I have been surprised this year at how many kids are asking for a smart speaker for Christmas! I’m a huge fan of my Google Home devices. We have them in just about every room in the house. Many parents are wondering how to decide which smart speaker to get!
What kinds of smart speakers are there?
There are a few kinds of smart speakers now, and it’s beneficial to know the difference. First, the two major players in the field are Google and Amazon. Google has the Google Home or Nest devices (depending on the generation you are purchasing) and Amazon has the Echo devices.
Many people mistakenly ask for an “Alexa” device, but that is incorrect. The Echo is the device that uses Alexa as it’s artificial intelligence engine. Google Home devices use the Google Assistant. Both devices have some pros and cons.
Which one is better Amazon’s Echo or Google Home?
As with most technology, I will defer to what works best for you. Meaning, the one that I think is best, may not actually be the best for you. That is what is so wonderful about technology, you get to choose how you use it.
Why you should choose Google
The Google devices are REALLY good at answering questions for you. They have the full power of Google’s search engine to back them up. Anything you ask a Google Home device will have super relevant and accurate results, just like Google.
I am also super entrenched in the entire Google ecosystem. I use Google calendar to keep my family calendar straight. Google Keep has all of my notes. Gmail is my primary form of communication (aside from texting, which is also on Google’s Messages app, and of course Marco Polo which is not Google). I use an Android device…Google is my JAM.
It is a no brainer for me to use Google smart home devices since my entire life is already on Google. If you use Google smart devices, you should also use the Nest cameras, since they are very tightly integrated. With a Nest Doorbell and a Google Home Hub you can see who is at your door and whether or not you want to answer it!
Since I am so tightly married to Google, I can ask my Google Home devices to tell me what my commute to work looks like, ask to read my calendar to me, or just view my calendar on a smart display. I can also resume a podcast from my Google podcasts app by just saying “resume podcast”.
YouTube is also a Google property. This means you can watch YouTube videos right from your Google Hub. You can also use it as a Chromecast device to broadcast the show you are watching on SlingTV or any other Chromecast enabled application.
Why you should choose Amazon
With the Amazon Echo devices, you get the benefit of integration with many different platforms. Since Alexa has been around just a little bit longer as a smart home assistant, there are a plethora of skills that Alexa can use to control many areas of your home. These skills are created by other companies to help Alexa have this massive number of integrations.
Another benefit to the Echo devices is shopping integration. You can add things to your Amazon shopping cart quickly and easily, and then they will show up at your house within the next couple of days! Sometimes this can be a little TOO easy, so when you are setting up an Echo device for your child make sure you disable the shopping!
Echo also integrates well with Ring cameras and allows you to see who is at your door through an Echo Show. If you already have a Ring doorbell, you may want to stick with an Echo show for this capability. There are also Alexa enabled devices you may already own. The OneLink Smoke Detector and the Brilliant Smart Home Control both have Alexa built-in, so if you already own a few of these types of devices, using an Echo might be a good option for you since it will just expand the current capabilities into more rooms in your home.
Also, because it is an Amazon company as well, you can listen to your Audible Audiobooks through your Alexa enabled devices (you cannot currently listen to Audible on Google Home devices, and it being an Amazon company, it’s likely you’ll never be able to)
Both devices will give you the capability to listen to music, drop-in or broadcast (use the speakers like an intercom), and establish smart home routines. You can see there are advantages and disadvantages to each though. Just figure out how invested you already are with the company, and which features you can’t live without.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com