Cool Smart Speakers You Can Shop for Your Futuristic Home

They're pretty eye-catching, too!

smart speakers
PHOTO BY Data Blitz, Apple, Mi ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) Once the stuff of science-fiction shows like Star Trek, voice-activated devices have slowly integrated itself in our daily lives. Mostly available in phones, popular voice-assistant software from the likes of Apple, Google, and Amazon have made their jump to standalone smart devices. 

The most popular form factor for these smart devices is the smart speaker which is the perfect example of a converged device. From productivity to entertainment, a smart speaker with built-in virtual assistant can help users with their daily tasks even without using a smartphone. While often bought as a standalone device, a smart speaker often becomes the gateway into the wonderful world of connected smart devices.

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Want to give smart speakers a try? Here are the most popular compact smart speakers you can shop now:

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) (P3,350)

smart speakers
PHOTO BY Data Blitz
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The Echo Dot is one of the most popular smart speakers, and its latest version—fourth, to be exact—has a compact spherical shape which is quite different from the earlier puck-shaped models. It comes in three colors—Charcoal, Glacier White and Twilight Blue. With its affordable price, the Echo Dot is a good entry point to Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart device ecosystem. 

On its own, the Echo Dot has decent sound for its size although it’s lacking in heavy bass. What’s front and center is Alexa’s myriad capabilities which are immediately accessible through the speaker. You can ask the Echo Dot to do an Internet search, read the news, report the weather, play podcasts and audiobooks, engage in trivia games, set your schedule and alarms, and of course play music. It works with most music apps like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. You can even add apps to your Echo Dot to expand its repertoire of services. Although it’s a standalone device, the Echo Dot can be connected to a separate speaker via Bluetooth or line out for more powerful sound. It can also connect to a second Echo Dot for stereo sound. As an Internet of Things device, it can be used to control Alexa-compatible smart home devices such as switches, cameras, and lightbulbs, among others. 

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Available at Data Blitz.

Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen) (P1,650)

smart speakers
PHOTO BY Google

The Google Nest Mini lives up to its name as an ultra-compact smart speaker. Now on its second generation, this smart speaker’s tiny dimensions makes it easy to place just about anywhere. Its relatively low price makes it also an ideal starter smart speaker. It uses three far-field microphones to hear your voice from across the room and recognizes up to six voices, while its 40mm driver delivers 360-degree sound.

The Nest Mini is baked in with Google Assistant and can be controlled using your voice or your mobile phone. Because of Google integration, you can ask the Nest Mini to do your search, stream music, listen to podcasts, read the news, and send e-mails via voice commands. Connecting to Chromecast, Spotify, YouTube and other apps that support the Google ecosystem is relatively an easy affair. Plus, the speaker can connect to other Bluetooth-enabled speakers for enhanced sound and uses WiFi to connect to other smart devices. The Nest Mini is available in four eye-pleasing colors making it easy to match any interior.

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Available at Data Blitz.

Apple HomePod Mini (U.S. $99, roughly P4,787.89)

smart speakers
PHOTO BY Apple

Apple’s smart speaker hits all the right notes. As the successor to the first HomePod, the HomePod Mini is designed to fill a small room with 360-degree sound thanks to its full range driver and fancy audio processing tech. Being an Apple product, HomePod Mini works best with other Apple devices and services. For example, you could hand off the music that’s playing on an iPhone just by placing it near the speaker. The speaker can also be used to enhance the sound from an Apple TV or play music from a Mac computer.

Siri handles the intelligent assistant duties on the HomePod Mini. That includes being able to ask Siri to do online searches, play music and podcasts, set appointments, and command other Apple HomeKit-compatible smart devices. With four built-in mics, the speaker can easily recognize up to six different voices and respond with specific content for each voice. The speaker can also connect to another HomePod Mini speaker to create rich stereo sound.

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Available online.

Mi Smart Speaker (P2,290)

smart speakers
PHOTO BY Mi

On specs alone, the Mi Smart Speaker looks great for the price. With a 63.5mm sound driver and 12W of power, its sound can adequately fill a small room. The DTS Professional-tuned audio ensures a more balanced delivery of mids, treble, and bass. Sound-wise, it’s a notch above the Nest Mini. RGB light ring effects on top of the speaker makes the speaker more visually interesting. Two far-field microphones detect your voice when using the built-in Google Assistant. By saying “Hey Google”, you can immediately access all the available Google Assistant services such as music streaming, search, set alarms, and other voice-enabled activities. The Mi Smart Speaker is also compatible with Google Chromecast devices such as TVs, letting you stream audio directly. It can also pair with another Mi Smart Speaker for stereo sound and with other Mi smart devices that works with Google Assistant.

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Available online.

JBL Link 10 (P7,499)

PHOTO BY JBL

The JBL Link 10 is a smart speaker that is designed to be more portable than regular Google Assistant-powered speakers. The cylinder-shaped speaker works great both indoors and outdoors, with a built-in rechargeable 4,000mah battery—it means it can go for five hours unplugged! Thanks to a rugged rubber housing and IPX7 rating, the Link 10 can survive a few tumbles, rain splashes, and even submersion for 30 minutes.

Setting up the speaker is as easy as opening the Google Home app for Android and iOS devices, which can also be used to connect the Link 10 to other Chromecast-enabled speakers for multi-room playback. The speaker uses two microphones to pick up voice commands, and there are LEDs on top of the device that indicate when the speaker is ready to hear your commands. The lights also serve as battery life indicator.

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Available online.

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