Alexa, one of the world’s most popular digital assistants, is seemingly everywhere in 2019. Just about everything supports Alexa one way or another, with the most popular way to access the assistant being through smart speakers. We think the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) is the best overall speaker for everyone, as it strikes a great balance of features and price. If that’s not your thing, we have seven other recommendations to check out, too. Let’s dive in!
Best Overall: Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)
At the top of our list, we have the Amazon Echo. This is the new 3rd Gen model that Amazon recently unveiled at its big fall hardware event, and we think it strikes the best balance of offering a great user experience while coming in at a competitive price tag.
The design of the Echo is as strong as ever, featuring a fabric cover that’s available in four colors that should look great in just about any home. Underneath that striking housing is a powerful speaker that offers deep bass and 360-degree audio. In fact, this is the same sound quality that was previously limited to the more expensive Echo Plus.
Everything from podcasts to music sounds great on the Echo (3rd Gen), and while it isn’t the very best money can buy, it’s darn impressive for this price segment.
The Echo also comes equipped with a physical microphone mute button, can be paired with other Echo speakers for multi-room audio, and has a 3.5mm headphone jack that can be used for plugging your phone in and playing music directly through that.
- Great sound with powerful bass
- Beautiful fabric design
- Not too big — can fit in most rooms
- Microphone mute button
- Priced right
- Better sound available for more money
Best Value: Amazon Echo Dot with Clock
The Echo Dot has long been one of the most popular Alexa speakers on the market. With the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) with Clock, you get everything that makes the Echo Dot great, plus a built-in digital clock.
A lot of people use smart speakers to ask for the time, and by building a clock into the Echo Dot, you now have one less command you need to call out. Amazon did this quite seamlessly, with the LED display showing the time shining from behind the fabric as if it was there the whole time. Along with the current time, it can also be used to display the outdoor temperature and any timers you have set.
Everything else about the Echo Dot with Clock is the same as the normal Echo Dot. Sound quality is surprisingly good considering its small size, you can fit it in virtually any room, and alarms can be snoozed just by tapping the top of it.
The Echo Dot is both a great entry-level speaker and if you already have a bunch of Alexa speakers and want another one for a smaller room (such as a mudroom or closet).
- It’s wonderfully small
- LED display shows the time, temperature, and timers
- Good audio quality considering its size
- Works well with other Echo speakers
- Lackluster speakers compared to other picks on this list
Best Cheap Speaker: Eufy Genie
Speaking of affordable Alexa speakers, we need to mention the Eufy Genie. This is the cheapest gadget on our entire list, making it a great fit for bargain-hunters.
The Eufy Genie is similar to the Echo Dot in size, making it easy to place in even the smallest of rooms. It takes up virtually no table or counter space, and while it doesn’t look as flashy as the Echo Dot, it gets the job done.
You’ll find a 2W speaker in the Eufy Genie, which is fine. It gets the job done for casual music listening and binging through your favorite podcast, but this is definitely the weakest option in regards to audio quality. Then again, when you’re spending such a small amount of money, that’s to be expected.
Alexa works on the Eufy Genie just like it does on any other speaker, allowing you to ask about the weather, control smart home devices, and get answers to any random questions that pop in your head throughout the day.
- Small size
- Full-fledged Alexa experience
- Microphone mute button
- Ridiculously cheap
- Boring design
- Lackluster audio quality
Best Soundbar: Nebula Soundbar Fire TV Edition
Let’s take a quick break from speakers to talk about soundbars — specifically, the Nebula Soundbar Fire TV Edition. For Alexa fans, this is the soundbar to get.
The Nebula Soundbar is made by Anker, a company that’s proven to know a thing or two about crafting quality audio products over the years. The Soundbar looks to keep that trend going, offering 2.1 “cinematic sound” thanks to a combination of two speakers and two subwoofers. That’s equivalent to 100W of power, resulting in booming sound no matter what it is you’re watching.
Alexa is also built into the Nebula Soundbar, allowing you to press the Alexa button on the included Voice Remote to ask the assistant whatever you’d like.
On top of being a soundbar and Alexa-enabled speaker, the Nebula pulls triple-duty by also functioning as a Fire TV device. When plugged into your television, it gives you access to the Fire TV ecosystem for streaming all of your favorite shows and music. In a home with lots of Alexa speakers, watching all your content through Fire TV just makes sense thanks to the tight integration between the two platforms.
- 2.1 cinematic sound
- Adds Fire TV to your existing television
- Supports 4K HDR streaming
- Incredible value
- You need to use the remote to talk to Alexa
Best Audio Quality: Amazon Echo Studio
Moving back to regular speakers, it’s about time we said something about the Echo Studio. This is one of the newest additions to Amazon’s Echo family, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most impressive models we’ve ever seen.
The big draw to the Echo Studio is its sound quality. This is the aspect of the speaker Amazon is pushing the most, and for good reason. The Echo Studio is outfitted with five “strategically positioned speakers,” with the goal being to provide you with room-filling audio that sounds great no matter where in the room it’s placed.
Speaking of room placement, the Echo Studio will sense the size and shape of where you place it and adapt its speakers accordingly — ensuring that everything is tuned just right. Dolby Atmos is also onboard, as are “new music formats that have been mastered in 3D.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the Echo Studio goes a step further by functioning as a Zigbee smart home hub. So, if you have smart bulbs, switches, or other gadgets that use the Zigbee platform, the Echo Studio can act as a central hub for them.
- Five speakers for jaw-dropping sound
- Dolby Atmos support
- Speakers adapt to your room
- Built-in Zigbee smart home hub
- Unique design
Best Display: Amazon Echo Show 8
The Echo Show series is Amazon’s collection of Alexa speakers with displays slapped onto them, and right now, our current favorite is the Echo Show 8. This is the latest addition to the Echo Show family, sitting right in the middle between the Echo Show (2nd Gen) with its 10-inch display and the teeny-tiny Echo Show 5.
So, what makes the Echo Show 8 stand out from the other two Shows? The value proposition here is really strong. The 8-inch HD display is a great size; it’s large enough so you can easily follow recipes and watch videos while being small enough so that it doesn’t take up too much space on your countertop. The Echo Show 8 can be used on its own, or with an optional stand that allows you to change the viewing angle.
Above the screen is a camera that can be used for video calls, and when you aren’t using it, there’s a physical camera cover to give you some enhanced privacy. Audio quality on the Echo Show 8 is also promising, with two 2-inch speakers at 10W per channel almost matching the speakers on the larger Echo Show.
Tie all of that together with a competitive price tag, and the Echo Show 8 is a compelling option.
- Good-sized HD display
- Powerful speakers
- Camera with physical cover
- Competitive price
- Optical stand for more viewing angles
- Camera is just 1-megapixel
Best Portable Speaker: Sonos Move
All of the Alexa speakers on this list are awesome in their unique ways, but there’s one downside they all have in common — they have to be plugged in at all times. Well, all of them except the Sonos Move.
The Sonos Move is a wireless Alexa-enabled speaker, and while it does cost a pretty penny, it does just about everything right. Sonos is well-known for its excellent audio, and the Move is no exception to that rule. It’s a joy to listen to, with audio that envelopes you and bass that kicks and punches with great force.
There’s a handle on the back of the Move for carrying it around with you, and it’s extremely comfortable. The Move is quite chunky, but the handle makes it easy for anyone to move it.
We’re also impressed with the Sonos Move’s battery life, well-designed charging dock, and water/dust resistance. Being able to use both Alexa and Google Assistant is a real treat as well, even if the microphones aren’t always the most accurate.
- Room-filling sound with big bass
- Built-in handle works incredibly well
- Battery life is great
- Water/dust resistant
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Iffy microphone performance
- Large and heavy
Best Multi-Purpose Speaker: Sonos One (Gen 2)
At the tail-end of this list, we’ve got the Sonos One (Gen 2). The Sonos One has built up quite the reputation over the years, and for good reason. This is an insanely powerful speaker.
For starters, Sonos’s design and audio quality are as strong as ever on the One. This is one of the smallest and cheapest speakers the company sells, but it still looks and sounds incredible. For a speaker of this size, this is some of the best audio you’ll come across.
You can talk to Alexa just as you would on any other Alexa speaker, but the Sonos One does something interesting — it allows you to switch to the Google Assistant! You can only use one of these at a time, but having that option to go back and forth between different assistants is pretty cool. There’s also support for Apple’s AirPlay 2, making this a great fit for those of you with an iPhone.
And, of course, the Sonos One works seamlessly with all of Sonos’s other speakers. Sonos speakers are among the easiest to set up and pair, making it extremely easy to get multi-room audio working in no time at all.
- Rich, clear, and booming sound
- Simple design
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- AirPlay 2 support
- Connects with other Sonos speakers
- Microphones can be hit-or-miss
There’s no shortage of Alexa-enabled speakers these days, but out of everything being offered, we think that the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) is the one most folks should go out and buy.
No, it’s not the very best Alexa speaker money can buy, but it does represent one of the best values out there. This latest model has considerably improved audio quality, meaning that music and podcasts sound better than they ever have. The design of the Echo is also a strong suit, with the classy fabric allowing it to fit nicely in any home.
Add that together with excellent microphone performance and that price tag, and the Echo (3rd Gen) is a compelling product. Whether you already have Alexa speakers in your home or are looking to buy your very first one, this is one that should be at the top of your shopping list.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is Android Central’s News Editor. He loves talking about all things tech, but he has an especially strong interest in smart home gadgets. He also likes coffee and goes to Starbucks far too often. Have a tip? Send an email to email@example.com or hit him up on Twitter @JoeMaring1
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