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, is listening to you. It’s not the easiest to see from across the room and while you can mute the microphones, there’s no visible indication that the HomePod isn’t listening any more.
The HomePod is arguably the best-sounding speaker in the bunch. It has an array of seven tweeters and one woofer that creates the most expansive soundscape you’re likely to find from a single speaker. It automatically adjusts to its surroundings, creating an immersive experience no matter where it’s placed in the room, with deep but tightly controlled bass and excellent separation, meaning nothing gets lost, even in the crescendo.
While it sounds good, Apple’s Siri just isn’t up to the same standard as Google’s Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. It can hear you as well as the best of them, but understanding you is a different matter. Siri gets what you’re trying to say around 70% af tiden, which can be extremely frustrating, while its ability to answer questions and perform tasks just isn’t as good. There’s no multi-user account support, either, which means it’s less easy to get on with in a family home.
The HomePod also only supports Apple Music or iTunes Match, meaning no native Spotify or even radio beyond Beats 1. Music can be sent to it via AirPlay from an iOS device, Mac or iTunes on a PC, but Android devices are out and there’s no Bluetooth or line-in support. A modern iOS device is also needed to set up the HomePod, meaning it’s for all-Apple users only.
Bedømmelse: It sounds great but Siri, connectivity and music service support are way behind the competition.
Pris: £129 Google’s Home smart speaker is a smaller, chubbier device than most of the others. Instead of being a cylinder like the Echo or the HomePod, the Home looks like a vase with a white, soft-touch, white plastic top and fabric base (hiding a single speaker and two passive radiators).
The whole of the top panel is touch-sensitive. Tap the centre to activate Google Assistant and swipe your finger in circular motions to adjust the volume. A button on the back mutes the microphones. Hidden beneath the top surface is a ring of LEDs, which light up to show you what’s going on, making circling patterns when Assistant is responding or lighting up yellow when the mics are muted.
Google Home has two mics in the top that enable Assistant to hear you pretty well, over most noise and music, but not quite as well as the Echo. Assistant has a similar set of skills to Amazon’s Alexa with the best natural language recognition available – if you mess up your question, Assistant will normally be able to work out what you’re trying to ask, where others fail. It also has multi-user support, recognising different voices and making it easy to get music from your library or information from your calendar.
Assistant has the biggest information database, making it better than the rest at general knowledge, falling back to the web for further information, but its third-party apps and smart home control lag slightly behind Alexa.
The sound from the Home is rather more direct than the Echo, fired out the front. It has a relatively large amount of bass and can get pretty loud for a small speaker, but is less clear than the Echo. There’s no Bluetooth out or analogue socket, but it can natively play music from Spotify or Google Play Music or receive music via Bluetooth or Google Cast.
Bedømmelse: Google Assistant’s understanding and information access are unparalleled but Home is more expensive than the Echo.
Pris: £ 199 The Sonos One promises to be the jack of all trades. Sonos took the great Spille:1 bookshelf speaker, added a touch-sensitive top with buttons for volume and playback and perforated it with holes for a six-mic array in the top. Som sådan, the One is more at home on a bookshelf or similar than in the centre of a table, as its single woofer and tweeter face forwards rather than projecting sound in all directions.
Unlike any of the other speakers in this group, the One has the potential to support more than one voice assistant. Lige nu, it comes with Amazon’s Alexa, but the company is working on Google Assistant integration too.
It can hear you well and has two LEDs in the top. One indicates whether the mics are on and the other flashes when Alexa is working. Unlike the rest, the One also makes a beep when Alexa hears the wake word, making it easier to tell from across the room that it’s listening. The One supports most of Alexa’s functionality, including all the skills, smart home control and assistant features, plus full voice control of Spotify, Amazon Musik og TuneIn, but lacks voice calling and ebook playback.
Also unlike the rest, the One is fully capable of operating as a wifi speaker without Alexa. The Sonos app integrates almost every music service under the sun, including Apple Music, into one searchable place, or you can use Spotify Connect to play music. There’s no Bluetooth or analogue audio support, selv. You can also tweak the sound to your liking in the app and do what Sonos calls Trueplay tuning using an iOS device to optimise the sound for the room.
The One sounds great as an individual speaker, but sounds even better in a stereo pair, and can be linked with any one of the older Sonos speakers for multi-room audio.
Bedømmelse: This excellent-sounding speaker with Alexa is a tough combo to beat.
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