We've compared three premium assistant-powered smart speakers, boasting high-quality music output and other seriously smart features. Here's how the Google Home Max, Sonos One and Amazon Echo Plus measure up for audio power, smart home support, connectivity and other vital factors.
The battle for world domination between artificially intelligent machines is already on. Of course we're not talking red eyed, rifle toting murder machines, but rather assistant-powered speakers that can deliver full smart home integration, for hands-free command over all of your devices.
The leaders of the pack right now come in the form of the Google Home Max, Sonos One and Amazon Echo Plus. Since the Sonos packs in Amazon’s Alexa AI, same as the Echo Plus, the battle here is partially between Alexa and the Google Assistant. But with three quite varied devices that each offer their own hardware positives, choosing your perfect speaker isn't quite so simple.
In fact, the Sonos One is going to be the first smart speaker to offer all three assistants in the future: the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and even Apple’s Siri. When that happens, the Sonos is going to be one seriously flexible device; but for now, here's how it compares with the others from an Alexa standpoint.
Google Home Max vs Sonos One vs Amazon Echo Plus: Design and connectivity
Looks aren’t everything, sure, but when it comes to a speaker that takes pride of place in your home, they’re pretty important.
Sonos has been all about the high-end audio since its inception so, as you’d expect, the Sonos One looks rather lovely. Okay, it looks a lot like the Play:1 to be fair, but that’s in no way a bad thing. That grill is part of the body’s 6.36-inch high form and comes in white or black and grey. On the top are touch controls if voice commands start getting old. While the Sonos One does come with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, it won’t support Bluetooth.
The Google Home Max certainly doesn’t scrimp on looks either, and sports a more premium finish compared with the original Home. It’s larger too, with a 13.2-inch width and more stout 7.4-inch height, the front being finished in a fine mesh cover with LED notification lights. Connectivity-wise, you of course get Wi-Fi support but also Bluetooth and aux input.
The Amazon Echo Plus hasn't changed much from the original Echo model, still offering a cylindrical form, top LED ring and drilled grill finish to the bottom half. It’s also the tallest of the lot, standing at 9.3-inches high.
This speaker packs the most connectivity as you get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 3.5mm jack and a built-in smart home hub. That last part means you can control smart home gadgets directly. So in the case of the Philips Hue lightbulb, you won’t need to buy a separate hub to connect to your Wi-Fi; as the Echo Plus will talk to the bulbs directly.
Google Home Max vs Sonos One vs Amazon Echo Plus: Smart assistants
This is a two horse race, with Google Assistant up against Amazon Alexa. Well, until the Sonos One adds Google Assistant and Siri - but we’ll deal with that when the update arrives.
Previously Alexa would have won out on the basis that the Echo hears better with its seven microphones than the Home with its two. That and the fact Alexa has been around longer, so has more compatibility partners. But now with the new speakers and an ever-improving Google Assistant, that fight for the top spot is tighter than ever.
The Sonos One and Google Home Max both offer far-field microphone tech meaning they, like the Echo Plus, can hear your voice from across the room, or even in other rooms if you shout loud enough.
Google is arguably the smarter of the two at understanding language, meaning you can say the same thing in many different ways and still have it understood by Google. That said it’ll take a lot to stump Alexa, as our testing has proved, so even on this ground it’s tough to take a side.
Google Home Max vs Sonos One vs Amazon Echo Plus: Smart home compatibility
Beyond the smart assistants offering music playback on demand from various services, reading out of news headlines and answering any questions by heading online for you, these assistants are also good for controlling your smart home.
Alexa has been about longest and is the most compatible with many brands of smart lighting, heating, door control and more. In the case of the Echo Plus, with the smart hub built-in, Alexa really can control far more than any other smart speaker right now. In fact the Echo Plus can use these smarts to interact with over 100 different partners right now, including the likes of Philips, GE, Kwikset and more.
Both the Echo Plus and the Sonos One can control plenty of gadgets via Alexa and Wi-Fi as standard too. The likes of Nest thermostats, Logitech security, Belkin Wemo plugs, Yale smartlocks, iRobot vacuums, Bosch dishwashers and more besides are supported.
The Google Assistant-powered Home Max will be able to work with plenty of devices too, including Philips Hue (via a hub), iDevices, iHome and Samsung Smart Home, among others. You're best off checking the compatibility lists before splashing your cash, to see which of your devices can be controlled hands-free.
Google Home Max vs Sonos One vs Amazon Echo Plus: Audio quality
It’s a fair bet that anyone listening to these speakers will find the most premium audio manufacturer of the lot, Sonos, offers the best sound. This is thanks to the two class-D digital amplifiers built-in with one tweeter and a mid-woofer. All this can be controlled using an adjustable slider for bass and treble and you can even tweak the settings via the app too.
The Google Home Max has 4.5-inch high-excursion dual-voice-coil woofers and two custom tweeters. That means better sound than Google has previously offered through its smart speakers, although still likely not quite on the level of Sonos.
The Amazon Echo Plus comes with a 2.5-inch woofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter. In other words, while it brings up the rear in this comparison, you can still expect quite respectable output.
Google Home Max vs Sonos One vs Amazon Echo Plus: Price and release date
The Sonos One, as you may not have guessed, is the least expensive of the lot at £199 and out from October 24.
The Google Home Max is $399 and expected to hit the UK in early 2018.
The Amazon Echo Plus is out this October for £139.