Voice assistants at home: which one to choose

Voice assistants are the non plus ultra of high-tech accessories: real helpers of everyday life that simplify our lives and lets us do (almost) everything from the comfort of a sofa. We don’t even have to move an arm to grab a remote control: it will be sufficient to send our request out loud and the assistant will execute.

There are two main features of voice assistants:

  • Internet interface. We can ask the assistant everything we could do or find by surfing the Internet: knowing tomorrow’s weather, what are today’s TV programs, listening to an album from Spotify, buying concert tickets or calling someone on the phone. no (among the many possibilities).
  • Home automation. Our voice assistant can connect via wi-fi to any smart device in our house (if we have one) and order it to lower the heating, start the coffee machine, turn off the oven, turn down the TV volume, or to water the plants in the garden (the possibilities are virtually unlimited). In this case, however, it is imperative to evaluate the compatibility of the assistant with the various domotics brands and products.

Choice of the voice assistant

There are two main commercial assistants on the market:

  • Google Home
  • Amazon Eco

Each of these has its own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. Let’s analyse them to understand what could be the most appropriate purchase for our house.

Google Home

Benefits of Google Home:

  • Great compatibility with Google services and devices (Play Music and YouTube), but not only (for example it is perfect for Netflix).
  • Good integration with domotics: Home is perfect for controlling not only Google devices (Chromecast above all, but also Android smartphones or surveillance devices) but it also has good compatibility with other brands. Among these: smart lamp brands such as Philips, Lofter, Teckin), surveillance cameras such as Amazon Echo Spot and Akaso. Nest thermostat and Philips sound bars are also compatible.
  • Excellent microphone sensitivity and excellent AI: these make Home almost always understand what we say (even if there is some background noise).
  • Easy configuration.

Disadvantages of Google Home:

  • The audio: if we don’t have a sound system at home to play music, Google Home is not the best support to listen to our favourite songs. The quality of the speakers is simply not enough to use it as if it was a home stereo.

Amazon Echo

Benefits of Amazon Echo:

  • Compatibility with streaming services like Amazon music, Spotify, TuneIn.
  • Design and materials: not only elegant design, but Amazon devices are also available in three shades of grey..
  • Good audio + multiroom devices + multidirectional microphone: it is possible to choose the preferred set-up of microphones for Amazon Eco according to our needs. So, if we want Echo not only to answer our questions but also to reproduce good quality music, we can invest in the top of the range Echo Plus Stereo System. Furthermore, if we want to listen to music in multiple rooms, we have to do nothing more than buy more Echo devices and connect them as speakers (function) and that’s it: by giving the order to the central Echo, the songs will be transmitted to all others. Finally, the different microphones installed on Echo make it possible for us to easily interact with the assistant from different positions and even at a considerable distance.
  • Excellent integration with home automation: Echo is also compatible with many brands of smart devices, even more than Goole Home. It is for example compatible with smart light bulbs (such as: Teckin, TP-Link, Philips, Alcase, Anoopsyche), thermostats (such as: Nest, BTicino, Decdeal), with surveillance cameras (such as: Wansview, D-Link, Victure ), robot vacuum cleaners (such as: iRobot Roomba, iLife, Neato Robotics) and soundbars (such as: Bose, Samsung, Abox).

Disadvantages of Amazon Echo:

  • The AI of the virtual assistant (Alexa) of Amazon Echo is a little less precise and more based on English than Google Home, so it will have some more difficulty in understanding our requests.

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