Once upon a time, speakers were only useful for playing music. But thanks to the rise of voice assistants, they are now more capable than ever and make a great addition to any modern home.
Amazon is well known for the Alexa voice assistant, which powers its Echo range of smart speakers. With an Alexa-enabled speaker, you can play music, listen to audiobooks, check the weather and news, make and receive phone calls, send messages, ask pretty much any question, update your calendar, order shopping, control smart home devices and so much more using just your voice.
Since launching its first Alexa-capable smart speaker in 2014, Amazon has gone on to create an entire line of Echo devices. There’s truly an Echo device for everyone, from budget friendly models like the Echo Dot to more powerful speakers such as the Echo Studio.
In addition to Amazon’s Echo range, many other brands have launched smart speakers that support Alexa. These include companies like Sonos, Audio Pro, Bluesound and Braun. So, if you’re looking for an Alexa speaker and aren’t keen on Amazon’s Echo devices, you’re not limited in choice.
Considering that Alexa is one of the most advanced voice assistants available today, lots of speaker manufacturers have integrated this technology into their devices. As such, many of the latest smart speakers support Alexa. With loads of Alexa-enabled speakers to choose from, it can be hard making an informed decision.
But you don’t need to worry, as we’ve spent the last few weeks testing the latest Alexa speakers from Amazon and other manufacturers to find our favourite.
Amazon Echo (4th generation)
The fourth-generation Echo is Amazon’s flagship smart speaker. Compared to the cylinder form factor of previous Echo generations, the new Echo looks completely different with a globe-like design. It’s a decent size and looks stylish, with colour choices including Glacier White, Twilight Blue and Charcoal.
As well as a revamped design, the new Echo sports a better sound experience than past models. With an Amazon Music HD account, you can use HD audio on this speaker for higher quality sound. Another neat feature is a built-in ZigBee smartphone hub, making the Echo compatible with a large range of connected devices. And there’s a dedicated button for deactivating the mic, which adds an extra layer of privacy to the speaker.
Buy now £89.99, Amazon
Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation)
For anyone who wants an Alexa speaker at an affordable price, there’s no better option than the Echo Dot. Costing less than £30, the Echo Dot offers the full Alexa experience but in a smaller form factor and for less money than the standard Echo (despite looking very similar).
Featuring the same globe design as the fourth generation Echo and a flat base, it’ll fit on a bookshelf, desk or any other surface without taking up much room. The volume buttons and other controls are conveniently located at the top of the speaker, and they’re tactile to use.
Despite its compact size, the Echo Dot reaches surprisingly high volume levels and is a bargain. You can get the Echo Dot in various colours, including Glacier White, Twilight Blue and Charcoal.
Buy now £49.99, Amazon
Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)
The Echo Show 10 Second Generation is an Alexa smart speaker with a 10.1-inch touchscreen display and stereo speakers, making this an ideal gadget for movie lovers. The touchscreen is responsive and provides HD visuals.
Thanks to a built-in 13-megapixel camera, the Echo Show 10 allows you to make and receive video calls. And if you go on holiday or go out to run an errand, you can remotely access the device’s camera to check that everything is fine back at home. When you’re not using the camera, you can shut it using a sliding cover.
The Echo Show 8’s large, crisp display means it works great as a digital photo frame and for accessing recipes in the kitchen. There are two colours available: Glacier White Fabric and Charcoal Fabric. Something to bear in mind is that the Echo Show 10 is a bulky device, so it’s probably not ideal if you don’t have much shelf space.
Buy now £240.00, AO
Amazon Echo Show 5
The Echo Show 10 won’t be for everyone due to its hefty weight and size. But luckily, Amazon offers a smaller smart display called the Echo Show 5.
With a decently sized 5.5-inch display, you can watch movies over streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. There’s also a built-in 2-megapixel camera for video calls, and like the Echo Show 10, you can cover the camera when it’s not in use. Thanks to a compact design, the Echo Show 5 will easily fit on a bedside table or sideboard.
You can get the Echo Show 5 in Glacier White, Deep Sea Blue and Charcoal. At just £39, it’s a bargain.
Buy now £39.00, Amazon
Amazon Echo Studio
The Echo Studio is Amazon’s high-end smart speaker. With five built-in speakers and Dolby Atmos technology, it’s designed to fill the whole room with immersive audio. The Echo Studio also supports the latest sound formats, such as spatial audio and Ultra HD.
In terms of design, the Echo Studio is substantially tall and wide. And it’s heavy to hold, too. You’ll definitely need a decent amount of space to store it in an average-sized living room. This may be an easy compromise to make for those who want the very best-sounding Echo speaker. Costing £190, it’s considerably more expensive than the other Echo devices.
Buy now £190.00, AO
Lavazza A Modo Mio Voicy
If you’re a fan of snazzy kitchen gadgets, you’ll love the Lavazza A Modo Mio Voicy. It’s the first coffee machine that comes with Alexa technology out-of-the-box, enabling you to make a cup of coffee using your voice. All you need to say is “Alexa, make me a coffee”, and Voicy will pour your coffee of choice. And when you run out of coffee capsules, you can purchase more just by speaking.
As a fully-functioning Alexa speaker, Voicy will also let you play music, ring people, send messages, update your calendar, manage smart devices and perform many other commands. Overall, Voicy is simple to set up and use, and it’ll look great in any modern kitchen.
Buy now £199.00, Lavazza
The Sonos One is a smart speaker that works with a range of voice services, including Amazon Alexa. To use Alexa on the Sonos One, simply download the Sonos app and enable its skill via the Alexa app.
The Sonos One sports a compact design, easily fitting onto bookshelves, desks, kitchen worktops and the alike. At the top of the speaker are handy touch buttons for controlling volume, skipping music, pausing tracks and conducting other actions.
In terms of specs, it sports duo Class-D digital amplifiers, a single tweeter and a single mid-woofer. Overall, the Sonos One provides excellent sound quality for a speaker of its size. One notable downside is that the Sonos One doesn’t work as a Bluetooth speaker.
Buy now £199.00, Sonos
Audio Pro C5a
The Audio Pro C5a is a multiroom speaker that provides voice control via Amazon Alexa. It looks and feels every bit a premium speaker with a smooth finish, aluminum controls and a handy leather handle.
Connecting a smartphone to the Audio Pro C5a is quick and easy thanks to a dedicated Bluetooth button. You can also connect devices to the Audio Pro C5a wirelessly via WiFi. When it comes to audio quality, the Audio Pro C5a sounds great. And thanks to multiroom capabilities, you can connect the C5a with other speakers to create the ultimate audio setup for your home. This speaker comes in three colours: black, grey and white.
Buy now £199.00, Currys
Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i
The Pulse Flex 2i from Bluesound is a Bluetooth speaker with multi-room functionality and Alexa voice control. On its own, the Pulse Flex 2i is capable of delivering superb audio quality. But you can enjoy stereo sound by linking the device to other speakers from Bluesound.
It supports streaming services such as Amazon Music HD, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and many more. Design-wise, the Pulse Flex 2i has a nice matte finish and comes in either white or black. While the Pulse Flex 2i looks and sounds great, it’s pretty expensive at £299.
Buy now £299.00, Amazon
Bose Smart Speaker 500
The Bose Smart Speaker 500 sports two custom drivers that deliver room-filling stereo sound, and Alexa support makes it easy to play your favourite music. Thanks to eight microphones, it’ll never struggle to pick up your voice. At the top of the speaker, you’ll find six preset buttons for accessing things like radio stations and playlists. These are touch sensitive, along with the various other controls located on the roof of the speaker. It supports both WiFi and Bluetooth connections. Made from aluminum, this is a premium-looking speaker and will suit any modern home. You can get it in Triple Black or Luxe Silver.
Buy now £304.95, Bose
Echo Dot (4th Generation) Kids
Amazon even has an Alexa smart speaker aimed at young people, called Echo Dot Kids. It’s a powerful learning resource for children, providing homework support and answers to a wide range of questions. Youngsters can also use the Echo Dot Kids to listen to age-appropriate audiobooks and music, ring people from an approved list of contacts, play games, create alarms and so much more. There are also parental controls for blocking songs that contain swear words and other inappropriate lyrics, enforcing time limits and monitoring activities. The speaker sports the same ball-like design as the standard Echo Dot, but the main difference is that it comes in two fun patterns: a panda or a tiger.
Buy now £28.99, Amazon
For most people, Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo will be the best Alexa speaker. Its stylish design, impressive performance and affordable price tag make it an attractive option. If you’d rather opt for an Alexa-capable smart speaker from a different manufacturer, our choice would be the Sonos One as it looks attractive and sounds impressive. But at £199, it’s a lot more expensive than the fourth-generation Amazon Echo.