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10 best smart speakers for 2022

We’ve rounded up the best smart speakers on the market, saving even Alexa herself a job.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jan 27, 2022

Smart speaker on a table

Smart speakers have quickly gone from being a futuristic bit of fun to something most of us have (or definitely want) in our homes. With so many useful features as well as the wonderful prospect of a house free of CDs and vinyl, we can see why they’re so popular.

There are all kinds of smart speakers on the market, from portable ones for the garden to super high-tech versions that will virtually cook the kids’ tea for you. So we’ve rounded up some of the best on the market to save you the legwork.  

Here are the best smart speakers available now.

1. Best overall smart speaker: Amazon Echo 4th Generation (2020)

Amazon Echo 4th gen speaker

Price:  £89.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Amazon’s 2020 iteration of its flagship smart speaker should give you a bit of everything for an excellent price. 

The sound quality is much improved from the previous Echo, with a much richer and rounder sound and, although reviews point out that it doesn’t go as loud as some smart speakers, how often do you really want it up to eleven in a family home anyway? We think it goes loud enough and the quality is impressive. 

Where previous Echo models were cylindrical, this one is a sphere shape, which we have to say looks just a bit smarter and more futuristic, even if it’s less easy to dust.  

Other than that, the 2020 Echo does everything you’d expect, but really well. You can stream music, make phone calls and chat with other Echo devices in your home, as well as asking Alexa questions on everything like who succeeded George III to what the weather is going to be like on Wednesday. There are lots of Alexa skills available that kids will enjoy too, from playing rock, paper, scissors to reading them a bedtime story. 

One of the most impressive features is the fact that it links to any Zigbee devices you may use, such as light bulbs and thermostats. This was once a feature you had to pay extra for, so it’s great to see it included in the price here. 

 For an all-round people-pleaser for everyone in the family, especially if this is your first foray into the world of smart speakers, you really can’t go wrong with the Echo 2020. 

Pros

  • Built-in Zigbee home hub
  • Excellent adaptive sound

Cons

  • Its loudest volume isn’t quite as clear as some

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 970g
  • Size: 14.4 x 14.4 x 13.3 cm

2. Best budget smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen

Amazon Echo Dot speaker

Price: £49.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“Love this. Main reason for buying it was to play music and stories for the children without interacting with a screen. You can ask for a lot of info, such as: ‘How much are flights to Berlin in February?’, and get useful answers. The sound quality is good as well.”

This cricket-ball-shaped mini speaker is an upgrade on the previous puck-shaped model that came before it. The new version impressed critics no end when it came out with its excellent ability to make the most of every sound and put out quite a volume in spite of its diminutive size. The clarity of Alexa’s voice is also much improved on previous iterations of the Dot.  

It’s perfect for streaming music, audiobooks and podcasts as well as listening to news and weather reports. And Alexa herself is always on hand to answer questions, give recommendations and tell your kids a joke when needed. You can also use the device to call others, intercom other Alexa devices in your home and control other smart devices such as your lights and thermostat. 

Retailing at just under £50, this is a great little buy, but it’s worth watching out for deals on Amazon such as Prime Day when it’s often featured at half its RRP. 

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Compact design
  • Really easy to set up

Cons

  • Ideally needs to be placed in a corner for best sound

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 328g
  • Size: 10 x 10 x 8.9cm 

3. Best mini smart speaker: Apple HomePod Mini

Apple HomePod mini speaker

Price: £99 | Buy now from Argos

“I've got an Apple HomePod. The sound is fantastic and it's really compact.”

Apple fans will feel right at home with the HomePod, which also gets great reviews, but this mini version is a fabulous price and still has all of its great sound and reassuringly familiar software. You do need an Apple Music subscription so if you don’t have that anyway it’s something to factor in, but it’s a good service and music sounds great, even from this compact speaker (if you pair two you get a really rich, immersive sound). 

The HomePod is ‘assisted’ by Siri, who, it must be said, doesn’t get the rave reviews of Google or Alexa, but it’s a reasonable service. You can ask for the news, weather, sports reports and everything else you’d expect in that vein (though you can’t access Spotify or BBC News through Siri) and you can also set reminders for yourself, create shopping lists and send messages. 

We love the sweet, round style of this little Apple. It would be perfect for a study or your bedside table, and if sound quality is high on your priority list, it’s a great buy. 

Pros

  • Excellent sound
  • Compact size
  • Good price

Cons

  • No full-control app
  • Siri isn’t the best home assistant
  • You need an Apple Music subscription plus iPhone or iPad for full functionality

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Siri
  • Compatibility: iOS
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 345g
  • Size: 8.4 x 9.8 x 9.8cm

4. Best smart speaker with a display: Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen

Google Nest smart display

Price: £69.99 | Buy now from Currys

“We’ve used Hive and Nest. I prefer Nest. The app is better, and (as they’re a bigger company) it’s compatible with more systems. We’re very happy with it.”

If you want a smart speaker with the added bonus of visibility the Google Nest Hub is a great buy at an amazing price. It does everything you’d expect a smart speaker to do but it can also be used to watch along to recipes while you cook, check in on your smart doorbell, or just entertain the kids on Disney Plus while you work. It also can be used as a digital photo frame. 

It works really well in the kitchen to display Google calendar or as a spare screen to stream something on while you potter (Netflix, All 4 and Disney Plus are all compatible), but many people use it as an alarm clock and it has some pretty nifty sleep features on it. The Hub uses Soli radar sensors to track your sleep, tell you how long you snored, and how many restless periods you had in the night.  

And if you’re sick of shouting “Hey Google!”, it’s good to know the Nest Hub can also be controlled by motion. Just wave a hand in front of the screen to stop an alarm or turn music off etc. 

Pros

  • Includes visual display
  • Works as a kitchen hub or as a fancy alarm clock in the bedroom
  • Compatible with 200 smart devices from 50 brands

Cons

  • Sound is fine but not amazing
  • You need an app to use it for phone calls
  • No camera

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Google
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 560g
  • Size: 12 x 18 x 7cm

5. Best high-end smart speaker: Amazon Echo Show 10

Amazon Echo Show 10

Price: £239.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I've got a Show in my room and in the kitchen, and have the Dot in the hall, living room and kids room. I much prefer the Show. Just being able to see my calendar and shopping list and I ask it to play movie trailers etc.”

The Echo Show 10 is something just a little bit special. As well as all the usual skills you’d expect on an Amazon Echo (music streaming, reminders, calls and the like), this has both a smart screen (like the Google Hub Nest) and also a 13mp camera, which allows you to make video calls that are much clearer and better quality than Zoom (the device supports Skype currently and it’s rumoured that it will soon support Zoom too).

The screen also adapts its colour to the light to give the most lifelike temperature and picture colour. But the super clever bit is that the camera allows the device to follow you around the room, much like Facebook Portal. So whether you’re on a video call while you’re running around after the kids or are watching a movie on Prime Video while cooking dinner, the screen is always facing you and you won’t miss a thing. Alexa can also show you your security cameras and Ring doorbell, as well as turning lights on and off and heating up and down as and when it’s needed. 

This is a fairly pricey model but if you think you’ll use all the cool features, it’s well worth the expense and is a bit like living in The Jetsons’ house; something we all aspire to. 

Pros

  • Great for video calls
  • ‘Follows’ you around the room

Cons

  • Limited support for third party streaming apps
  • More expensive than most
  • Motion tracking is time-consuming to set up

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 2.56kg
  • Size: 25 x 23 x 17 cm

6. Best smart speaker for audio quality: Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon Echo Studio speaker

 Price: £189.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“You can get an Echo Dot which is the lowest quality sound, or an Echo Studio is much much better sound.”  

If excellent sound quality is at the top of your wishlist it might be worth shelling out for the Echo Studio which, as well as offering all the standard Echo skills such as music streaming, voice calling, reminders, alarms and the like, also includes five speakers for ‘3D sound’. This means the sound doesn’t reduce in quality the louder you go like with some smart speakers. 

Most people use the Studio in whichever room their TV is in to give them a cinema-style immersive experience and, while it’s not the best surround-sound speaker you can buy, it is pretty impressive and you certainly won’t find anything better for this price. So if you’re in the market for a smart speaker anyway and fancy upgrading your TV speaker, or just want amazing quality music streamed into your home,  this kills at least two birds with one stone.

It’s also smart enough to adapt its own sound for any size or shape of room for optimal quality, so there’s no need to be fiddling around to adjust for acoustics. 

All in all, this is excellent value for the design and tech you’re getting and will delight in so many ways. 

Pros

  • 3D sound
  • Very easy to set up

Cons

  • Quite big
  • As a TV speaker alone it’s not the best on the market
  • Doesn’t have a remote control, which makes it tricky to adjust the volume when a film is playing

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 3.5kg
  • Size: 20.6 x 17.5 cm

 

7. Best smart speaker for playing music: Bose Home Speaker 500

Bose Home Speaker 500

Price: £279 | Buy now from Amazon

“The Bose is really good. We also have a Wonderboom for the bathroom which is fairly punchy but not quite as refined as the Bose.”

For fabulous sound Bose is always a good brand to plump for and this smart home speaker is no exception. Two speakers that point in opposite directions are designed to bounce off the walls, filling the room with sound.

It also has eight microphones which means the device can easily hear you, even when the music is thumping, which is a huge boon as anyone who has ever hoarsely yelled: “ALEXA. VOLUME THREE”, in vain over the top of a heavy bass will know. We also like the small LED screen on the front which displays the track you’re playing.

Alexa or Google Assist are on hand to help you manage your music, set reminders and ask questions too.  

The Bose Home isn’t cheap but it does offer some of the best sound quality on the market, so if you’re a music fiend it’s definitely worth a look alongside some of the higher-end Echo devices. 

Pros

  • Hosts both Alexa and Google
  • Excellent sound quality

Cons

  • Fairly expensive

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa, Google Assist 
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 2.1kg
  • Size: 20.3 x 17.0 x 10.9 cm

8. Best waterproof smart speaker: Ultimate Ears Megablast

Ultimate Ears Megablast

Price: From £163.73 | Buy now from Amazon

“Really portable, great sound and battery life, and waterproof!”

Slim, sleek and swimming pool ready (waterproof to depths of a metre for 30 minutes), the Ultimate Ears Megablast is the ‘little sister’ to the Megaboom, and no less noisy for it. For a portable speaker it can be really loud when turned up and it has an excellent quality of sound too.

It’s ideal for garden gatherings and will even survive a drop in the swimming pool (or paddling pool, depending on your facilities). It’s also great for a long soak in the bath if you want to relax to your favourite podcast or playlist. 

Its assistant is Alexa and you pretty much get the same service you would from any of the Amazon Echo products, just without the ability to make internet calls to UK numbers that you have with the Amazon products. 

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Compact
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Quite heavy 

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 640g
  • Size: 1.9 x 6.8 x 6.8cm

9. Best smart speaker for the home: Sonos One

Sonos One speaker

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

“It's very easy to set up and use (through iPad/iPhone app), and I say that as one who isn't particularly tech-savvy. The sound is good and you can add more players for different rooms (and, crucially, play tracks in different rooms).”

One of the earliest smart speakers where the speaker came first and the voice assistant was an add-on, the Sonos One still offers the great quality sound you would expect, along with Alexa and Google assistants. Airplay also allows it to talk to Siri and pair with the Apple HomePod.  

There’s no bluetooth here but you can stream using any of the usual music services. 

It has a weightier feel than some home speakers but it’s not claiming to be portable and we rather liked the fact that it felt genuinely solid and well made. It really sounds like a big speaker too, despite its small size, and works well in open-plan and larger rooms. If you pair it with a second ‘One’ in the same room you get a beautiful depth of sound, but really one in each room is more than adequate so you can ‘talk’ to each other.

For a family home, where you want something sturdy with excellent sound and the convenience of a choice of voice assistants, this won’t disappoint. 

Pros

  • Very easy to set up

Cons

  • No Bluetooth compatibility

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa, Google Assist, Siri
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? No
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 1.85kg
  • Size: 12 x 12 16.2g

 

10. Best portable speaker: Sonos Roam

Sonos Roam speaker

Price: £159 | Buy now from Amazon

“My best buy this year? The Sonos Move was pretty great.”

If you hanker after the Sonos One but need something that works on the move too, check out the Sonos Roam. With 11 hours of battery life and Qi wireless charging, it’s super convenient and great for taking into the garden or on holiday (WiFi permitting, though you can use Bluetooth too). It’s lightweight and weatherproof so the odd shower isn’t a concern, and it’s drop-proof and waterproof to a metre (for half an hour) too. 

The Roam works with all the main streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and TuneIn.  

Both Google and Alexa voice assistants are here, so when you need to pause The Archers to check when Grace Archer died, there’s help on hand. But by far the most impressive feature is the inclusion of Sonos’s Auto Trueplay EQ Tuning which scans its surroundings to create the best sound for its environment. Goodbye, tinny outdoor speakers. 

Pros

  • Weatherproof
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Setting up voice assistant is slightly tricky

Key specs

  • Virtual assistant: Alexa, Google Assist
  • Compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Bluetooth? Yes
  • WiFi? Yes
  • Weight: 400kg
  • Size: 6 x 6 x 17cm

What is a smart speaker?

Smart speakers are essentially a way of listening to music and more, with the aid of a virtual assistant who responds to your voice. As well as asking them to play music or the radio, they can also do things like tell you the weather in your area, play news reports, recommend restaurants, and control smart home devices to put lights on and off, adjust your heating and a lot more. Less importantly, but good to know, they can also help with homework, read your children bedtime stories, tell jokes and make fart noises. So they’re a lot of fun, too.  

Usually you ‘wake’ the speaker with a word, e.g. “Alexa!” or “OK Google” and then ask your question or tell it what to do. You’ll eventually get used to how to word things to get the result you want. 

How do I choose a smart speaker? 

Smart speakers can be expensive and are very frustrating if you aren’t getting good usability from them so it’s well worth doing your research before you buy. Here are a few things to consider. 

  • Compatibility: Most importantly make sure your smart speaker is compatible with the phone or device you’ll be using it with. Most work across all platforms but, for example, Apple HomePods only work with Apple devices. Check that your phone or tablet will be ok with it before you buy.
  • The assistant: Look at which systems the smart speaker uses and consider which you use the most too. The main three brands are Echos (Amazon), Google Home (Google, obviously) and Apple’s HomePods, but there are other brand that come with Alexa, for example, built in and we’ve featured a few here in case you don’t want to go down the route of any of the big three. If you do a lot of shopping through Amazon, an Echo will make a big difference to your life. We love the shopping list feature on it, and you can also buy direct with a command to Alexa (though switch that off if you’ve got kids of a certain age before the DS games and Lego start unexpectedly arriving on the doormat). Equally, if you’re a lover of Google and want it to be compatible with your calendar, Gmail etc., a Google Home speaker would be best. And if you stream regularly through Apple one of their products would be worth splashing out on. Just sit down and think about how you want to use it. 
  • Size: Obviously the bigger the speaker the better the sound quality. If it’s going to be your main method of listening to music something bigger would be worth it, whereas if you still love your vinyl or CDs and have decent speakers for that, you might just want an Echo Dot for doing a bit of shopping and setting reminders. 
  • Location: Think about whether you want the speaker in just one room or to work as more of a network. You could have one large smart speaker and then Dots in the kids’ bedrooms so you can call them down for dinner easily. Think about whether you want to be able to play the same music throughout the house or have the ability for everyone to listen to their own thing in different rooms. 

Is Echo better than Google?

It really depends on what’s important to you. Amazon Echo and Google Assist are the big two and you can’t ‘mix and match’ so be prepared to commit to one or the other. Here are some fast facts that might help you choose your allegiances.  

You might prefer an Amazon Echo if…

  • You have a Prime account.
  • You use Prime Video and Prime Music and would like to use them more.
  • You want to use the smart speaker to make phone calls, either within your home to other Echos or to friends and family with Echos. 
  • You shop regularly on Amazon.
  • You like the idea of using the wide range of Alexa skills (Google doesn’t have as many).

You might prefer a Google smart speaker if…

  • You’re already happily using Google Assist or Google Now on your android phone.
  • Music and sound quality is the most important thing to you; speakers work better networked together on Google Assist and generally speaking, the sound quality is considered to be better on the Google products. Google also lets you upload your music to its cloud. 
  • You want the best recommendations for going out as it can access information about shops, restaurants etc. and send that info to your phone through your Google Apps. 
  • You want answers! Alexa might be more fun and have quirkier skills but if you just want info at your fingertips, Google wins hands down. 
  • You like a chat. Google can pick up where you left off and is more naturally conversational; Alexa is a bit more like talking to a robot (which you are, but you know…)
  • You want to use several accounts on the one device. Google Home automatically recognises up to six voices and uses that account, whereas you have to tell Alexa to switch over. 

What is the best smart speaker? 

For its all round versatility and excellent features we think the best smart speaker on the market is the Amazon Echo 4th Generation

How we chose our recommendations

There’s a lot of tech to get your head around with smart speakers so we first read a lot of tech reviews to see how the various products compared and satisfy the geek within us all, and made a note of which brands the tech experts rated highest. We then looked at consumer reviews to find out whether customers had been satisfied after purchase too. 

Finally, we approached our favourite experts, the Mumsnet users on our Talk boards, to ask which smart speakers they’d bought and whether they would buy the same again or would recommend something different. 

We pooled all this information to put together a top 10 list of the products that were recommended most frequently. 

Why you should trust us

We spend hours researching, speaking to parents, analysing data and listening to experts. Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about how we tested the products we recommend. We won't always recommend the cheapest products or the ones with the most extra features. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones we'd recommend to our own friends and family.

We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful and independent review pieces like this one.