Bluetooth speakers and smart speakers, which one to choose?
With artificial intelligence and wireless access steadily becoming more common, many speakers now double as remote controls and house assistants. That includes devices like
Bluetooth speakers and smart speakers.
You may have come across either or both in someone's home. Although the two types of devices can look similar, there are some key differences.
Connectivity between devices has become more prevalent with the help of Bluetooth. It's built into nearly every modern device, but not many people understand how it works.
These speakers utilize a Bluetooth protocol to receive digital audio when paired with Bluetooth-enabled devices. In simple terms, Bluetooth exchanges data over short distances, transmitting it wirelessly between mobile and fixed devices. Wired speakers differ because they rely on speaker cables to receive audio signals.
Bluetooth technology can get pretty complex, so knowing all the ins and outs isn't necessary to operate a wireless Bluetooth speaker. However, knowing their features — and what brands are already popular with users — can be helpful when trying to decide whether it's the speaker type for you.
What to consider when selecting a Bluetooth speaker
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your next Bluetooth speaker — aside from sound quality, of course.
Portability: Since they vary in size, Bluetooth speakers can come with clips and handles for easy attachment on the go.
Visual effects: Some speakers are fitted with LED lights or water-dancing effects to create a more stimulating or even soothing listening experience.
Water resistance: Speakers fitted with rubberized, splash proof design allow for active and outdoor speaker use.
Multi-pairing compatibility: Certain brands have similar technology that allows built-in Bluetooth to link multiple, compatible speakers enabling you to create a portable wireless sound system.
Several popular brands offer varying models to meet your specific needs, whether you're using your Bluetooth speakers for a home entertainment system or a morning hike.
Quick tip: Different speakers offer different sound quality experiences, and what an audiophile wants can be quite different from what the average buyer is looking for. Try to test a brand or model before you buy it.
Smart speakers, which use voice automation to control a virtual assistant, have become standard elements of home and entertainment systems.
If you have multiple smart devices in your house, these speakers can integrate themselves into your smart home system. This makes tasks like turning off lights or enabling your home security simple. Smart speakers are fitted with numerous helpful tasks and can carry them out using voice automation and a built-in virtual assistant.
Popular and familiar assistants include Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa. After setting up your voice assistant, your device speaker listens for your voice, and turns on when you call it. This virtual assistant will then wait for your prompt and perform the requested task using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and more.
What to consider when choosing between a Bluetooth speaker or smart speaker
Bluetooth and smart speakers can have some overlap, but when making the choice which to buy, here are some final things to think about.
No additional app is required to play audio through Bluetooth speakers, and nearly every device can connect to them natively. They can be mounted anywhere, from your computer desk or wall, to your patio, or even onto your bike helmet.
And thanks to their design, many Bluetooth speakers can also run on batteries, making them more portable. That's counter to the smart speaker experience, which are usually designed to stay plugged in permanently.