What if you could actually speak to your house, and it could follow all your commands? That’s not science fiction anymore. Voice assistants have taken over the world, allowing people to conveniently get their chores done with a simple command.
Pert’s smart home automation system integrates with both popular voice assistants available in India right now, which are Amazon’s Alexa & Google Assistant (the configuration is done in the Google Home app).
Both the AIs can be accessed with your smartphone, and now also come inbuilt with the respective brand’s range of smart speakers. These are physical devices that you can keep anywhere in your home.
We’ll come back to smart speakers soon, but the cool part is that for Pert users, this means you can just say what you want, and your voice assistant will tell Pert to get that chore done. So you won’t always need to access our mobile app. This feature can come in handy if you’re in another room away from the phone, or just feel too lazy to pick it up.
Some of the tasks voice assistants can perform are:
- Google, set the AC to 23 C (“Ok, done”)
- Alexa, switch on/off the TV & start the HBO channel
- Alexa, activate the “Dinner Night” mode (“Sure, dimming the living room lights”)
- Google, schedule my coffee maker to automatically start brewing at 7 AM
- Alexa, open the curtains at sunrise & play devotional songs (to wake you up)
To explore more possibilities of smart home automation (using voice commands), browse our catalog here.
Coming back to our main topic for today, the big question is, “Which voice-activated smart speaker should I buy this year?” In this blog, we’ll share the benefits & drawbacks of each option, so that you can buy what’s best for your personal needs.
Two Top Brands: Pricing & Models
As mentioned above, Amazon & Google comfortably hold the first two spots when it comes to having a voice assistant device.
The only other option is offered by a popular tech brand is Apple’s HomePod Mini, which retails at ₹9,990. But it’s still relatively new, and only relevant if you happen to have an iPhone/other Apple product, so we’ll skip that one for now.
Regarding our two top brands, there’s a bevy of new & legacy models you can explore but for the purpose of this blog post, we’ll stick to only the latest & greatest ones – you know, to keep things simple.
The prices & features were noted as of January 2022 but may have been updated since then, so please check with your retailer on the same.
QUICK COMPARISON TABLE
|Brand/Model||Plug-in||Small Portable Cookie||Enhanced Audio Speaker||HD video screen|
|Amazon||Echo Flex (₹1,749.00)||Echo Dot (₹2,449)Echo Dot w. clock (₹4,449)||Echo Studio (₹19,999)||Echo Show (₹24,999)|
|N/A||Nest Mini (₹3,499)||Nest Audio (₹6,999)||Nest Hub (₹7,999)|
Amazon’s Echo Series
First up, Amazon’s Echo Family has 5 popular iterations for different uses:
- Echo Flex (small plug-in module) – ₹1,749
- Echo Dot 3rd Gen (small cookie) – ₹2,449
- Echo Dot 4th Gen with clock (medium orb) – ₹4,449
- Echo Studio (large speaker) – ₹19,999
- Echo Show (with HD smart display screen) – ₹24,999
Amazon’s smallest option, a white rectangular plug-in Flexbox, retails well under 2000, so if you’re on a budget right now, this is a decent bargain because it has the basic voice control features that other products in this list do. The only drawback is that you have to plug it in to access the functionalities, so it needs a power source.
However, if you’re looking for a plug-free portable option in the same budget range, go for the 3rd Gen Echo Dot. It was the first to come out and is a compact disk-shaped cookie that has most of the functionalities you’ll get in bigger products listed below. It’s touted as the best-selling product,
The newer 4th Gen Echo Dot is a bigger, and more sleek-looking sphere that retails for ₹4,449.00 (for Prime users, same-day delivery) on the brand’s eCommerce platform.
It comes with an additional watch display so you don’t have to ask for the current time. And it has built-in powerful bass speakers, so you can ask Alexa to play your favorite songs or pick some from the desired genre.
The Echo Dot integrates with popular music streaming platforms like Jio Saavn, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Gaana FM, and Hungama … so you’ll never run out of beats to groove to every day.
Thirdly, if your priority is audio quality, you can go for the robust Echo Studio, which doubles as a powerful speaker/music player.
With 5 built-in speakers producing powerful bass, dynamic mid-range, and crisp highs, it’s easily the best-sounding device ever produced by Amazon. The Dolby Atmos technology adds space, clarity, and depth to your audio experience.
Lastly, if you’re looking for HD-video functionalities, the Echo Show is the obvious pick, as it comes with a 10.1” display screen.
It’s not only useful for streaming movies on Prime or Netflix but also integrates with Zoom & other video conferencing apps to let you conduct your online WFH meetings.
Another useful feature of the built-in 13MP webcam is that you can monitor your room 24/7 from the Alexa app for security purposes. The check-in feature allows you to call your kids, maid, aged parents, or anyone who’s currently in the room.
So say you’re in the office, and you spot your pet dog coming into your bedroom when they’re not supposed to, you can instruct your kid/house help to walk them out.
Google’s Nest Series
Google’s Nest family for the Indian market is much simpler with 3 popular options listed on Reliance Digital:
- Nest Mini (small cookie) – ₹3,499
- Nest Audio – ₹6,999
- Nest Hub – ₹7,999
To begin with, the close competitor for Amazon’s Echo Dots is Google’s Nest Mini Smart Voice-Activated Speaker, which comes in both white & charcoal colors.
It has the popular Google Assistant built-in, so you can use it to get answers for almost anything & everything. Very soon, we’ll discuss Google’s advantage of having a strong knowledge database to conduct natural human conversations.
Now if audio quality is your priority, you can upgrade to the Nest Audio box, which costs less than half the price of Amazon’s Echo Studio.
It boasts a room-filling sound with 75mm Woofer and 19mm Tweeter. A cool feature is that it adapts to your environment and whatever you’re listening to. So music with beats sounds better. And news, radio, and audiobooks with word-heavy content sound clearer.
You can combine/pair two Nest Audios to experience Stereo Surround sound. But that’s something you can do with Amazon’s Studio model, too, by combining a pair or more into a group, thanks to the “multi-room audio” feature.
The third item on Google’s catalog is the Nest Hub, which is way cheaper than Amazon’s Echo Show (if you buy the former from Flipkart online). The 2nd Generation model was launched just recently on Flipkart, Tata Cliq, and Reliance Digital in January 2022.
It has a 7” display screen, and has new air-gesture reading abilities to let you air-tap play/pause media, or swipe left/right to turn off or snooze alarms, timers, and notifications.
For Knowledge Transfer: Go with Google
We’ll keep the comparison simple for you. If you’re more interested in having a knowledgeable friend for your kids or yourself, Google is the winner because it draws from the largest database in the world.
You can ask Google to:
- Give you live updates on the news, sports events, weather, or traffic conditions
- Answer your questions about the nutritional information of food
- Save a note about an important point/to-do task, or transcribe what you’re saying
- Help you make a random choice by flipping a coin
- Settle a debate by asking Google to join the conversation & share information
- Make mathematical calculations & give finance-related/stocks data
Perhaps one of its best strengths is that the AI remembers every family member’s unique voice, and helps them with their private schedule, daily briefings, music playlists, and more. So you can have different profiles for the entire family, and use the same Nest in a personalized manner.
As you start your day and ask Google Assistant about your day, its My Day feature gives a brief of how your day would be including the weather, calendar, commute, reminders, and news. It also reminds you of any important to-do tasks.
As far as smart home automation is concerned, Google is completely compatible with Pert’s smart home system. You can download the Google Home App to make the connection, and then give the Ok Google Assistant or your Nest speaker voice commands, such as:
- Turn on/off lights, fans, and devices connected to smart plugs
- Set the AC to certain temperatures
- Switch on any channel on your TV
- Combine different smart appliances into one scene/routine (for eg. Good Morning scene triggered curtains to open, TV to turn on, and geyser to start heating the water)
Of course, this comes with its own set of drawbacks. For one, Google’s audio quality is comparatively lower than Amazon, as many expert reviews confirm.
Secondly, the “add to cart” shopping function is only available in the US, as per Google’s blog, so Indian residents may not be able to directly purchase items using voice commands … yet.
Thirdly, although Google’s video screen model (Nest Hub 2) has improvements from its first generation, it can still not compete with Amazon’s Echo Show, which comes with a pricier tag but is certainly worth it.
Google’s voice recognition AI is also more robustly built to understand Indian or local ethnic accents, making it easier to converse with. So overall, if hands-on conversation & information-based utility is your main priority, go for Google.
For eCommerce & Streaming: Go with Amazon
If you’re a digital native who shops & pays for everything online, go with Amazon’s Echo Series. Amazon is also the better option for streaming audio/music & video because it gives a much better bass quality, and has a bigger screen.
You can pay your utility dues by commanding Alexa, which includes water, electricity, gas, and mobile bills. The shopping feature helps you directly purchase items from the Amazon Store.
You can also ask the speaker, “Where’s my order?” and it’ll track your Amazon packages from start to end.
The biggest selling point for Amazon’s series, however, is that it has a growing library of 30,000+ skills i.e. highly niche enhancement features that are much like plugins on a WordPress website. You can check out the huge list on Amazon’s website here.
Some of our favorite examples are:
- Request a ride from Ola
- Play Hanuman Chalisa
- Ask Sanjeev Kapoor recipes how to make a cake (recipe reading)
- Open five-minute workout (video/audio instructions)
- Tell me the Riddle of the Day, Joke of the Day, Fun Fact of the Day
Alexa’s team often comes up with quirky seasonal or “festive special”l skills such as “Playing a Christmas Carol” or “Wishing you a New Year,” so those are quite fun to explore.
Coming to Smart Home Automation, Amazon has its own special section in the list of Skills, and integrates seamlessly with Pert, so you can give a voice command for almost any action that you perform on our mobile app.
Overall, Amazon’s Echo takes the cake when it comes to getting your online tasks done, all thanks to Alexa’s improved AI.
The cherry on top is that now you can change the default female voice to Amitabh Bacchan Ji’s deep & mature voice, which is a dream come true for Indians!
Coming to drawbacks, Alexa can sometimes get confused with Indian accents, and also has a much less-advanced database than Google, so it may not be able to answer all your questions correctly or satisfactorily.
The Final Verdict: Which brand is better?
The clear short answer is that we feel Amazon’s Echo series is slightly better-suited for the Indian market as of January 2022, although Google is not far behind, and should catch up soon.
Yes, Amazon’s Alexa-powered speaker devices are costlier but we feel that they’re totally worth that premium price.
That said, if you’re on a really tight budget, you can start off with Google for now.
Don’t forget: Pert integrates with all voice assistants
Whichever brand you choose, the main takeaway is that Pert will integrate seamlessly with your voice assistant, whether that’s Google Home or Alexa. You can install our smart home automation system easily in just a few hours without any rewiring, reconfiguration, or hassle.
If you’d like to see a free live demo of all the voice command-powered scenarios we discussed in this blog, reach out on any of the following channels!
☎️ Sales Hotline: +91 91009 20031 (WhatsApp)
📩 Email: email@example.com
️🌐 Website: www.pert.me
Want to view our entire catalog? Download it here. The Pert team is excited to be a part of your smart home automation project!
DISCLAIMER: The points expressed in this article are the author’s personal views, and don’t reflect those of the brand. Pert does not accept any responsibility or liability for any actions or events arising from the same.