Surprisingly, in order to take advantage of Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, you don’t necessarily need to buy an Amazon Echo device.
In fact, the Alexa assistant does not have this exclusivity and can also be integrated into devices of other brands, with an important difference that can be seen as a limitation or an advantage depending on the point of view. In practice, while Amazon’s Echoes are always listening and working to answer questions at any time, the speakers with Alexa can only respond to voice commands with manual activation, for example, by pressing a button, as happens with a smartphone.
Those who are concerned about privacy and the fact that the Amazon speaker can always listen to your voice may prefer alternative Alexa speakers. In this guide, we will show you the best alternative speakers to the Amazon Echo that support Alexa voice commands.
These speakers work like simple Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers, but they have a button or remote control to activate the Amazon Alexa artificial intelligence with voice commands.
1) Features included in third-party Alexa speakers
If, instead of focusing on an Echo, you adopt one of the following solutions, you will be able to benefit from some exclusive features or, in any case, make better use of those that you already find on any Echo.
Multiroom: by connecting multiple identical speakers to the same Wi-Fi network, you will be able to play music in the room, recreating a surround or Dolby effect. If you move to another room, the music will “follow us” and you will be able to continue listening with the speakers present in the new room. You will also be able to play the same music in all the rooms of the speaker or, alternatively, listen to different music in different rooms, just configure the control apps appropriately.
WiFi DLNA playback: if you have songs in MP3, OGG or AAC saved on a computer or smartphone connected to the same wireless network as the speaker, you will be able to view the speaker or speakers as DLNA players, then start playback simply by sending the music to the speaker. On Windows, just copy and paste the music file to the speaker (available as a network drive), while on Android, you can use an app like Hi-Fi Cast – Music Player.
Wi-Fi/Bluetooth playback: On many speakers, you will be able to choose which type of technology to use to listen to music.
Play streaming services: Without having to configure anything, the speakers will already be compatible with the most famous music streaming services (Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, TuneIn Radio, Tidal, etc.), so you can play all your favorite music.
Battery: For some of the speakers, we’ll recommend having an integrated lithium battery, allowing them to be used outside the home or taken with us without the need for an electrical outlet.
Integration with Alexa: For voice commands to work, they need to have a built-in microphone and be able to connect to Alexa’s services, either by logging in with an Amazon account in the app or by pairing directly with an Android or iOS app (for high-end models, this is automatically seen by Amazon’s home automation system). In order to actually activate the microphone, a physical button is often provided and must be pressed for a few seconds. Immediately afterward, you will be able to use Alexa as if you were on the Amazon Echo, with the same voice commands.
2) Better speakers with Alexa voice commands
After we’ve seen what features alternative speakers to the Echo can provide, let’s look at the best products you can buy online in this guide. Some products are within the reach of all those who want to try these alternative devices, while others have high prices due to their reproduction quality and the important specifications with which the manufacturers place them on the market: they are mainly designed for technology enthusiasts and for those who want to equip their home with high-end hi-tech products (with prices above $200).
Cambridge Soundworks OontZ ($29.99)
One of the cheapest speakers you can try with Alexa voice commands (which also supports Google) is the Cambridge Soundworks OontZ, available in two versions, one compact and one medium. With this speaker, you will be able to recreate the multi-room environment for playback in multiple rooms through Alexa voice commands (which can be called up via a dedicated button), reproduce via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and take advantage of DLNA for playback via the network.
Going up a level, a speaker that you can use to try Alexa’s voice commands is the Sony Wireless portable speaker. This speaker features a very innovative shape with a transparent part and dynamic lighting, with 360-degree sound to fill any space in the room. Beautiful and elegant, you can also consider it a design object for the living room or bedroom.
Sonos Move ($389)
The Sonos Move is the best high-end speaker that is Alexa-compatible and certified.
In this case, you will have very good sound quality, given that inside, you can find two speakers, a tweeter, and a mid-woofer, with two dedicated digital amplifiers. Because of the native Alexa support, it can be controlled both by other Echoes and independently: the list will be immediately visible by the app of the same name on any smartphone. Among the more advanced features, the automatic playback of Spotify playlists and the ability to play music in more than one room stand out. This means that your music is always at your fingertips.
Those looking for the best audio quality when listening to music can purchase a Bose speaker with integrated Alexa. The prices are quite high, but not so prohibitive for those who want the best.