Bose’s Home Speaker 500 ($299) has Alexa, and a bit extra. It’s certainly not cheap, but this Bose speaker does sound pretty good (not as clear as the Sonos One, but great on the whole), and it gets loud. It has hands-free Alexa, Bluetooth, a 3.5-mm auxiliary port to connect directly to your phone or MP3 player, and six useful preset buttons you can assign to open a specific playlist or album from Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and TuneIn. The display on the front shows album art and a few other prompts but isn’t nearly as effective as those on true smart displays like the Echo Show.
The Harman Kardon Allure ($200) brings the bass. Harman Kardon’s shapely speaker (7/10, WIRED Review) is not for everyone. It’s bulky, has lights on it, and looks like an egg … but it also spits out wicked bass. Just keep in mind that it’s an Alexa third-party speaker, so it may have some compatibility issues if you already own other Alexa speakers.
What About Siri?
Apple has released two Siri-powered speakers. They aren’t in our top picks, so are they any good?
Apple’s HomePod ($299) is for Apple junkies. This Siri speaker sounds fantastic, but it’s only for people who live a complete Apple life. It works only with Apple Music (though that’s changing soon), and it can’t control as many devices as its competitors, yet it costs $299 on Apple’s store—and that’s down from its initial $349 price. Read our full review to see if it’s a good pick for you.
Apple also has a smaller speaker called the HomePod Mini ($100). It’s cool looking, but it has the same issues as the larger HomePod speaker, including that it’s a bit overpriced compared to the competition. You can get a full-size Nest or Echo speaker for the same money, and you should.
Why We Prefer Google Assistant Speakers (for Now)
There are a lot of reasons to love Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, and honestly, it works pretty well. If you want to use your voice assistant to shop or use Amazon services like Prime Music or Prime Video, chances are an Alexa-powered speaker is best for you.
Google Assistant has fewer skills and is compatible with fewer smart home devices than Alexa, but it can do enough to qualify it as truly useful, and Google is adding new skills at a rapid pace. Speakers with Google Assistant work better when you network them together, and they’re compatible with a wide variety of Google apps and services. Google is better at answering random questions and telling you where to go out to eat, since it can access and send information to your phone through Google apps.