The Amazon Echo is a really great device. The smart speaker packs in Amazon Alexa, and is capable of performing a variety of tasks. Plus, with additional Skills, the Echo’s capabilities are easily augmented. If you actually want to use Amazon’s offering, but in a smaller form factor (Amazon Echo Dot), or you’re looking for portability (Amazon Echo Tap), you can check out our article where we pit all of Amazon’s smart speakers against each other. However, not everyone would want to use the Echo as their home smart speaker solution. You may be looking for something more portable, or more affordable, or frankly speaking, something that looks (or sounds) better. So, here are 10 cool Amazon Echo alternatives that you can use:
1. Google Home
The Google Home is one of the best smart speakers you can get. The Google Assistant powered smart speaker packs in almost all of Google’s considerable abilities, and the voice recognition works extremely well. In fact, the Google Home puts up a great fight against the Amazon Echo. You can use Google Home to perform a variety of tasks, such as setting alarms, streaming music from music services like Spotify, Google Play Music (obviously!), and more. The speaker has a rich list of commands, and packs in quite a number of tricks, as well.
Design wise, I prefer the Google Assistant, because it seems to blend in with the environment, instead of looking like a weird tube placed on your living room table. Even the sound quality is much better in the Google Home, but that actually varies from person to person; some people prefer the bass rich sound of Google Home, while others prefer the clear treble output from the Amazon Echo.
2. Lenovo Smart Assistant (Upcoming)
Lenovo also has an Alexa powered smart speaker in the works. This means that the speaker will pack in all of Alexa’s smarts, thanks to their collaboration with Amazon, and will also (presumably) have a much better sound quality, because it’s made in collaboration with Harman Kardon, a name that is synonymous with excellent sound quality. The smart speaker will be launched sometime in May of 2017, and will be priced around $130 for the normal version, and $170 for the Harman Kardon version, which packs an additional sound cavity to improve the sound quality of the speaker.
It also packs in 8 far field microphones, as opposed to 7 in the Amazon Echo, and comes with noise suppression, and acoustic echo cancellation to ensure that it hears your commands properly. We have compared the Lenovo Smart Assistant against the Amazon Echo in detail, and you can check out our detailed article on the same.
Another really cool smart speaker that you can consider buying as an Echo alternative – ivee is a smart speaker that looks very different from all the others. Much like the Amazon Echo, ivee can control your smart home, thanks to its ability to connect with devices from Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue, Logitech Harmony, and many others. Plus with two far-field microphones, ivee can listen from upto 15 feet away, so you can control you home, from anywhere in the room. I agree that two far-field microphones are obviously not as good as the seven far field microphones in the Echo, but hey, as long as they work, it doesn’t really matter.
ivee also comes with an audio port, so you can connect it to any stereo system that you want – something the Echo lacks; plus the volume adjustment, and touch control knob on the top makes volume adjustments easy, while also letting you wake up the smart speaker with a touch.
4. Triby Smart Speaker
Triby is yet another smart speaker powered by Amazon’s Alexa. The portable, battery powered speaker combines a host of features into a small, and good looking package. With Alexa built in, you can perform tasks such as ask for the weather, checking the news, and do a lot more. Plus, with the Triby app on your smartphone, you can do a lot more with your speaker. Triby can be mounted on your refrigerator (a feat I’m glad Echo can’t perform, because honestly, that’d be quite weird to look at), and using the mobile app, you can send doodles to the e-paper display on the speaker, change your settings, and do a lot more.
Whenever a new doodle is set on the Triby’s e-paper display, a little yellow flag pops out, acting like a notification that there’s a new message, which is something I really like, even though it looks like a novelty. Plus, the Triby can be used as a portable Bluetooth speaker for listening to music, or taking handsfree calls. Triby retails at $199, but is currently available for $99 on Amazon.com, making it a steal.
5. FABRIQ Portable Smart Speaker
Another really great alternative to Amazon Echo (and the Tap), the FABRIQ portable smart speaker is also powered by Alexa. That’s great, because it means that the speaker is capable of doing everything that Alexa can do on the Amazon Echo, which is quite a lot of things. Since the speaker uses Alexa, you can stream music from a variety of music services, such as Spotify, Pandora, and more.
The FABRIQ speaker is also completely capable of controlling your smart home, so you can simply connect all your smart home devices to the speaker, and control them with your voice. Unlike the Echo’s large size, FABRIQ comes in a small form factor, but has a 2″ precision active driver, and a 5W output, which is quite loud for its size.
Not Sherlock’s brother, no. This Mycroft is an artificial intelligence for everyone. Instead of going for proprietary hardware, the makers of Mycroft built it on Raspberry Pi, and Arduino, and added Natural Language Processing to understand your commands, and perform the appropriate actions. Mycroft also integrates with any smart home devices you may own, including Philips Hue devices, SmartThings hub, and more, so you can easily control your smart home devices with your voice.
Mycroft is meant to be an open platform, which is why the makers chose to use Raspberry Pi, and Arduino boards. With the highly active community surrounding these hardware devices, it’s quite evident that Mycroft’s abilities will only grow with time.
7. JAM Portable Speaker
If you’re looking for a highly affordable alternative to the Amazon Echo, the JAM portable speaker is the one for you. The Alexa enabled speaker is priced at just $49, which also makes it a viable Amazon Echo Dot alternative. You can just tap on the button on the speaker, and ask Alexa to perform various actions for you, including checking the weather, setting alarms, and a lot more.
Just like on the Echo, you can also use Alexa to stream music from your favourite streaming services, such as TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more. JAM is also portable, and can last up to 4 hours on a charge, so you can use it as a portable Bluetooth speaker, as well. Plus, recharging it is easy with a standard microUSB cable (included).
8. Zetally Avy Smart Speaker
The Zetally Avy is a very different smart speaker from the ones we have covered, so far. The Avy is an Android powered smart speaker, that comes with a touch screen. Normally, something like that would warrant it a top of the list place, but unfortunately, the Avy runs Android 4.4 KitKat, which is honestly quite disappointing. However, it does include 10 watt speakers, a Li-ion rechargeable battery that lasts up to 7 hours, along with a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, and 2 GB of RAM.
The Avy also comes with HDMI out ports, and a front facing VGA camera, so you can even use it for video, and voice calling. Since it runs on Android, you can basically install any app you want on it, and stream music, or videos. The screen is a 7″ 1024×600 display, which is definitely not one of the best. However, it is decent for most purposes.
9. Sony BSP60 Smart Speaker
Sony also has the BSP60 smart speaker, which comes nowhere near close to the Amazon Echo, or the Google Home in functionality, but can actually suit people who’re not looking for a speaker to control their smart home. With the BSP60, you can use your voice to get informed about the weather, and your daily schedule. However, the speaker only works when paired with an Android device, which is not really something you’d expect from a “smart speaker”.
The speaker does look good, and performs well enough. However, it is only suitable for people who don’t want anything more from their speaker, except for listening to music, being able to check the weather, and their daily schedule with it.
10. Sonos Play:1
If all you’re looking for from your speaker is the ability to stream music over internet services, and not the ability to control your smart home, or tell you about your calendar, the Sonos Play:1 is perfect for you. Thanks to integrations with on-demand radio services, you can even use your Sonos Play:1 to listen to the news when you want, and of course, you can stream music from Spotify, Pandora, and more.
Where Sonos really shines, is the multi-room set up that you can create. You can connect them all together, and have them play the same song in sync, or play different songs on different speakers; it just works. There are a lot of speakers similar to the Sonos, and you can opt for one of them, if the Sonos isn’t to your liking.
Bonus: Cortana Powered Smart Speaker
If you’re a fan of Microsoft, and love using Cortana on your Windows PC, you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft also has a Cortana powered smart speaker in the line up for this year. The speaker is being made in collaboration with Harman Kardon, so expect some great quality sound (and a not-so-affordable price tag to go along with it).
You can, reportedly, have the smart speaker do everything that Cortana can do on the PC. So, you may find yourself using your smart speaker for a lot more stuff than you can think of. Things like checking the news, setting alarms and reminders, or just creating to-do lists, or shopping lists. The possibilities are endless, and it only remains to see how Microsoft implements its first entry into the smart speaker front.
Use these Cool Amazon Echo Alternatives
If the Amazon Echo is not the smart speaker you want, you can easily choose a smart speaker from this list. I have tried to include speakers of a various types in this list, so no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll hopefully find something that suits your needs. If you just need Amazon Echo in a smaller form factor, you should definitely check out the Amazon Echo Dot, and Tap devices; and if that’s not the case, you can choose from any of the options in this article.
As always, I’d like to know your thoughts on the Amazon Echo, Alexa’s capabilities, and the devices I’ve covered in this list. Also, if you know of any other cool Alexa alternative, do let us know about it, in the comments section below.