Sonos One, $199
Even though it's just 6.36 inches tall, this little speaker produces surprisingly robust, full-range sound – just like its bigger Sonos siblings. Want to talk to it? That part works well, too. Its digital assistant functions are powered by Amazon's excellent and capable Alexa, which can do everything from controlling connected devices like Philips Hue lightbulbs to teaching you how to tune your guitar. But you aren't just limited to Alexa – if you prefer to chat with Google Assistant, which does an even better job of understanding natural language, a software update will soon allow Sonos One owners to switch to Google's virtual brain.
Killer Function: That openness – the fact that the speaker is compatible with almost any music service and to two different digital assistants – is the biggest single difference between Sonos One and Apple's HomePod. And it is also a perfect and modestly priced way to dip your toe into Sonos' slick, seamless, multi-room music integration – especially since the company is selling a special bundle of two Sonos One units for the price of a single HomePod.
Bottom Line: For most music fans, the Sonos One hits the sweet spot of price, sound quality, usability and platform openness.