Does one really need a smart speaker in India now?
Smart Speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home devices have been slowly but surely has become popular in many countries. One could say Amazon Echo started the smart speakers market with its AI Alexa Assistant and now Google has made huge strides in this market for the past 18 months to give a good competition to Amazon Echo devices. Not to forget, Apple though entered late to the market with the Apple HomePod, is trying to test the waters in this market.
Till now, Smart Speakers are predominantly popular only in developed countries with English native speakers. Now with the stiff competition and to expand the reach of the smart assistant tech to more growing regions, technology giants like Amazon and Google are eyeing the huge untapped markets in Asia specifically in India.
In India, where internet connectivity is still a major challenge in the most part of the country and with high-speed connectivity penetration being slow, will buying a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home be a valid option. For the past 2 years, India has undergone a radical change in terms of connectivity particularly with the inception of Jio, thus giving fast internet at a very cheap price. So I would say, India is now a great market and we can embrace these smart assistants to greatly help with productivity. First, let’s check it out about what is a smart speaker and how you can benefit from it.
What all you can do with a smart speaker?
Smart Speakers have created a new market and are very useful for assisting you in some of your routine tasks. Take a scenario in your daily life:
One fine morning, when the clock strikes 6 AM:
Your smart Speaker will wake you up with an alarm
Give you an update on the day’s weather.
List you down the tasks to do done for the day and also remind you of any events
Update you with the latest news in Politics, Business, Sports, and Technology
Finally, with just a voice command get a Cab at your doorstep for your travel to the office.
The above scenario looks too good to be true but would you believe that this experience can be easily obtained NOW! YES! This is just a very simple example of how a smart assistant can be useful, once explored there are numerous benefits underlying them.
which one will be the best Smart speaker for you?
Now with the exponential growth in smart speaker market, there are many options for consumers. However, Smart AI are mostly Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. So even if the speakers come from other brands, they tend to embrace either of these Smart AI in them. So first we’ll check on the speakers from these major technology firms.
Amazon Echo Device
Last year, Amazon introduced its Echo devices in India first through an invitation-only mode and after some time the device was available normally. The Echo devices currently available in India are Echo Dot, Amazon Echo, Echo Show and Echo Plus. The core inbuilt AI which is Amazon’s Alexa is common for all these devices and is compatible will all skills.
Echo Dot (priced Rs 4,099 – Check Amazon ) is the cheapest of them all and in my opinion, the best option if you are a beginner or want to try Home automation. Echo (priced Rs 8,999 – Check Amazon ) and Echo Plus ( priced Rs 14,999 – Check Amazon ) is bigger and has good Speakers along with Subwoofer for great audio quality. So if you are planning for a decent wireless speaker with AI functionality, go for either of these devices. Echo Plus has built-in smart home hub helping your setup home automation and making it a very easy process. Finally, Echo Show (priced Rs 12,999 – Check Amazon) is the latest device launched in India which is a cute looking device and can replace your table clock with AI and a small display to give you options to view videos and change watch faces as per your wish. If you can spend more than 5K, I would suggest you try Echo Show instead of Echo Dot.
So Why to buy Echo devices?
Amazon has specially customized Alexa AI for Indian customers to recognize native slang and voice. It also brought in many India specific services and daily many skills for India location are added by the ever growing and supported dev community. Finally, when it comes to home automation (even if it’s just controlling bedroom light and Fan), Echo devices supports extensive third-party appliances and is better than Google Home.
Check out my post where I have given a detailed guide on How I Automated my room completely using Amazon Echo Dot at only Rs 3,599
Google Assistant is one of the advanced and perfect AI currently available. Almost everyone uses it in their smartphones to perform many routine tasks. So when this Assistant is ported to a cool looking Speakers, we get a super product as output. These are the Google Home devices which launched in India only a few months back. Google Home Mini (priced Rs 4,099 – Check Flipkart ) and Google Home ( priced Rs 9,999 – Check Flipkart ) are the two devices currently available which takes on Amazon Echo Dot and Echo models directly. The overall functionality of Amazon and Google devices are the same but when it comes to design and looks, Google Home devices take the cake.
So Why to buy Google Home?
As highlighted earlier, when it comes to pure AI experience Google Assistant is superior compared to Amazon’s Alexa. Then, the design and sound quality from Google devices are better too. However, for home automation and lack of various skills make Home devices lag behind Echo in this regard. Another point of view is that, if you own an android phone one could already get the Google Assistant free of cost and with an existing speaker you already have Google Home type of device.
Starting very late, Apple introduced the Homepod only recently. It received negative reviews from critics on its functionality and price. Thought it had great design, built and superior sound quality, the actual purpose of a Smart Speaker which is the AI (Siri in this case) was very sluggish and didn’t provide any value to even consider buying one specifically. However, we think Apple could come back with a bang next year with an improved Siri and try to make a claim in the Top for this market.
Anyways, the Homepod was not even launched in India yet shows that Siri is nowhere ready for the global platform, so it’s a big NO from us even if you are trying to import a device from U.S.
To sum up, if you are crazy about Smart AI, like to tinker with home automation and ready to accept an Assistant in your daily life, go for any Amazon Echo device based on your budget. If you are a person who just wants to make some good-humored conversation and deep Google user who wants to automate tasks, then go choose the Google Home device.
Other Smart Speakers
Apart from these, there are now speakers from other brands which comes with Smart AI like Alexa and Google Assistant baked in. For if you are an audiophile conscious of sound quality, try checking these options.
Harman Kardon Allure Wireless Speakers ( Check Flipkart ) come with Amazon Alexa built it. It provides great 3D sound quality and has Alexa integrated into it. The Speakers also has Sub-woofer built into it.
Another option would be the Sonos One Wireless Speakers ( Check Flipkart). It is a solidly build and portable device which gives astounding sound quality and excellent Alexa integration for its smart features.