Toni asked: “I know I am late with my Christmas shopping, but I’d like to purchase one of those, I don’t know if it’s Amazon, or Google, or Alexa. I’m not very technically aware. What are they and which one is better?”
Toni, both Google and Amazon have smart speakers, Alexa is just the name of the assistant on Amazon’s speakers.
Amazon has the largest lineup of the two, you can buy the Dot, Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, or Echo Show. Both the Spot and the Show have screens and cameras built in, so they may not be what you’re after, but they can do what the other speakers can and cost $129 and $229 respectively, in case you’re interested.
As far as the speaker lineup goes, the $49 Dot is the smallest one and it’s mainly a gateway to Alexa that can be plugged into a secondary speaker. The sound is not bad at all for the size of the device, but it’s probably not what you want if you’re planning to use it primarily for music.
The $99 Echo and $150 Echo Plus are both capable speakers, with the plus being the best sounding one, but the Echo Plus also acts as a smart home hub. If you’re building a smarthome the Plus may be a better deal as it replaces a separate hub that you’d otherwise probably have to buy.
Google has answer to each of those speakers, but we should probably start out by letting you know that right now Google Home is 3 times less popular than Amazon’s Echo, we don’t know how that will evolve in the future, but as of right now Amazon is leading the pack and is likely to attract more smarthome products.
Google’s answer to the Dot is the $49 Home Mini, it’s similarly sized and shaped, and like the Dot it’s primarily a gateway to the company’s assistant, in this case Google Assistant. The closest one to Amazon’s Echo is the $129 Google Home, which is a little flower vase looking thing that can act as a decent speaker, but the serious speaker is the $399 Google Home Max.
If you own an Android phone, a Chromecast, and use Google’s services, the Google lineup will probably make more sense to you, since it can interact with those devices and services. If you don’t, but you have a Prime membership, or shop on Amazon a lot, the Echo line will probably work better for you.
Both Google and Amazon are using these devices as gateways to the rest of their products, so you’re probably better off choosing the ecosystem you already use the most.