How to choose the right smart speaker

Over the past few years, Amazon and Google have started making speakers with touchscreens. Think of them as stationary tablets that respond to voice commands. These models, often called smart displays, are very useful in the kitchen, allowing you to call up recipes, watch how-to videos and make video calls to friends, all without having to stop chopping vegetables or rinse your dirty hands.

The only problem ? Real estate in the kitchen is often limited, and these appliances can take up counter space that could otherwise be used by a coffee maker or stand mixer. Amazon’s Echo Show 10, which has a screen that uses an electric motor to pivot on its base to follow you around the room, needs a patch the size of a large pizza. And if you don’t follow the company’s placement requirements, the screen can rotate and knock over a coffee mug or a bottle of cooking oil.

Other models may require less space, but you should consider how often you will be using this screen feature. Tablets, laptops, and even smartphones let you watch videos, but without voice commands, and you can put them away when you’re done.

Amazon is tackling the space challenge with its new wall-mountable Echo Show 15 smart display. It’s designed to serve as a family hub, a sort of digital equivalent of Post-it notes and magnets on the fridge. But once you’ve wall-mounted it, it’s less versatile as a cooking aid, unless you’re cool to come back to the screen whenever you need to check out a recipe or how-to video.

It’s hard to find a model with both screen and good sound, so you might have to choose one or the other. As for privacy concerns, all smart speakers provide a switch to disable the built-in mic. Most models with smart displays also allow you to turn off the built-in cameras.

Comments are closed.