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Apple is ending the HomePod--here's what to buy instead

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

The Apple HomePod is going the way of the dodo, as the tech giant recently announced that it plans to discontinue the four-year-old product to instead focus on the smaller, more wallet-friendly HomePod Mini. The original HomePod sounded great, but was hamstrung by its hefty price tag and comparatively limited smart assistant, Siri, which doesn't offer the tremendous compatibility that standouts like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa boast. Now that it has one foot out the door, you may be looking for a solid replacement. Never fear, as we've pulled out some great picks that can (for the most part) replace the original HomePod without skipping a beat. Here are our picks for the best alternatives to Apple's stellar-sounding smart speaker. The HomePod Mini comes loaded with Apple's smart assistant, Siri.


The best smart speakers of 2020

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

The Bose Home 300's sleek design fits in well with most decor. We weren't sure what to expect upon opening the Bose Home 300 for testing, but we were pleasantly surprised on almost every level. While the sound quality can't quite compete with the (much larger) Echo Studio, the Bose Home 300 allows users to choose between Alexa or Google Assistant; it has handy preset buttons on the top of the speaker; and it can stream audio over Bluetooth, AirPlay, WiFi, or via an old-school auxiliary cable. Through its app and smart assistants, the Bose Home 300 can play music from a large number of streaming services, such as Spotify, TuneIn, Amazon Music, Tidal, Pandora, and even Apple Music via Airplay or Bluetooth. The compatible music and podcast sources will vary a bit depending on which smart assistant you choose (you can only use one assistant at a time, however it is very easy to switch in the Bose app). Though not any larger, this speaker is much louder than most of the other smart speakers we included in this roundup.


Sonos Roam review: The right speaker at the right price

Engadget

Until 2019, Sonos only made speakers that lived on shelves or tabletops, tethered to an outlet. That changed 18 months ago with the Move, a loud, rugged and theoretically portable speaker you could tote around the house or bring out to the backyard. It sounds great, can survive a rainstorm or sub-zero temperatures, and lasts 11 hours before needing to be charged. But a few things keep it from being a straightforward recommendation: it costs $400 and is too big to just throw in a bag and take with you anywhere. Enter the Sonos Roam, a slim, light, $170 speaker that competes directly with Bluetooth-enabled devices like the Ultimate Ears Boom and Megaboom options.


The best smart speakers for music fans

Engadget

If you're a music fan, the first wave of smart speakers was probably a disappointment. While Alexa and Google Assistant have definitively proven they have a place in the home, the first Echo and Google Home devices were unimpressive when it came to actually playing music. They did the job in a pinch, and being able to command Spotify with your voice is a killer feature, but many longed for better-quality audio.