Amazon’s Echo kickstarted the smart speaker craze, and ever since then, our lives have been made easier thanks to the voice-assisted automation of our homes. It didn’t stop there, though. Other companies followed suit, offering their own line of Alexa-, Siri-, or Google Assistant-powered devices, including Bose. Right now, refurbished Echo Plus speakers with a built-in smart hub and the powerful but small Bose Home Speaker 300 are available on Amazon at cool discounted prices.
The first generation of Echo Plus is cylindrical just like the Echo, although it is taller and slimmer. It comes in either black, white, or silver. Inside are seven embedded microphones, and on the outside, you’ll find a volume dial around the rim, the signature blue ring of light on top, and a couple of buttons for action and muting Alexa’s mic.
The Echo Plus is a speaker and a smart hub in one, meaning you don’t have to purchase a bridge for it to control your smart home devices, unlike the Echo. Once you’ve connected it to your home Wi-Fi network, you can order it to connect with all your Zigbee-compatible smart home devices by simply saying, “Alexa, discover my devices.” Pretty soon you’ll be able to turn lights on and off, switch channels on your smart TV, and basically do everything Alexa is capable of doing completely hands-free. And with the new and improved Far-Field voice recognition (something the Echo also has), this smart speaker will have no difficulty hearing you even from afar.
As a music player, the Echo Plus is adequate. You may tap your toes, but you definitely won’t be banging your head to it. It’s best to connect it with a larger speaker or audio system through the 3.5mm audio output jack.
The Echo Plus usually comes with a $130 price tag, but with Amazon’s staggering 46% discount, you can get a refurbished unit for only $70.
If you’re a fan of Bose’s signature sound but have grown weary waiting for the company to release a smart speaker, your patience has finally been rewarded. Although its arrival is a tad late, the excellent Bose Home Speaker 300 definitely is worth the wait. This smart speaker has both Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, so you have the option to choose whoever you like best. On top of it are six shortcut buttons where you can assign a station, album, podcast, or playlist, and on the bottom half, you’ll see the downward-facing driver through the aluminum grille. It has a 3.5mm auxiliary input and features Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect compatibility.
Aside from being controlled via voice, you can also use the superb Bose Music app. Through it, you can set your preferred voice assistant and tweak the EQ settings. Honestly, though, you won’t have to do any adjustments, as the Home Speaker 300 already sounds great by default. Featuring 360-degree sound dispersion, music sounds full and atmospheric with rich basses and crisp highs. It can also go incredibly loud without getting distorted. Compared to the thin-sounding Echo Plus, you don’t need to hook this up to any additional speakers, unless you want one in every room of your home. And even at its loudest, it won’t have any difficulty hearing your commands, thanks to its noise-rejecting six-microphone array.
Through Alexa, you can switch from single- to multi-room play with a specially coded request. For example, you can merge all downstairs speakers in a group on the Alexa app. Then, you can just say, “Alexa, play Robyn’s Dancing On My Own (or whatever) downstairs” and it’ll play in sync in all your first-floor speakers. As long as they’re all Bose SoundTouch speakers, of course.
The Bose Home Speaker 300 normally retails for $259, but right now you can get it on Amazon for $199 – that’s $60 worth of savings. And if you order via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and get approval, you’ll enjoy an additional $50 off instantly, cutting the price even further to $149.
Both the Echo Plus and the Bose Home Speaker 300 let you enjoy your music hands-free. The Echo Plus isn’t the most impressive acoustically, but it has the added benefit of working as a smart hub to control your smart home devices. Plus, it’s very affordable. The Home Speaker 300 may not work as a hub, but it has both Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. Most importantly, it sounds incredible.
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