Move over, Alexa. While Amazon pioneered the internet-connected speaker that responds to voice commands, it now has plenty of competition from other tech heavyweights. Even the original Amazon Echo has six Alexa-powered alternatives vying for your attention and dollars.
Digital assistants on these speakers — Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and soon Apple’s Siri — can play music, set timers and read off your calendar events. These speakers can also serve as a gateway to controlling other internet-connected appliances, such as smart lights, thermostats and even streaming video on TVs.
Here’s a guide to choosing one for you or a loved one.
Amazon’s $100 Echo is smaller and costs half what the original did at its 2014 debut. Variations range from the $50 Echo Dot, which has a lower-quality speaker, to the $230 Echo Show, which has a touch screen.
Google’s speaker, the $129 Google Home, no longer challenges the main Echo on price. Bargain hunters can get the Google Home Mini [pictured here] for $49. Or splurge for high-quality speakers in the $399 Google Home Max.
Early next year, Apple will compete at the high end with the $349 HomePod. Beyond that, Microsoft’s assistant appears on Invoke, a $199 speaker made by Samsung’s Harman Kardon business. Samsung is also planning a speaker based on its own Bixby assistant, but there’s no word yet on when.
Other manufacturers are also making speakers with Alexa or Google Assistant built-in.
You can talk to Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana as you would a friend. Ask any of them, “Do I need an umbrella today?” to get the forecast for rain. (Siri’s capabilities on HomePod won’t be fully known until it comes out.)
Nonetheless, no single assistant does everything well. Alexa, for instance, won’t let you set an alarm more than 24 hours out; its rivals do.
Source: Mobile Tech Today