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Smart speakers have transformed the way we listen to music by removing the barriers between us what we’d like to hear.
Instead of picking up (and flipping) an LP, or popping in a CD, we can ask the speaker to play virtually any song or album from a streaming service and hear it in seconds. Early smart speakers were expensive, and frankly didn’t sound very good, but that’s changed thanks to improvements in technology and speaker design.
Now it’s possible to get a great-sounding smart speaker for under $200. To be clear, a smart speaker isn’t designed to replace a full stereo system, especially if you want to hear music in surround sound, but it’s perfect for casual music listening.
If you’re shopping for a speaker on a budget for your dorm room or home office, the four below get our highest recommendation.
Smart speakers under $200 is set. Can we do the same thing we did with fire pits yesterday?
What Are the Best Smart Speakers Under $200 Speakers?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best budget-friendly smart speaker for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Smart Assistant: The speakers in this guide are considered “smart” because they have microphones, which allow you to access a smart assistant by using your voice and use it totally hands free. We’re recommending smart speakers that work with Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.
Size: Our budget-friendly smart speaker recommendations are all small enough to take with you from room to room without much effort.
Wired vs. Wireless: This guide contains a mix of speakers that run on battery power, and some that need to be plugged into an outlet at all times. Battery-powered smart speakers require a Wi-Fi connection to work with a smart assistant, but you can stream to them over Bluetooth when you’re on-the-go.
Battery Life: The battery-powered smart speakers in this guide last at least 10 hours per charge, which translates into all-day use.
Multi-Speaker Pairing: All of the smart speakers we’re recommending sound great on their own, but most can be paired with an additional speaker, which offers the ability to listen in true stereo.
1. Amazon Echo
It should come as no surprise that the best smart speaker you can get for under $200 is the Amazon Echo (4th Gen). It’s the latest version of the smart speaker that kicked off this entire world of audio, and it’s only gotten better with each successive generation.
The latest Echo has improved audio hardware that allow the speaker to pump out an impressive amount of high quality sound, even at high volumes. Its spherical shape is aesthetically pleasing, and at just 5.2-inches tall it’s easy to fit on any desk.
Naturally, the Echo is compatible with Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant, which allows you to play music from a variety of music streaming services just by asking. Alexa also enables you to control smart home accessories, set timers, play games, and more. In our tests, Alexa is the most responsive and fully capable smart home assistant.
As an all-around smart speaker, the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) is the best one available at any price, but it’s an especially good deal at under just under $100. If audio quality is your main focus, and your budget allows, the Echo Studio is an excellent choice for $200.
2. Sonos Roam
Most smart speakers are limited to one smart assistant, but the Sonos Roam is compatible with both Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. It also works with Apple’s custom AirPlay 2 streaming standard.
This level of interoperability makes the Sonos Roam an excellent choice if you’re shopping for your first smart speaker and don’t know which to pick. This also happens to be the best-sounding battery-powered wireless speaker we’ve ever tested, which is no small feat.
Sonos designed a custom audio system for the Sonos Roam, which makes it sound like a portable version of its entry-level One speaker. The Roam also makes use of Sonos’ Trueplay software, which uses the speaker’s microphones to tune itself based on the room it’s in.
The Roam is smart enough to automatically adjust its tuning if you move it from place to place, though this takes a few minutes. Overall, the ability to take such a great sounding speaker to-go is pretty incredible. That’s especially true considering the speaker lasts up to 10 hours per charge.
If you want a budget-friendly smart speaker you can take anywhere, look no further than the Sonos Roam.
3. HomePod Mini
While Amazon and Google have licensed their smart assistants for use in third-party speakers, the only way to get a smart speaker with Siri is by getting the HomePod Mini.
Apple’s pint-sized speaker is arguably the best value in its entire product lineup, coming in at just $99. If you have an Apple device, setting up the HomePod Mini takes just a couple of minutes. Your phone or tablet will automatically share your Apple Music subscription information with the speaker.
The speaker sounds very good for its size, with especially good bass response that doesn’t muddy the mids or highs. In our tests, the HomePod Mini handled every track we threw at it without distorting. Siri isn’t quite as fast (or capable, in some ways) as Alexa or the Google Assistant, but Apple has committed to improving it over time.
If you typically use Apple’s gear, the HomePod Mini is the most seamless smart speaker to use.
4. Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation)
Smart speakers with screens have been around for a few years, but the Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation) is the best budget-friendly pick by a longshot.
It can do everything a traditional smart speaker can, but its 7-inch HD screen opens up a lot of additional possibilities. For instance, when asking about this week’s weather, the Google Nest Hub will show you the full forecast in addition to telling you about it.
The reason we like Google’s Nest Hub compared to other smart home speakers with screens is its tight integration with Google’s services. Asking this speaker about your commute will show you your travel options on Google Maps. You can ask the Google Assistant to play a video from YouTube, or an event on your Google Calendar, and it’ll pop up instantly.
These benefits only work if you use Google’s services, but they’re practically universal at this point. Naturally, you can also ask the Google Assistant to stream videos from third-party streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. If you’ve been curious about getting a smart home speaker with a screen, this is the one to get.
5. Ultimate Ears Blast
Ultimate Ears’ Blast is an ultra-durable battery-powered smart speaker designed to be carried anywhere.
The Blast is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, and has all the same features as the Amazon Echo (4th Gen), but differ’s from that speaker in two big ways. First, Ultimate Ears’ Blast is battery powered, and can last up to 12 hours per charge. Second, it has an IP67 durability rating, which means it can be submerged under water for up to 30 minutes without being damaged.
Like all battery-powered speakers, the Ultimate Ears Blast can be recharged by plugging it into a power adapter with the included cable. But, we’re recommending a bundle that pairs the speaker with its optional hands-free charging dock. Set the speaker on top of the dock, and it’ll start charging automatically, no cables required.
If you plan on spending time on the patio by the pool, Ultimate Ears’ Blast is the ideal smart speaker to take.