For as long as there have been dreams of what the future may hold, the idea of an artificially intelligent assistant has always been part of the equation. The future, as it seems, has finally begun to catch up to our imaginations, and while the realization that the AI assistant looks less like Robbie or C3PO and more like Hal and Jarvis, they are nonetheless shaping up to be a staple of the modern home.
With any popular new tech, there is lots of competition out there, and in the realm of smart home speakers, the two main contenders are the Amazon Echo and Google Home families of smart devices. But which is better? The answer is, predictably, a complicated one, and that’s why BFads.net has broken down the features and options on both Amazon and Google devices to bring you our pick for the best smart home speaker.
Assistant – Alexa vs Ok, Google
The main selling point of having a smart speaker in your home is it’s always just waiting for an opportunity to be helpful. These devices are always listening for a trigger word that lets them know they are needed, either “Alexa” for Echo or “Okay, Google” for Home, and then do their best to help solve the issue or need that you may have.
They are both capable and worthwhile AI helpers, each having their own strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, but according to studies done by PC Mag, Trusted Reviews, CNet, and research group Stone Temple, there is a clear winner here when drilling down to which assistant is objectively better.
Google Assistant has a slight advantage over Alexa by simply understanding your question and producing the correct and expected answer a higher percentage of the time. It’s not that Google Assistant is more capable (Alexa actually has wider third-party app support), but it’s better at understanding natural language than Alexa. You can still get the same information you want from Alexa, but it requires you to adhere to a strict syntax, which turns your interactions into just issuing commands that you’ve memorized rather than simply asking your AI buddy for help.
Winner: Google Assistant
Amazon is largely responsible for the smart home speaker revolution, and when the first Amazon Echo launched in 2014, most people were unsure what to make of it. Since then, Google has been playing a bit of catch up, while Amazon continues to innovate and take the smart home speaker to new places.
Although Google Home has expanded to three options, the Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max, which equate to standard, budget, and premium options, Google simply cannot hold a candle to the options available to those shopping for an Echo device.
Not only does Amazon match Google with the standard, budget, and premium options with the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus, but they offer a few varieties of Echo that Google has yet to match. The Echo Show has a 10.1” screen and can stream movies and TV shows and make video calls to other Alexa users or to those with the Echo Spot, yet another Echo option that features an LCD screen. Amazon has even taken the Echo on the road with the Echo Auto, a device for your car or truck that uses your smart phone to connect you to Alexa services wherever you go.
With hardware options for virtually any budget, any need, and seemingly any place, the Echo series of smart home speakers is the clear winner here.
Winner: Amazon Echo
For comparing sound quality, we’ll look at the premium offerings for both Google Home and Amazon Echo and pit the Google Home Max against the 2nd generation Amazon Echo Plus. It’s important to note here that both Amazon and Google offer external sound options that allow you to plug in a third-party speaker to their devices and Amazon licenses out Alexa functionality to Sonos, so if neither of the top-tier options here suit you, you can still explore other options to get the exact sound you want in your home.
In comparing the Max and the Plus from a hardware standing, it becomes fairly obvious where this contest is headed. The Amazon Echo Plus follows Amazon’s conventional 360-degree design, which uses a single 2.5” speaker coupled with a 0.8” tweeter with Dolby sound processing that can help fill a room with sound regardless of where the speaker is placed.
The Google Home Max features two 4.5” woofers and two 0.7” tweeters that, at the very least, outclasses the Amazon Echo Plus with the ability to offer true stereo sound and deeper bass. Aside from the raw power upgrade the Max has over the Echo Plus, the Home Max also has the unique ability to use its integrated microphone array to automatically adjust the integrated equalizer so users can enjoy the same premium sound experience regardless of whether the Max is placed in a corner, against the wall, or on top of a hard, flat surface, which would traditionally ruin the sound experience.
The Home Max obviously gets the upper hand here, but there's also an issue of price that further complicates the choice, especially with Amazon’s solution to those that want a large, booming sound experience as is provided with the Google Max. Currently, the Google Home Max retails for $349.00, more than double the price of the $149.99 Amazon Echo Plus. However, Amazon’s answer to the Home Max muddies the water here a bit. Coming mid-October 2018 is Amazon’s Echo Plus Stereo Pair, which includes two Echo Pluses and a new Echo Sub for $329.97, which attempts to narrow the gap in playback between the Echo Plus and the Max by simply doubling the number of speakers and adding a dedicated subwoofer to handle the lack of bass.
With the price of the Echo Plus Pair being only $20 less than the Google Max and taking into consideration the fact that smart speakers, at their core, are all about simplicity and ease of use, the superior sound quality and all-in-one nature of the Google Home Max gives it the edge here.
Winner: Google Home Max
One of the main selling points of smart home speakers is the ability to simply ask your assistant to play a song or genre and have it magically happen, and pitting the Amazon Echo series of smart speakers against the Google Home in music streaming is where things get interesting. In order to be able to compete with one another, both Amazon and Google have both made their platforms fully compatible with some of the most popular streaming services, including Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio. However, much like their video streaming spat with Chromecast and Fire TV, Amazon and Google do not play nicely when it comes to directly competing services.
For that reason, without workarounds, if you want to stream Amazon Prime Music simply and seamlessly, an Echo device is your choice, and if you are a Google Play Music subscriber, Google Home is the smart speaker for you.
While they seem to be evenly matched here, Google Home delivers the coup de grace with YouTube integration. If you ask your Google Home to play a song that it can’t find on Google Play Music, it will automatically look for, find, and stream that song if it can be found on YouTube. Leveraging their ownership of YouTube adds an impossibly large selection of music that is only supported natively on Google Home and makes Home the winner here.
Winner: Google Home
Third Party Support
As they have done with hardware options, Amazon has led the way with innovation in making their smart Echo devices integrate with third party apps and hardware and has left Google playing catch up.
The Alexa “skills” platform allows third parties to add their own apps to your Echo device, making it easy to add Alexa voice control to an endless number of hardware or software services. Order Pizza, pair your dinner with the perfect wine, get a rules judge for your favorite board games, create a new cocktail, or order a Lyft to pick you up, with over 50,000 Alexa skills, there are nearly endless possibilities of things to do with Alexa. That’s not to say that none of this can be done with Google Assistant, but since it only launched earlier this year, the options pale in comparison to those offered on Alexa.
For anyone looking for home automation, Alexa also has Google beat, with support for nearly every home automation hardware on the market. Again, Google does support many but lacks full compatibility with some big name manufacturers like D-Link, Leviton, Lowe’s Iris, and some Honeywell devices. If you already have home automation devices like smart light switches, power outlets, thermostats, etc., Echo will likely be able to integrate with whichever hardware is already working in your home.
Winner: Amazon Echo
Overall Winner: Google Home (by a hair)
Despite Google Home taking more categories here, either product being perfectly capable of delivering value, fun, and entertainment, the answer over which is better is not exactly cut and dry. Google Home does offer the device with the best sound quality, more music options, and provides the most ease of use thanks to its ability to better understand natural language. However, in terms of sheer functionality and hardware options, Amazon Echo is tops. Like most things, it really comes down to budget, services, and how you plan to use your devices.
While the choice of whether to purchase a Google Home or Amazon Echo might not be exactly clear, the choice of when to buy those devices is unequivocally Black Friday, where we’ve seen these devices heavily discounted at retailers all across the country.
Forget Alexa and Google, BFads provides all the assistance shoppers need to get the best deal on smart home speakers and everything else that is discounted this holiday! Keep your browsers pointed at Bfads.net, where we will be the first to break every ad leak and doorbuster this Thanksgiving and beyond!