The Best Alexa-Enabled Smart Speakers, According to Amazon Users Here's how Amazon customers are rating their Alexa devices

Amazon wants Alexa-enabled devices all over your home, but which ones should you choose? We scraped Amazon’s reviews to find the best (and worst) smart speakers with built-in Alexa. To qualify, a product needs at least 10 reviews. We even copied and pasted the best and worst reviews to give you an idea of what you’re facing.

Check out these smart speakers with built-in Alexa.

Altec Lansing VersA


Score: 2 Stars
Reviews: 14

5-Star Review: 

Great speaker

1-Star Review: 

Horrible over-priced piece of garbage. You need to download 3 apps to “connect” it. Then, it does can do everything Alexa does except play music which is pretty much why anyone buys a speaker in the first place. Do NOT buy

Invoxia Triby Smart Portable Speaker


Score: 3.5 Stars
Reviews: 91

5-Star Review: 

This is an incredible product. I set it up today, and I love it. The setup was very easy… about 15 minutes with the iPhone Triby app.

I plan to use it as a simple internet radio in the kitchen and as an emergency VOIP phone for my kid. As an internet radio, it is great. Plenty loud enough (at half volume I can hear it clearly in another room) and good quality. It won’t replace my Chromecast audio setup paired with multiple systems throughout the house, but if I just want to listen to a little bit of radio… it’s perfect. Just one button press and boom… radio. No pairing or syncing of devices to get it going.

As an emergency VOIP phone (no landline here), it is also great. My kid can press a button to call me or press another button to call mom. If you intend to use it this way, I suggest purchasing an uninterruptible power supply for your WiFi router and/or modem. That way if your power goes out, your internet service is not disrupted. I was able to call my iPhone and my wife’s iPhone from the Triby. It also worked on our phones with WiFi turned off (using LTE for the cellular internet connection). You need to have the Triby app installed on your phone. When your phone is being called, a notification will appear asking to open the Triby app where the VOIP call takes place. This feature is great!

The notifications are super cool, too. My kid likes the emoticons and pushing the yellow flag back in the Triby when a message comes in.

Overall, this is an excellent product. The Alexa integration takes it over the top. It’s great to just talk to a device and have it respond to you. Simple things like “Alexa, turn the volume down” make me feel like George Jetson. The Triby is an excellent product.

1-Star Review: 

I wanted to love Triby because the form factor is so much cuter than the default Amazon Echo device. However, it had a really hard time recognizing my voice and commands compared to the original.

Sharper Image SWF1002

Sharper Image Alexa

Score: 3.1 Stars
Reviews: 11

5-Star Review:

I love my Alexa.

1-Star Review:

super slow to process your requests. very frustrating.



Score: 3 Stars
Reviews: 87

5-Star Review:

I wanted a smart speaker that could control my smart devices, was not too big and had great sound. The 808 XL-V seemed to fit all my needs (and has Alexa), so I decided to give it a shot.

Getting the speaker set up was a breeze. I just needed to download the free 808 app, plug in the speaker, then follow the step by step instructions from the app to connect the speaker to my home wifi. Once it was added to my home network, the speaker was ready to use. I checked my Alexa app, and the 808 XL-V automatically showed up as one of my registered devices.

The speaker looks and sounds great, and the sound fills the room I have it in. The 808 app is nice as it links your stored music so you can start playing your music from within the app instead of opening a new app, plus you have access to other music services like iheart radio and Napster in the 808 app.

The big plus is it works seamlessly as an Alexa device. I can lock my front door, turn on/off lights, and even control my Ecobee thermostat without needing to get up from my desk or picking up my phone. It also accesses my music stored on the Amazon Cloud.

Overall, I’m very happy with this purchase.

1-Star Review:

I don’t like it. And I don’t recommend it for the following reasons:
1. Inconvenient: I stopped using the Smart features because they’re difficult to set up and it’s inconvenient to switch between Wifi, bluetooth, and Auxiliary modes. Why can’t you just say “Alexa! Switch to Auxiliary mode!”. It actually won’t let you switch if an auxiliary cable is plugged in.
2. Bright blue light: The blue light doesn’t turn off if the auxiliary cable is connected, which is annoying if you keep it in your bedroom. I keep having to get up to turn it off. Then back on when I need to use it.
3. Short life span: I’ve had the speaker for 6 months now and it’s dying. The sound is glitching frequently. Alexa’s voice slows and drops a couple of octaves now and then so she sounds like Andre the Giant, and now it won’t connect to my computer via Auxiliary or bluetooth.
4. Possibly possessed: Every once in a while the speaker randomly emits a loud and creepy buzzing static sound like a poltergeist is trying to talk to me from another realm. I don’t like it.


iHome IAVS16 Bedside Speaker

ihome bedside clock

Score: 3 Stars
Reviews: 140

5-Star Review:

This works awesome. I was thinking about getting an Alexa for the bedroom and I we needed a new alarm clock too. This takes the place of both and it works great. I’ve not had any of the problems that other users have had and it’s been the best alarm clock I’ve owned. I also think the sound quality is better than the generation 1 and generation 2 echo. It has a little more depth to the sound.

It took less than 5 minutes to connect to the internet. I installed the iHome app on my phone and then told it I wanted to setup the Alarm Clock. It walked me through the setup and was connected very quickly. After that, I use the iHome app to setup the alarm style and to customize some other features. You can setup the alarm with voice commands but you need to further customize alarms in the Alexa app.

Alexa works great. I love the fact that I can listen to audiobooks and music just like with Alexa. Most of the Alexa things work great like news and weather. I can still control my smart hub and devices with Alexa.

Not everything worlks. Spotify doesn’t allow spotify to work with third part Alexa apps. You can use spotify premium through the iHome app or you can use any Spotify with Bluetooth. I hear you can’t make Alexa calls with this, but to be honest I don’t really get the feature for the regular Alexa too. It just doesn’t make sense to me so I’m not going to miss it.

The alarm clock part works great too. I hear someone else complaining that saying “Alexa Alarm off” turns off the alarm. Basically they’re complaining that the alarm goes off when you turn it off… Just say “Alexa snooze” and it snoozes through voice command! Of course, you can hit the snooze button too, but I prefer voice commands. There are only 4 alarm sounds but you can also wake to iHeart radio or Spotify.

If power is out when an alarm is set to go off, there is no backup battery. But when power comes back, it will reconnect to the internet and get all your settings back. I’m not sure if a previous alarm will then go off or not–I need to test it some to see. The alarm settings are stored on the device, so alarms will go off if wifi disconnects but power stays. You can’t change the alarm settings if wifi or internet are down.

There are some disconnects between iHome and Alexa. For instance, you can set the physical sleep button on the alarm to turn off your iHome smart switches through the iHome app, but you can’t set the physical button to interact with Alexa. If my bedroom lamp is plugged into an iHome smart witch I can turn it off with a button, but if my bedroom lamp is plugged into a belkin smart switch I can’t turn it off with a physical button. You can still say “Alexa turn off bedroom lamp” with either the iHome switch or the Belkin switch (if they’re connected to Alexa). Another oddity is that if you connect with bluetooth to this device and use Alexa, you have to hit the bluetooth button to switch back to bluetooth. I don’t really use bluetooth nor do I want to use physical buttons to turn off my lights. So neither of these matter to me.

I do love the display. I like seeing the time, weather, and next alarm on the face of this. My wife things the color bar is pretty cool. You can change the color or colors of the bottom bar, but not the clock face. We have the bottom bar set to a rainbow of colors.

Overall this has worked awesome. It’s like the next generation of clock radio. It’s not cheap, but it has a lot of features. I prefer this over an echo in the bedroom and I think it sounds better. I completely suggest this! It’s really cool!

1-Star Review:

I was SO, SO wanting this cool clock to work as advertised but, alas, it wasn’t to be. It was very easy to set up and connect to both my WiFi and to Amazon Alexa and it worked great, At First. The sound quality is really good, the display very easy to read and it’s easy to set the alarm.
The problem is that the Alexa portion of the device doesn’t work most of the time!! I found that if I would unplug the power and reset it, it responded to the wake word of Alexa – for awhile. Most of the time after speaking the Alexa wake word, it would just sit and blink multicolor lights at me and then time out. I have an Amazon Dot sitting on the same nightstand and it responds every time I speak its wake word so I know it’s not a ‘ME’ problem!!
I did call iHome customer service and the gal was very helpful and stated it’s a known problem and that they’re working on it. My device did have the latest and greatest firmware version but to no avail!!
As I stated, I really wanted this device to perform as advertised and hope they iron out the bugs – in the meantime I’ve ordered a Vobot clock and hope it fulfills my daily waking needs and although I’ll have to reach over and touch it to make Alexa wake up (Reach out and TOUCH – how 1970’s!!) at least I can command my smart world again!!
I think it’s just not ready for prime time right now.

Polaroid PWF1002

Polaroid Alexa Smart Speaker

Score: 3.6 Stars
Reviews: 15

5-Star Review:

Dislike no phone
Like who cares
Great sound Pandora music hits the highs and lows
No problem it has the POTENTIAL for GREAT sound talk radio has no trouble
With it

1-Star Review: 

Would give 0 stars if it was an option. The “free” app is useless, as it doesn’t recognize this device. Don’t waste your money.


Fabriq Chorus Smart SPeaker

Score: 3.6 Stars
Reviews: 29

5-Star Review:

I was looking for something like the Amazon Tap, but saw it wasn’t being sold anymore. I was doing a lot of my own landscaping and didn’t want to use a bluetooth speaker and my phone to keep me rocking and shoveling. So I was basically looking for a wifi speaker with Alexa. Battery lasted the whole time I was working on yard and only had a few connectivity issues when it was out of line of sight of house. Just had to place it on higher ground and voila, rocking and shoveling again.
I liked that I just had to place it on the charging base and not have to mess with opening up TV the flap and plugging in micro USB port.
Not an audiophile so I can make those kinds of comments, but didn’t sound cheap and made yard work less mundane.

1-Star Review: 

First of all, I’m an experienced IT integrator so I am use to a challenge – I know what I am doing. I could not get this device to work either with WiFi or Bluetooth – the app is horrid to work with! There is NO CUSTOMER SUPPORT via phone or email. I liken it to ‘marriage – a good idea at the time’.

Many other reviews say the same – take a moment and read them – I did but through (incorrectly) I thought I could make it work with all my experience – WRONG! Good thing I got it through Amazon – at least I can get my money back.

Spent HOURS with many ‘resets’ and trying different configurations – no luck – the YouTube videos were not helpful at all – did everything they instructed me to do (more than once) and still nothing.


Ellipsis Smart Speaker


Score: 3.4 Stars
Reviews: 46

5-Star Review: 

This speaker was so easy to setup. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, out of box to connected and playing music was 5 minutes tops. The best part is that it plugs into the wall, no need for charging or taking up space on counters. We place ours in our kitchen which is so helpful, especially for hands off usage. I don’t have to yell for her to hear me, I love that I can pause or even change the volume just by using voice commands. As a speaker it very very well designed, very clear sound quality and loud enough to heard in both our kitchen and living room area. Another feature I do like is I can turn off the microphone any time I want, so easy. So far we’ve used Alexa for music, weather reports, timers when cooking, and even asked her to tell us a joke, can’t wait to find out all the things this smart speaker can do.

1-Star Review: 

Right away I noticed that it was made with cheaper quality plastic than its counterparts. Its volume also maxes out at a fairly low level (at least for what I could get it to do). I’m pretty tech savvy, so I didnt worry about the app seeming outdated and cheap…I can usually get these type of things to work one way or another. However, the app needed to run this is a complete piece of garbage. The designers must have been borrowed from a beginners coding class. The speaker would NOT properly connect via the app no matter what I did. At one point it actually said “your device is connected to ‘internet name’ and your phone is connected to ‘internet name’. Please try again to get both devices to connect to ‘internet name’. Just spent $10 more and buy the real Alexa.

Bose Soundbar 500


Score: 3.6 Stars
Reviews: 63

5-Star Review:

Sound is great, app set up can be a little annoying but allow me to provide some tips. The instruction manual just tells you to down load the app and follow instructions. Once you do that and plug it in, you can sync and update in the app. Be sure to have your display on your phone set to always on or you keep losing internet connection when your phone screen goes dark, thus making it take a lot longer, there is a tiny light bar in the front left, there are many combinations of lights that mean different things. If you have a dual band router, Make sure both your phone and the soundbar are on the same band while searching for device. When setting up Alexa, I couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t respond to me. There is a mic cancel button on the top left of the bar. Make sure the little red light is off, indicating the mic is on. Although simple, this was a point of much frustration because no where in the setup does it tell you to turn on the mic and I believe it’s default to off. A little more paper instructions would have been nice to. I’ve 34 and very competent in smart home devices. I have a nest, Apple TV, smart tv, Bluetooth door locks, cameras, smart plugs. I find they were all a little annoying to set up and get that first pairing of devices. But once it’s up and going, it’s great. The remote Auto synced with my tv but there is also manual option. Sound is great. I’m ordering the cube speakers and sub woofer next. Quality sound, quality product. But I also got it half price. But the sound on my smart tv was terrible and this brings life back to the room. I couldn’t listen to music in the initial echo dot because sound was to poor.

1-Star Review: 

I bought this on Thanksgiving and it was my biggest purchase of the year, its my first ever Bose speaker. Install was easy, i know quite a few people mentioned its difficult to install, but I have to say unless you are from stone age (which means you are not efficient with your smart phone) the installation process is just as simple as setting up some random online account. In terms of the sound quality, I have to say I was hoping for more. I hoped the sound was more surrounded giving that its Bose. I can feel the sound comes from a single source in front of you, and its a just a clearer, louder version of the TV sound. It doesn’t make you feel like you are immersed into whats playing in your TV. I think its still very very far away from the experience of a good set of 5.1 sound system or in a cinema. But its probably one of the best TV soundbar out there.

Now, as for the 1 star. I had it for 1.5 days, a total use time of less than 5 hours, before it decided to go into perpetual updating mode. There is nothing I could do, it doesn’t respond to any command it just got stuck at something while updating the software, not even responding to the factor reset command via the remote control. And there is no button on the soundbar. Very disappointing…. my first Bose speaker and it just died. Caused me more trouble than enjoyment so far.

Motorola Moto Mod Smart Speaker


Score: 3.5 Stars
Reviews: 81

5-Star Review: 

This speaker is loud for it’s size. People always ask “Is that your phone?!” when I use the speaker. It has it own battery so it doesn’t drain the phone battery when in use. It makes the phone pretty fat (wide) so it is not great for in a pocket. The Alexa app will work whether the speaker is connected or not. The main camera is covered when this speaker is attached. Moto mods attach to the phone magnetically, which is kinda cool. The rubbery looking oval works like the amazon dot light, lighting up blue and red, etc.

1-Star Review: 

Only works with Amazon music, and has a short battery life, but an even shorter speaker life. My mod stopped working after about 30 minutes of use, I was hoping for something cool like the echo but this isn’t worth it

JAM Voice Portable Speaker


Score: 3.3 Stars
Reviews: 134
5-Star Review: 

This is a great little speaker! I’m not sure why it has so many bad reviews, but I’m so glad I took a chance on it. I bought 2 and plan to buy more. I had been eyeing the Sonos multi-room speakers for months, but just couldn’t justify spending $500 on speakers for my purposes. I’m using them in my office to provide background music in the halls and the waiting area so it was essential that the speakers have multiroom capability. So when I saw these I thought I’d take a chance and just return them if they were terrible. I’m SO glad I did. These are fantastic! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the sound quality from the Sonos is better, but for the price, these have really great sound quality. I LOVE that I can use the Alexa app since that’s how I typically listen to music and I have my “waiting room” music in the app ready to queue up each morning. I haven’t tried any of the other music apps with it yet because I bought it specifically to use Alexa. I’ll update if I run into any issues with other apps though. Here’s my experience, good and bad:

-Once they’re paired they automatically pair up when your turn on the speakers
-Can use them as multi-room speakers
-Can use them as individual speakers
-Can use them as stereo speakers (so one is left and the other right)
-Alexa works perfectly
-You can control the music from the Alexa app
-Has pretty good sound for a little speaker
-Stays on as long as your music is playing, but shuts off after the playlist ends (to save battery)
-Works while plugged in (I leave mine plugged in all the time since they stay in the same spots)
-Easy to decipher controls on the speaker itself
-Has a cool intercom feature that allows you to play your message on the speakers
-Good sound for such a small/inexpensive speaker

-The first time I paired them was a bit difficult. I couldn’t pair them the first way it instructed me to do it, but when that didn’t work it instructed me to use an “alternate pairing method” which did work. It still only took about 5 minutes per speaker though and I only had to do it once. Now they automatically pair when I turn them on.
-Sound quality isn’t as nice as my Bose or my Echo when turned up really loud (but I didn’t expect it to be).
-The jam wifi app feels really dated, but it does everything I need it to do. I never really used the jam wifi app for anything but the initial set up. Now I use the Alexa app to control music.

Overall, the bad isn’t that bad at all and the good is great! For a sub-$50, multi-room speaker you can’t beat this!

1-Star Review: 

Easy to connect via blutooth if only using it as a single speaker
Terrible audio quality. If you have an old car with blown out speakers that rattle they may actually sound better than this. I would consider using this to play podcasts, but not for any quality music.
Trying to connect to alexa or whatever was nearly impossible. The instructions didn’t work, and so I had to improvise. For some reason, it appears you need to be connected via blutooth, then connect to the wifi, then back onto the ‘wifi’ of the speaker itself. This all has to be run through a crummy app as well.

Unless you get this thing for free, there is plenty of competition out there for quality audio. Some of them may cost another $20, but you certainly get what you pay for with this one

Polk Audio Command Sound Bar


Score: 3.5 Stars
Reviews: 456
5-Star Review: 

The SOUNDBAR was exactly what we needed,
But our needs were complicated – so this review may help.

Make sure you download the correct app.
My android had a knock-off or something similar giving me fits.
I uninstalled it and then realized the correct app was about 4 down on the list.

Have an existing transmitter / receiver for outdoor music?
Even though I used adapters that I had on hand,
You will probably want to buy a HDMI splitter. NOT A SELECTOR.
This will be plugged to the back of it and then split to the TV and to your transmitter.

NOTE: if you buy a selector, then you have to choose music on Sound Bar or Outside speakers.

Don’t forget to pay attention to if you may need 3.5 for RCA for an adapter from HDMI to the transmitter.

I had a devil a time trying to find out why my Samsung TV had speakers muted after sound bar was installed.
I could not get the TV speakers to come back on.
AND I could not find out anything on google.
So I kept playing with it.

Finally! I found under GENERAL Settings the AnyNet setting.
I turned AnyNet off.
Now my TV speakers work.

Why would I need TV Speakers?
Sometimes he wants to watch soccer and I want to pipe music to the outside speakers.

If you are a huge Sound Snob, then you may want to upgrade to something else.

But I love to have music in the house and I’m able to hear this upstairs and find it good quality.
This quality is great for the average to above average listener.

CONTROLS that we use at this point:
* CONTROL 1 Fire TV Box with HDMI for movies and music. (this is the need for the splitter)
* CONTROL 2 Fire Stick is still IN the TV – and is NOT connected to Soundbar-
The stick is used to watch news or soccer while the FIRE TV is playing music outside.
* CONTROL 3 Universal remote for TV sound

We don’t really use the SoundBar remote since Alexa makes the adjustments for us.

I hope this has helped someone with answers that I couldn’t find on google.

1-Star Review: 

Bought on July 17th. Sound is good when it works but it constantly goes in and out. I have tried using an HDMI cord and then an optical cord. When you turn the volume up you also lose sound for a few seconds. Today is September 22 and it has stopped working all together. Yesterday it kept turning off and today it won’t come on at all, I’ve tried different outlets in case it’s an issue on my end. This was a huge waste of money. Usually Amazon has a 3 month return window but when I tried to return it a while back I realized it was only a month on this item, probably because it stops working almost immediately. Very frustrating!

Eufy Genie

Eufy Genie

Score: 3.4 Stars
Reviews: 994
5-Star Review: 

Buying this was completely an impulse buy for me, I saw it on youtube advertised as a cheaper, better Amazon Alexa. I have an echo dot in my bedroom which life changing, so right off the bat I’m a huge Alexa fan. So I figured this Eufy Genie is super cheap for what it is, why not? I have it set up at my desk, next to my computer and It really has been an amazing purchase. The speakers are definitely louder than my echo dot, they’re good enough for me to not bother setting it up with another speaker. I like the design more than the echo dot, and setting it up was easier as well. If i HAD to complain about it, i was a little disappointed when I saw it couldn’t link with my spotify account directly. But I quickly learned you can just use it as a Bluetooth speaker, so it still works, and they mentioned that they’ll be releasing an update for it soon to make it compatible with many other services. 10/10 get this over an echo dot, if you’re on the fence about getting into the smart house game, just get this, it’s the best deal you’ll find.

1-Star Review: 

EDIT: Once upon a time, my only issue with the Eufy was that more than one of them didn’t function well together. You can read on for that. But lately, the Eufy just turns itself off. Or lights up but doesn’t respond. I can no longer use if for alarms or anything important because there’s no telling if it will be working when the alarm is set to go off. ANd it happens with both devices. It’s not a power issue–other devices are connected to the same outlets. It’s just a terrible product.

I have one Eufy in the kitchen, and one in the living room fifteen feet away. The unit in the living room regularly responds to the commands that I have given to the unit in the kitchen WHICH IS THREE FRICKIN’ FEET AWAY FROM ME and is BETWEEN me and the unit in the living room. WTF?? My voice goes past one Eufy, into another room and turns on that Eufy? I am so sick of having to stop what I’m doing in the kitchen, go into the living room to tell Alexa to shut the hell up, and then go back to the kitchen and speak in a hushed tone two feet away from the thing. The same thing often happens in reverse when I’m sitting in the living room AT THE DESK UPON WHICH THE EUFY SITS. Yet, the kitchen unit starts playing.

My apologies for all the caps. One Eufy made me very, very happy. Two Eufys just pisses me off.

KitSound Voice One

Voice One Kitsound

Score: 3.9 Stars
Reviews: 13
5-Star Review: 

The Kitsound Voice One Smart Speaker is an elegant looking cloth covered mini tower, with built in stereo speakers and a rear facing bass port. It has easily accessible front facing controls with visual color feedback from a lighted escutcheon depending upon the mode chosen.

It has an impressive stereo soundfield for a speaker that is 5 inches wide by 5 1/2″ deep by 11″ high. It has a very solid feeling, weighing just over 4 pounds. Plenty of mass to reverberate bass notes. It is best positioned about one foot from a wall or flat surface to makes the best use of the bass port located in the back.

It is a great speaker for streaming internet radio stations via Alexa through the Tunein network. It supports Spotify and that app can be controlled via one’s phone or tablet. I stream Amazon Music and easily access my playlists and album content.

The Voice One Smart Speaker has very good ears and can hear the Alexa wake word even it its whispered within several feet. If by any chance the music is playing too loud, a small KS icon lights up at the bottom of the front facing control pad, noting it may not hear the wake word, which indicates you can hit the pause button on the remote and she will hear you.

The Kitsound Voice One is easy to change modes with. Bluetooth is immediately responsive and syncs up quickly. The line in mode works very well with my Google Chromecast audio dongle. This makes the unit very capable of performing in three different modes effortlessly.

The remote control mirrors the design of the controls on the front of the Voice One. On the main speaker the circular volume control contains a lighted central element that feeds back what mode you are using and Alexa’s responses. On the remote the circular design is multipurpose, allowing track changing via the Kitsound Music Player and volume up and down. Plus the center portion acts as a pause button.

The power supply for the Kitsound Voice One is built inside the unit. It comes supplied with 3 line cords. One USA, one UK and one EU. So no wall warts to contend with. It is as simple as plugging a toaster into the wall socket. In the stand-by mode the Voice One consumes 2 watts. In wake mode, it consumes 2.8 watts and in play mode it consumes just less than 4 watts from a 120 volt AC source. So it is very green.

It comes with a quick guide user manual. A full featured illustrated 30 page user manual can be downloaded from the website. Also there is an insert for featuring Spotify.

In summary, this is a well thought out and designed smart speaker that has the added plus, missing from most other smart speakers, of stereo capability. This makes it a pleasure to listen to music from. It has plenty of volume and can play loud enough to hurt one’s ears. The Voice One can be added to up to 8 units altogether for full house coverage and is accessible by the Kitsound app for customizing same. Via the Alexa app I have full control over all the smart devices in my home with just the sound of my voice. It comes double boxed and has plenty of product protection within. No cost was spared to make this something you would really like to have and use.

Its a winner and I can highly recommend it.

1-Star Review: 

Very disappointed. Clunky and the Alexa cuts of the 1st few words most of the time



Score: 3.8 Stars
Reviews: 29
5-Star Review:

Ok, this is going to be long, because I’m going to tell you some things that you need to know before you get this speaker (whether you get just one, or, as I did, more than one for the multi-room function), so that you will know what they can, and can’t do – and how to do some of those things so that you don’t experience the frustration that I did (hopefully).

I purchased two of these specifically for the multi-room aspect, as I am planning a big dance party, with dancing in two rooms of my house, and so I was very excited to use the synchronized multi-room function.

Spoiler alert: I am, in fact, thrilled with the synchronized multi-room function.

But WOW did I spend a lot of time learning about both the features and limitations of this setup.

In anticipation of this Really Big Dance Party, I created an *awesome* dance mix playlist (if I do say so myself) on Amazon Music (playlist available upon request), which of course you can play on the Amazon Echo. I was very excited to set the speakers up and use them with my Echo, streaming my Awesome Amazon Music Playlist.

I quickly ran into the first rule of the GGMM E3 Speaker (there is no GGMM E3 Speaker): you *cannot* connect these to an Amazon Echo *except* via Bluetooth. There are any number of reasons that you may not want to do that (stability, etc.), but for me the most important reason was because of this:

The multi-room function works like this: the speakers are actually *on your wifi network* – they connect to the router in much the same way that an Echo does. Then you can – *in theory* – stream anything else that is on your home wifi network through the speakers.

Except…you can’t stream just any old thing. In order to stream an Internet service over wifi (like, you know, your Alexa service that comes with your Echo), the GGMM E3 Speaker app must offer it *via the app*, so that you can log in to your streaming service (Spotify, iHeartRadio, etc.) *through the app*. As of the time of this writing, Amazon and Pandora are both *not offered* through the app for this speaker*. The streaming services that you can log into with the speaker app are:


*Apparently the app for the GGMM M3 series speakers offers Amazon; I tried getting that app to work with these speakers – it doesn’t. Those speakers are twice the price as of the time of this writing, so before you hop on over there, read on.

Ok, so where was I…oh right, you can’t hook up an Amazon Echo to this speaker via wifi but, again, you can via Bluetooth.

But here’s the thing – if you have two or more of these speakers, and you want to use the multi-room function, you *must* use them on your wifi network. Not via Bluetooth. Not via auxiliary in.

Now, you may be thinking “Ha ha! I’ll put them on the network, and then connect my Echo via Bluetooth.”


These speakers can be *either* in Bluetooth mode, or wifi mode.

Your next thought might be “They have an ‘aux in’ input! I’ll line-out an Amazon Dot to the speaker while the speaker is on the wifi network!”


These speakers can be *either* in ‘aux in’ mode, or wifi mode.

In short, these speakers will only take *one* input at a time (please, no “what’s what she said” jokes).

Now, let’s get back to my saying that in order to use two or more speakers in multi-room mode the speakers *must* be on the wifi network. And as we’ve learned above, that means that the device from which you are streaming audio must *also be on the wifi network*, and you either have to have a way to ‘pull’ the audio stream over wifi (such as logging in to your Spotify account through the speaker app), or your audio streaming device must be able to ‘push’ the sound through the wifi network of its own accord.

In order for your device to be able to push the sound to the speakers, it has to be able to *’see’* them on the wifi network.

Fortunately, I discovered, after much trial and error and frustration (which, remember, I’m trying to save you) that both my computer *and* my smartphone, both being on my home wifi network, ‘saw’ the speakers!

And…the speakers actually magically appeared in the “Now playing on…” audio device list on my phone. Same with the audio-out dropdown on my computer.

That’s when my cunning plan did a slight pivot, and came to fruition.

Running the Amazon Music app on my phone, I was able to access the playlist I had created in Amazon Music, and stream it over the wifi network to the speakers! And, remember, this is still all on wifi (better signal stability than Bluetooth).

This setup ROCKS!!!

I have one speaker in each of the rooms in which there will be dancing to my Awesome Amazon Music Playlist at my Really Big Dance Party, and they will be playing the same music simultaneously!

What’s more, I can independently control the volume for each speaker, separately. (Extra-awesome: I can make the speaker in one room as loud as it needs to be from *another room*, *without standing next to the speaker and bursting an eardrum*!)

So, here’s the bottom line:

1 speaker + Echo (or anything else) via bluetooth = fine
1 speaker + auxiliary-in = great (the speaker comes with its own aux-in cord)
1 speaker on wifi = great

2 speakers with anything via Bluetooth = just one speaker working
2 speakers with anything via aux-in = just one speaker working

2 speakers via wifi and your device *on the wifi* network = *freaking amazing*!!!

Oh, one other note – I ordered these in the blue colour – from the pictures I’d thought that it would be a slightly metallic blue. It’s not – I mean it’s not metallic. Which is ok, but was a surprise.

1-Star Review: 

To setup this speaker you need to use an app on iOS. This app crashes continually when I bought the speaker a year ago, but worked well enough to configure the speaker for Bluetooth, AirPlay, and the time. Now? The app crashes immediately across all of the iOS devices at my disposal, rendering the speaker useless. If you want the flip side to the strangely effusive reviews here, check the App Store for a reality check. Search for the GGMM-E app. Almost entirely 1 star reviews.

When the speaker did work, I’ll just note that the sound on my unit was so bass heavy it made it near, but not quite, unlistenable. In retrospect I should have returned the speaker for that reason alone, yet alone the shoddy app.

Marshall Stanmore II


Score: 3.8 Stars
Reviews: 64
5-Star Review: 

I’ve only had it a few days and am enjoying every minute. The sound quality is great and I love the overall design. It looks high end sitting on by bookcase. It performs the same as my Echo devices. I’ve not noticed any lags or delays with Alexa response time. So happy with my purchase and would highly recommend.

1-Star Review: 

For starters on the bottom left corner there is a series of lights that constantly blinks on and off. Not a deal breaker but it is a pain if your in a dark room watching TV. The main reason I returned it was because it would not work with Apple Music. They build this up as a great sound system (which it is pretty decent) however it’s not compatible with the most popular music app used (Apple Music).

Bose Soundbar 700

Bose Soundbar 700

Score: 4 Stars
Reviews: 88
5-Star Review: 

Here we go:
I’ve had the Bose Soundbar 700 with the Base module 700 for about a week now. I wanted to wait to give a fair review.

I’ve never had a soundbar before, but had my tv hooked up to a Bose wave radio. It sounded great, but the radio started to act weird, so I did several weeks of research on sounbars and opted for this one. I was going to get the 300, but waited to get the 700 with Alexa! I love Alexa!

I’ve forked $1498 for a soundbar! That’s a LOT of money for me, but I like to get quality. The 700 does not have Dolby Atmos… Do we need it? I didn’t. I just want something to sound great. Well… This sounds FANTASTIC!

At first I was not very impressed. Is it because I already had my tv hooked up to a Bose? I wasn’t sure.

I watched TV… Well… Nothing much there.

I listened to music… WOW! That sounds really good!

I watched a movie (Star Wars) that was great.

Nothing blew my mind…and I was wondering WHY? This cost me $1500!!!

Then I started playing with the Bose Music App… Went to “Adjustments” and started to play with the settings.
There are 3 main settings : Bass, Treble and Center Channel.
Depending on your personal preferences, you can have this soundbar sound like crap or like an awesome movie theater!


My settings, for my living room space are:
Bass: 80, Treble: 0, Center Channel: 20
This made Star Wars go from “Meh!” to “Holy Sh#@” (sorry for the language, but I have make a point)
Movie theater sound in my living room.

So after initially being a little disappointed, I played with the settings and I am just blown away with the quality of the sound.

I am not sure how to describe it… The sound is loud and extremely clear, without being loud!!! The bass are there, filling the whole room without noticing that it’s there. It’s clear loud sound in a very pleasant way. Hard to explained, you have to experience it!

It was very easy to set up! I am not sure where the complaints are coming from. The soundbar updated automatically as soon as I setup wifi.
The remote paired without a problem!

Alexa, as always, is absolutely AWESOME. You cannot control your tv with Alexa… I’m kinda disappointed on that… But maybe a future update will fix that.
You can control the volume of what you’re watching with Alexa.

The bass module, once plugged in, pretty much instanly synced to the soundbar through the app! No problem.

About the sound module… Well i hated spending $700 for bass… $700,that’s a lot of money!!! But I am glad I did. It provides an immersive sound. It’s almost like it’s not there, but it is the REAL STAR of the show.
I connected it and disconnected it several times to hear the difference. And I must say it is a MUST HAVE, if, like me, you are looking for “Movie Theater Sound”.
It IS a lot of money, but take a loan out, it’s worth it. It makes the difference between “nice” and “Holy Cow what’s happening?”

No dolby atmos well… Once you hear this, you won’t care!

Superb product!

To sum up:

-If you only watch TV, just go cheap like a Vizio at walmart.

-If you’re looking for immersive Theater quality, room filling sound that is clear and loud without feeling loud (hard to explain)… THIS IS IT!

I do not work for Bose… ;o)

Update 10/29/18:
Bose updated the software and they must have changed some settings for the bass. I had to turn it down from 80 to 60… I might even go down to 50! It’s shaking the room even more than before! Love it!

1-Star Review: 

I had problems with this from the start, and its all software related. Soundbar wouldn’t pair correctly with subwoofer. AdaptIQ didn’t work. Alexa didn’t work. Trust me, i’m not an idiot when it comes to technology. This is obviously spotty programming on the software and app developer, and a miss on Bose’s QA department for not flushing it out and pushing this product out prematurely. They deserve this rating.

Update: Okay let me be more specific on the problems. With the SB700, basically all setup has to be done in the App. When pairing the soundbar to Subwoofer Module 500, it would pair (I can see by the light), but the application said it was searching for an endless amount of time and never told me it recognized it. I spent an hour trying to figure it out, but finally figured out it paired even though the App was wrong. I followed the directions to run Adapt IQ. In SB700, this function lies in the App.. Well the App did not give me an option to “Run Adapt IQ”. You go to Settings>AdaptIQ> and it was completely blank.. The directions told me to go to a specific section of the App to setup Alexa… Well, this section didn’t exist in the App, either. Okay, so let me rate the sound quality itself. The SubWoofer 500 sucks, you can barely hear the bass. The soundbar itself is not bad, but when you account for the price ($800 for the soundbar by itself), you don’t get what you pay for. You can get a better sounding Soundbar + Subwoofer for that price (And i did)

Bose Home Speaker 500

Bose Home Speaker 500

Score: 3.9 Stars
Reviews: 113
5-Star Review: 

Hack…I want to listen to Audible books on my BHS 500. I paired it with my Echo Spot. I tell the Spot to play my book. Bose plays it.

Okay, setup was relatively easy. The sound, as we expect from Bose, is extraordinary. The box itself is very cool looking, looks good where ever you put it.
Once connected to Alexa, I connected it to Amazon Music which is where I get most of my music. I subscribe and also have about 8,000 songs stored there. If you have other music sources/stations, they’re pretty easy to connect as well.
I had one major disappointment and one minor. I listen to a lot of books, and was sad when Alexa said she could not play Audible books. I hope that will be remedied in a future firmware update.
Minor disappointment: Like so many new Alexa compatible devices, the wake word is Alexa. No other choices. So, this is Bose great, Alexa familiar, but just waiting for Bose to make it better.
I almost gave it a 4, but the sound is just too good.

1-Star Review: 

This speaker looks great, and sounds great, when it works. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as advertised. It connects to Bluetooth just fine. But so do all Bose wireless speakers. The real selling point of this speaker was it’s seamless connection to multiple music services. That capability is a disaster. I have reliable and fast wireless in my home. My Bose Speaker 500 was extremely difficult to connect to WiFi. Just setting up the speaker was extremely frustrating. It required multiple attempts to connect to the Bose Music app, and I mean I tried dozens of times. I unplugged the device multiple times. I reset to factory settings multiple times. I rebooted my WiFi multiple times. It finally connected after an hour. The app is horrible, the connection to the device is horrible. And I haven’t even started to discuss how awful the music service playback works. It absolutely refuses to play SiriusXM. Nothing I do works. That was a primary reason I purchased this device, and at this point I’ve given up trying to connect to Sirius. It won’t even play music from my Amazon Prime account, that should work easily through Alexa. No such luck for me. Other elements of Alexa work ok. It will tell me what the temperature is outside, so I’ve got that going for me. Of course, that’s not why I spent $400. It’s a complete waste of money. The Bluetooth connection works fine, but you could spend half this much money to get a good sounding speaker with that capability. Do not waste your money on this awful product.

JAM Rhythm

Jam Rhythm

Score: 4 Stars
Reviews: 123
5-Star Review: 

for around $50 this thing is a steal. I’m using it as a single speaker in my bathroom – listening to podcasts in the shower etc…, it’s not for critical listening.

It’s compact-ish for the sound it makes and handsome enough, it’s clearly no AirPod, but it’s $50.

For an iPhone/mac household the airplay function is really all you need, I try to avoid Bluetooth when I can. It has an AUX port if you’re desperate.

I’m very impressed with it at the price, my sole gripe is the maximum volume is WAY too loud, the speakers start giving up at about 80%, above that it turns into a clattering, flapping mess. If you need it that loud, you need something else.

To be clear: if this is the nicest speaker in your home, I weep for you. [Please own a stereo people, they’re delightful]

I don’t/wouldn’t use the app, or any of the multi-room options.

1-Star Review: 

The newer wifi protocols (WPA2+PSK) have router or access points with no ‘WPS Button’ on them. this speaker does not have the newer appropriate software to connect without a WPS BUtton on your wifi router/access point (nor at work if you do not have access to such a button, should your IT dept even still have an old WPS Button style router).

Many, perhaps the majority, of HOME systems still have wifi routers with WPS buttons, however, it is a declining tech.

Check to see if you have a WPS Button on the wifi access point/router in the location you intend to use this jam wifi home audio speaker model HX-W14901

RIVA Concert

Riva Concert

Score: 3.8 Stars
Reviews: 143
5-Star Review: 

After reading James Jonas’s review, I felt the need to respond. I too, am a verified purchaser of the Riva Concert for 6 weeks. I have actually purchased several speakers from Riva due to their realistic, and believable sound. After reading that Mr Jonas is an “audiophile” yet likes the sound of Bose speakers, it allows me to now call myself a dentist because I brush my teeth everyday! Of all the brands on the market, no one over-processes their speaker sound more than Bose. Noise cancelling headphones are their forté and that were it ends for them. As for the Concert, I actually find the sound to be well balanced and that the bass, midrange and treble to be well spaced and sound staged for a stand alone single speaker. I personally think one is hard pressed to find a quivalent or better sounding speaker for its size and price. As far as the Alexa portion, I initially did not follow the instructions for set up and had some trouble, after reading and following the instructions, I have had no issues with the speaker and it’s Alexa functionality.

1-Star Review: 

This is my second one after the first one was faulty and exchanged. This one seemed OK to start with then started to go downhill, won’t even turn off and constantly needing to be rest to get it to work, also the app needs to be constantly reinstalled. The sound was OK but now sounds tinny, not what should be expected for $200. Tried to return it but Amazon were no help whatsoever. told me I’d missed the return window by 3 days – they transferred me to their tech support person who couldn’t help and told me to contact Riva Support as the item has a two year warranty. I spoke to them and at first they appeared to be helpful, and even said they’d send a new one – since then I’ve heard absolutely nothing from them despite numerous attempts to find out whats going on.

Sonos One


Score: 3.9 Stars
Reviews: 156
5-Star Review: 

When I had just purchased a home, I was looking into having it wired for whole-house audio. Looking into multi-room systems on Amazon, it was apparent to me that it wouldn’t be cheap: cost of the speakers, controllers, PLUS cost of running wires throughout the house. When I saw the SONOS PLAY:1 promotions, I found its wireless solution to be more cost effective, and with better speakers to boot. I have since tried the SONOS ONE speakers that were realized in late 2017. In 2019, the Sonos ONE (Gen 2) was released, which currently offers no significant advantages over its predecessor except for 2 areas: faster processor (for future expansion) and Bluetooth LE (for speaker setup via Bluetooth at this time).

Below are the pros and cons that led me to decide for the Sonos system.

NOTE 1: a Sonos BRIDGE is NOT needed to use the PLAY:1 or ONE. See the INSTALLATION section of this review.
NOTE 2: the PLAY:1 is the same as the ONE without voice and touch integration. As such, the PLAY:1 is less expensive.
NOTE 3: the ONE (Gen 2) is virtually the same as the ONE (Gen 1) except for a faster processor and Bluetooth LE included. This makes it slightly more future proof.

– Hi-Fi. Speakers sound better than the multi-room, wired systems I looked at for less than $500.

– Resale Value. Wired speakers don’t add much resale value to your house. So, why spend $1000s, only to leave the audio system behind when you sell the property or move? With wireless, I could take my expensive speakers with me to my new home.

– Freedom to move around.
With wireless, you are free to take the speakers anywhere you want throughout the whole house. For neighborhood block parties, I could even hook up the speakers to an extension cord out to the street, and stream music from my home. Or take it outside to your backyard. They are moisture-proof, but I wouldn’t use them as permanent outdoor speakers unless you enclose them in protective casings.

NOTE on wireless: each SONOS component is its own wireless client and repeater. Sonos wireless is a private, wireless “mesh” system, separate from your home WiFi. What does that mean to you? It routes music through its own wireless, leaving your home WiFi untouched. There’s an additional benefit for that, as I’ll explain after the installation note below. Most of the Sonos components (PLAY:1 and ONE are NOT one of them) have 2 network ports. This means, you can plug in the component into the network jack, and use the 2nd one on the speaker to connect your laptop.

– Alexa integration: the speakers now support voice control, though it is a work-in-progress. Sonos updates the capabilities via software updates over time. Google Assistant support is scheduled to come in 2019, making the ONE a more desirable option than having a Google Home and Amazon Echo in the house. I do get frustrated far more often with Alexa not understanding me or my request. My whole family enjoys Google Assistant’s better answers and ability to understand us. We can’t wait for Sonos to bring the Google Assistant to the ONE. Note: we aren’t fans of the Alexa on the Echo Dot either. Google Assistant is just that much better at recognizing commands and providing data. However, Alexa is a bit more advanced in the automation space. Pros and Cons, but that’s for another review.

[Update 5/2019 Google Assistant integration: it finally arrived and wow, the voice recognition is SO MUCH better! Our whole family is actually happy. Note that Assistant is not yet as fully capable as on Android smartphones or Google Home, but it is sufficient for answering queries and controlling smart devices.]

INSTALLATION: First, the tech talk. You need 1 Sonos component to be plugged in to your home network (any of the PLAY speakers, Soundbar, Bridge, etc.) So, as an example, you must plug in either the BRIDGE or the ONE to your network with a network cable. This turns that component into a wireless access point (or as consumers tend to call it, a “Wifi router”.) All other Sonos components will now be able to wirelessly talk to that plugged-in device. No other Sonos component has to be plugged in, as long as it’s within wireless range of the plugged-in one. Should a component in your house be too far away (say, your garage) from the plugged-in one, you can connect it to your network via cable, if available, or set up a Sonos BRIDGE (or any other Sonos speaker) wirelessly somewhere between the plugged-in one and the Garage speaker. The BRIDGE or other speaker strengthens the wireless from the plugged-in one, and extends the range to the one in the Garage. Each Sonos component is both a wireless client, and a wireless access point/repeater. Each component talks to each other in a mesh network. Think of a spider net. Any part that is touched vibrates to the rest of the net.

Tech-talk aside, think about this: One person (Person 1) is at a corner of the house. When he shouts, the person in the garage (Person 2) can’t hear Person 1. The only way Person 1 can talk to 2, is to pick up the phone (talking over a wired connection, or plugging a distant Sonos component to the wired network) or having Person 3 stand between them (having a Sonos component physically be between both speakers) and relaying the information back and forth (what WiFi mesh would do). So, with each Sonos component/speaker, the Sonos wireless range gets extended.

With the Sonos wireless mesh, you could humorously place a few speakers into each house in the neighborhood, and suddenly play the same music through each home. Try that with Bluetooth speakers. You wouldn’t be able to.

WiFi mesh TIP: if you have an Android device, you can Google “Android devices on SonosNet”, and you will see instructions on how to use your Sonos wireless network (“SonosNet”) to connect your Android phone/tablet. This allows you to use your mobile device further away from your home WiFi. This has disadvantages and advantages out of the scope of this review. I decided not to use SonosNet for my tablets.

NOTE: a Sonos BRIDGE is NOT needed to use the ONE. Just plug in the ONE to the wired network (ie your router), and it will work just fine. You still control it with the Sonos App from your mobile device. Once the ONE is plugged in, you can add other Sonos components to the system. A BRIDGE is NOT needed for that either. It’s only needed if you want to extend the Sonos wireless range to a farther part of your house or yard for $50 vs buying another PLAY speaker for $100+)

– Small size. The BRIDGE is about the same size as an Apple TV/Roku/WD TV Live. The ONE is about 2-3 of them stacked on top of each other. The ONE has a fairly hefty weight, a good sign of the good sound coming from its components.

– Ease of Pairing. To pair other Sonos components (or with the Sonos Controller App), simply hit the Play/Volume Up button on the speaker, and the same combination on the other speakers. If pairing with the BRIDGE, hit the pair button on that component.

– LED. The Bright LED can be configured to turn on/off via the Sonos app.

– Ease of music sync.
You can use the free Sonos app for your Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod), Windows Phone, Mac/Windows laptop/tablet (sadly, no Windows Store app yet) to control how the speakers play: you can easily choose which speakers to pair/unpair into groups. Grouping the speakers allows you to play the same music on those speakers. You can have up to 32 separate groups. You can also individually control each speaker from the app. Each group’s volume is controlled by the Sonos app. So, if Speaker 1 is set to 50% volume, and Speaker 2 is set to 25%, lowering the volume by 5% will lower Speaker 1 to 45%, and 2 to 20%.

Once music is playing, you can leave the house, and it will continue to play — as long as the music source is not coming from that mobile device (meaning: if you’re playing MP3s from your phone, and your phone leaves, it will stop playing. But if you started Pandora from your phone, or you told the speaker to play music off one of your network shares, it will continue playing since the source is coming from a device that’s still at home.)

PARTIES: one cool feature is that once you download the Sonos Controller app and pair it to one of the Sonos speakers (which authorizes the app/phone to talk to your Sonos system — this prevents unauthorized people outside your home from controlling your speakers), each device can control the playlist. So, if you have guests coming over, and each guest downloads and authorizes the Sonos app to your system, each guest can now add/remove songs from the queue. Everybody can now be a DJ.

– Stereo pairing for ONE.
You can take two ONE speakers and set them up as Left & Right channels for stereo output. WARNING: you cannot pair ONE and the older PLAY:1 for stereo. You either have to use two PLAY:1 or two ONE.

– Expandability.
Sonos did a smart thing. They released the less expensive PLAY:1/ONE to wet your/my appetite. As you use the system, you will likely buy more Sonos components to expand your sound system, resulting in more revenue for the company. You can add any Sonos component to your system, and they will all work in harmony. You can set up a complete home theater system that way too. I know, sounds pricey. It is. But it still is cheaper than having your whole house wired with nice speakers.

– Alarm/Sleep timer.
You can set up each speaker (or Group of speakers) to play music at a specific time, day, and volume (Alarm) from a specific source for a specified amount of time. Or you can also set a Sleep timer to play music for a specific number of minutes to ease you into sleep. I love getting waken up by mellow music (ie. Norah Jones) in the morning, and when I leave the home, I don’t have to worry about turning off the speakers. It’ll automatically turn off after the 45 minutes I set up for the alarm.

– Sound. Sound quality is quite good. I will leave you with the reviews by others to read more about that. With the Sonos app, you can control Bass, Treble, and volume. I have the speakers play between 15% to 25% volume in each room — they are plenty loud enough. Setting them to 100% can be heard through the whole house — and the potential for your neighbors to complain. Even at low volume, the sound is very good. It’s definitely better than most Bluetooth speakers. If you put the ONE in the corner of a room, the sound seems a bit more muffled due to the amplification of the Bass by the walls on both ends. You can fix this by adding more Treble, or by moving the speaker away from the corner.

– Design. The ONE and BRIDGE are beautiful devices. They don’t look out-of-place in my home. I bought the White ones.

– Capacitive touch control: works very well.

I couldn’t find many cons with the ONE. But here are some that have annoyed me.

– Lack of screw hole for mounting onto stands like the PLAY:1. The ONE replaced the PLAY:1’s screw hole with the power button. As such, an entirely new stand needs to be purchased, and Sanus makes one that accommodates the ONE and Play:1.

– Cost. The Sonos system is expensive. Just look at the price of the other components. Holy moly. Still, if you were to wire your house with Bose speakers, the Sonos system is comparatively inexpensive. Again, I chose Sonos because wiring the house won’t add much resale value. I like the idea of being able to take my Sonos with me to my new home.

– Sonos App Interface. The app is clunky and looks outdated. It took me a while to figure out where to go to do what (and I love gadgets/toys. I’m a technology tinkerer!). It’s not very user friendly.

– Music sources. Not all apps can play to the Sonos speakers. You have to use the Sonos App, add the approved source to it, then you can play from that source. I wish you could re-route any audio from any device to the speakers. Pandora, network shares (NAS), iTunes, TuneIt Radio (built-in), iPod/iPad/iPhone, media files on your own Android/Windows device are all possible sources. At one point (if I remember correctly), my not-so-tech-savvy dad was able to beam his iPad’s YouTube sound to the speakers without using the Sonos App. I didn’t get a chance to verify how he did it, but I did see the ONE being available as a target on his iPad. Perhaps it was playing via the DLNA protocol. Either way, that was neat.

– Input source. I wish that the ONE had a Line-in/Aux port so that you can connect any music source to it for playback, such as your TV or existing home entertainment system. Yes, the Sonos CONNECT takes care of that, but look at the price of that component! Even then, the CONNECT doesn’t support SPDIF/Optical input.

Weren’t it for the Amazon/Target promotions on Black Friday, I would have been EXTREMELY hesitant to buy these expensive speakers. I bought two ONE during the promotion. With that said, overall, I’m quite pleased with the purchase. It came out cheaper than wiring the house, and I get to control my music from any of the mobile devices. That’s neat. Lower the prices of your other components, Sonos! I hope for increased competition in the market to drive the prices down — as of today, I’m not aware of any good, alternate, wireless HiFi solution.

1-Star Review: 

Seriously just want to be done with Sonos. Was excited at first but the introduction of the Sonos Playlist is pure cancer. I am listening to a song from the radio. We will take Google service for example. I can add it to my Google library which throws the song into oblivion or I can add it to my Sonos Playlist. Whoopie. I can’t use Sonos Playlist anywhere except a place where I have Sonos. So I’m in my car… Nope, on my head phones, nope. At work… Still nope. I want to add songs that I listen to, to whatever Playlist I want. It would be so simple and it used to do this. Click add to Google or whatever Playlist and then choose one.
All I now get is Sonos. By doing this you take away my ability to be mobile and convent which I believe is the corner stone to the product. Alexa or Google assistant and extremely slow and most of the time doesn’t recognize my voice if the music volume is up.

Last piece I know Sonos Playlist is good for home allowing me to utilize multiple different playforms of music. But it should be an option not the only thing.

GGMM Portable Speaker


Score: 4.2 Stars
Reviews: 210
5-Star Review:

I am not your average person reviewing a Bluetooth speaker because I am a collector of quality audio products. I have 38 Bluetooth speakers, yes I said 38. I have all the popular ones from Bose, Aiwa, JBL, Klipsch, Beats, and many others. I also have mid-to-high end systems from Onkyo, Bose, and Yamaha, as well as mid-tier products from Sony, Kenwood, JL Audio, and JBL so I have heard quality products perform.

I directly compared this speaker with the Soundlink 3 which is about the same size but costs more, a lot more when I got it. The sound is on par with the Bose, but with the added ability to quickly adjust the Bass and Treble, the GGMM E5 can easily be tuned to sound superior to the Bose. I have developed into a bit of an audiophile, and I enjoy accurate reproduction of sound. With a few minor turns of the adjustment knobs, the GGMM can become one of the most authentic sounding speakers I have heard. I turned the bass down and the treble up a little, and there it was, the sound I was seeking. It doesn’t have the raw power of a Diamond box or Aiwa, but for being very portable it sounds better than the rest.

I have not listened long enough to rate the battery, but the connection to Wi-Fi is super easy. Just download the GGMM E-series app and follow the instructions. Airplay works flawlessly. Bluetooth works just like other Bluetooth speakers.

The key thing to remember is that this GGMM E5 sounds great and has all of the connection options you can ask for in any speaker. I paid full price for this speaker and will buy more GGMM products.

1-Star Review: 

Design : Very nice and slim, easy to carry. It doesnt have very much air way for the bass. But it produces bass just not that booming type.

Sound : Very nice, clear, crisp , wow ! Amazing. One of the speakers that i really love and wish i kept. But after a month or 2 the sound on the left speaker starts to get blown. I really wish it kept its quality of sound for a long time. It would of been great.

Packaging : Came with everything as described. The box of the speaker was a bit damage but it didnt damage the speaker.

I rate this speaker a star because of its design and quality of the sound. Also because you can control the bass and treble without any trouble.

Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST


Score: 3.8 Stars
Reviews: 405
5-Star Review: 

After doing research to determine the best blue tooth speakers to buy, UE was almost always at the top of the list. I was initially going to go with the magaboom 3 because of being able to pair several speakers and use as stereo but Amazon had the Megablast graphite color on sale for 1/2 off. I went ahead and got 2 because UE had stated in April, 2018 that they were going to release an update later in the year that would make it possible to pair several Megablast/Blast speakers. It took almost a year but just recently they released a beta app that now makes this possible. I just tried it earlier today and it made the speakers go from excellent to amazing. These speakers are now worth giving serious consideration when buying. They don’t have the features of the Megaboom/Boom that you would want for parties or, if you have the money, to have several in several rooms playing different apps. Now with the upgrade, I think the are worth considering paying extra for a better sound quality and better connectivity for pairing through WiFi as apposed to blue tooth as the Booms do. There are negative reviews about connectivity issues but I have not experienced any exclusive to these speakers. The negative reviews are typical of the problems I see with the blue tooth smart trainer, scale, GPS bike computer, laptop, phone ear piece etc that I own. Bluetooth is still not perfected on any device. If you want speakers for partying, get the Booms. If you want better sounding speakers that are still good for an occasional partying, consider getting the Blast speakers.

1-Star Review: 

I love Amazon. I love Ultimate Ears. Have had other UE speakers and loved the Mega Boom. When I saw UE was making an Alexa enabled speaker I was sold.

First use it disconnected for no reason and no matter what wouldn’t reconnect.

Unlike other UE speakers, cannot turn off the startup and power down sounds.

Nasty buzz, static, hiss, bacon sizzle all the time. Speaks to the quality of the electronics (or lack thereof) that such static is so bad that it is audible with music playing. I almost think I received a counterfeit product it is so bad.

All of this is AFTER a software update on a brand new product.

Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam

Score: 4.2 Stars
Reviews: 569
5-Star Review: 

I replaced my legacy Paradigm speaker system and Yamaha receiver that originally cost $$$ with the Sonos Beam and two Sonos Play:1s. I couldn’t be happier! I’m using it with an LG oled55b7p (shown in my photo).

Audio: It sounds great! The late night setting (voice boost and lower loud noises) is very helpful. The native Apple Airplay streaming without the need for the Sonos app (it allows streaming collectively to the Play:1s also) is a great bonus also.

Alexa: For those of you wondering, if you do not wish to integrate with Alexa you just skip that part in the setup and the microphone is never connected.

Reuse your old non-Sonos subwoofer tip!!
I get that the Sonos ecosystem just works and they want you to buy their subwoofer and thus they have no subwoofer out jack (you need to use their wireless sub). However, if you already have an existing sub woofer, like I do, it’s a shame to waste it. I’ve come up with a great solution. Since the Beam uses HDMI for its audio your TV likely has a free optical out port. Using the optical out port connect a 5.1 Audio Sound Decoder Converter to 5.1CH Analog Audio (6RCA Output). I used this one here: All you need to do is connect your RCA cable to subwoofer connection on the box and you have bass for under $50!

1-Star Review: 

I have a LG OLED and beam and have the Dolby Digital audio processing lag over ARC and Optical output that is mentioned every day over on the Sonos Community Forums. Seriously, it’s the top post in Home Theater on the Sonos furms. The Beam suffers from a .4s audio lag behind the video when playing Dolby Digital audio. It’s heavily noticeable. The beam simply doesn’t work with LG OLEDs and/or certain Sony TV’s. This is a HUGE caveat and hopefully people read before buying.

IMO, Sonos rushed this product to market. They make great music speakers but aren’t ready for TV speakers. Incompatibilities with top brand TV’s is pretty unreal in this day and age. Especially for a high end product like this.

The other issue I have is codec support. Sonos has DD support and literally nothing else. It’s really pathetic. Every other sound bar manufacturer has more than 1 codec support. Dts, Vision, atmos, DD+ should all be supported these days. All of them are heavily used in industry.

The current solution according to the Sonos forums is buying additional aftermarket equipment (an hdmi optical splitter $50) and completely bypassing the LG OLED. This fixes the lag issue but then it completely breaks Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos which uses DD+ for their high end videos. Everyone watches Netflix these days but guess what Sonos doesn’t support DD+ and since you’re now bypassing the TV it wont convert the DD+ to DD and u get no sound or u have to go into the settings every single time u play something and change it to stereo. This solution also removes ARC and CEC support one of the biggest selling points of the Beam.

The other solution I see around is forcing to PCM which is stupid cuz you lose Dolby digital altogether and just bought a 400 speaker that now only supports stereo which u can likely get for less than a hundred dollars.

The speaker sound is great but the # of compatibility issues and workarounds needed to get this to work is absolutely insane.

People say it’s not rocket science. But I’m literally a NASA rocket scientist and even I can’t get this to work properly. I really hope people read this comment before purchasing. I wish i had known a lot of these issues beforehand.

Asus Lyra Voice


Score: 3.8 Stars
Reviews: 6538
5-Star Review: 

********* Updates *********
– New firmware Haven’t had chance to use for too long yet but issue with device list has been fixed, and it seems now I can just restart Node without restarting router then node in the specific order. Still no second 5GHz band usable to Smart Connect.
– Added Advanced feature section as I got to use some of those features.
– Update second 5G band direct connection section (only connects to router but not node).
– Update Setup section, as for me reboot router and node order makes difference.
– Added Router/Node switch Section
– After 3 weeks of experience,
o Update AiMesh and stability sections, now up from 3 stars to 4 stars features. See detail in corresponding sections.
o Discovered that second 5GHz band can be used as separate SSID in AiMesh mode. (forced dual band section)
o ASUS support very disappointing.
o Simplified conclusion
********* ********* *********

Outside of the price, the specs on this router is currently unbeatable. Just to list a few amazing features that this router offers:
1. Wifi 6 support
2. AiMesh feature
3. VPN Fusion feature
4. Extensive customization options
5. Gamer’s optimization (I cannot comment on this feature as I do not use this feature).

********* ★★★★★ Features *********

+++++ Speed +++++
The router performance is great. In proximity to the router, I can get 500-600 Mbps Wifi internet download speed with 2016 Macbook Pro as well as Ipad Mini 4 on my 1Gbps service. Even at distance when connected to 5GHz band, I can get upper 300’s Mbps download at least 30 ft away from the router.
+++++ Range +++++
Our 3800 sqft two story house needed 3 Orbi Mesh system or 3 Eero Pro system to cover end to end with adequate speed. A single GT-AX11000 covers most of our home except one end of the basement, likely due to concrete wall.
To put into the objective number, Orbi was fast and I could get 200+ Mbps Wifi download speed throughout my home, but very unstable. So I moved onto Eero. Eero got very stable system without a hiccup, running for months, but there were areas where my speed went down to 80’s or even lower Mbps for download. A single GT-AX11000 can get me 200+ Mbps throughout the house where the signal is reachable as long as connected to 5GHz band.
With AiMesh, most part of house I get 300+ Mbps and the worst area where I have no AiMesh Node, I still get 200+ Mbps. Though AiMesh to other Mesh network system I had are not directly compared here because I only got 1Gbps service recently and previously had only 400 Mbps service and also I did not have Ethernet back-haul option before. Nonetheless, I’m happy with coverage.
+++++ Advanced Features +++++
Although there are many features that I do not use or don’t know how to use, lately as I set up more smart home device/home automation system, I’ve been impressed by what this router offers as otherwise, it could have got a bit more work.
1) Static IP: Ax11000 allows single toggle button to each of its connected devices to get Static IP, which is based on MAC address of the device and handled by router side, so even after reboot of the router, this feature remains. If needed, even laptop/tablet can use this so going out of network and back is hand-free.
2) VPN Server: Fairly readily set up to remotely log into home network.
3) Free DDNS: This is run by ASUS and let you point to your home network router by This allows remote accessing of home devices easy as we do not have to worry about ISP changing your IP address and reconfigure VPN access etc.

********* ★★★★☆ Features *********

+++++ WIFI 6 support +++++
This is certainly one of the main reasons to choose this router. The potential gain of WIFI 6 (802.11ax) standard is huge including speed boost, battery saving, and more simultaneous device connection. However, in order to see these benefits, supporting client device is needed. Recently, Samsung announced their latest phones to feature these, but I currently don’t own any client device. Also, Ax standard is still a draft version, so final version may have additional features that this router may not support (who knows). Basically, this is the future proof but not yet testable at the time.
+++++ Setup +++++
As a standalone router, set up was easy. As an AiMesh system, the initial set up was also easy enough. However, once I change some parameters, the router goes offline and I must reboot the router and node manually. These should be automatic. Also, in my case default setting of AiMesh did not work so well.
[3/13/2019] As part of other home network change/upgrade, I occasionally need to turn of Mesh Node. But when I do so, in order to get solid network back, I have to restart router first and wait until it is fully up, then turn Mesh Node on. Otherwise, system acts up.
+++++ AiMesh +++++
This is another major reason why I chose this router. AiMesh feature allows ASUS routers to act as true Mesh system. Advanced users can potentially implement Mesh like system using Access Point and/or Repeater mode of routers, but this requires lots of tuning like selecting proper Channel to avoid conflict, selection of Roaming parameters etc. Dedicated mesh system is simple but lacks customization option. AiMesh allows us to buy new and the latest, feature rich router and turn that into new router then use older routers to be satellite node to cover better range of house. This is a brilliant concept. For this reason, I have purchased two ROG GT-AX11000 routers.
Initially by default setting, I had constant drop out of AiMesh node (satellite). This was fixed by making node into Ethernet mode where default setting was AUTO mode. The latter mode supposed to automatically choose the best connection either Wireless or Ethernet backhaul. In my case, I found out it tried to switch to Wireless but signal was too weak (as I intentionally placed in the area with weak signal), and then disconnects and instead of reconnecting to Ethernet, node went offline. Ever since the change, not a single event of node drop.
+-+-+- Stability +-+-+-
I have HEOS speaker network system. Originally when I got HEOS speakers, I thought it was the HEOS that was faulty system as some speakers kept disappearing from the App device list. But later I found out, it was the Orbi mesh network issue. This is because after switching to Eero mesh network, I had never had this issue once again.
After fixing AiMesh node into Ethernet backhaul mode, this got better; however, I still experienced occasional sudden, device not connected to internet. After doing online research, I eventually changed setting to disable MU-MIMO, universal beamforming and airtime fairness options on both 5GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, and also enabled quality of service in media/internet surf mode. Ever since these changes, the Wifi went rock solid without any drop out. I had 7 solid days without a single reboot. As I do other home network upgrading, I have to turn them off every once and awhile. So mid-term stability is rock solid with appropriate setting, but figuring these on my own were not easy, and I don’t expect everyone get as lucky.

********* ★★★☆☆ Features *********

+-+-+- Many customization options +-+-+-
Stand-alone router system has advantage over Mesh system for more sophisticated customization options to the advanced users. AX11000 has nothing short in terms of these options. This is great for advanced users, but for trouble shooting, too many options make impossible to figure out exactly what’s causing the problem. I think ASUS should make default setup so network stability is the highest priority then let user play around to get more optimized, faster speed.
+-+-+- AiMesh Forced Dual Band +-+-+-
In tri-band systems, AiMesh uses second 5GHz band for dedicated Wireless back-haul. This makes sense as keeping solid connection between the router and node is crucial in mesh network system, and Mesh system like Orbi uses this technology as well. However, what does not make sense is when I have the connection set to Ethernet mode (not AUTO), I see no reason to keep blocking the band. Basically, the router and node are now appears as dual-band system, which we can buy for cheaper price. There is a rumor on Internet forum, this may be reverted in future firmware update.
[3/13/2019] It turned out the second 5GHz band is usable by disabling hidden SSID option. If you try to change the name to match Smart Connect SSID, you get an error though. Also, this band is only accessible on main router and not on Mesh Node.
+-+-+- Router/Node switch +-+-+-
In an ideal world, transition from router to node connection should be smooth and user shouldn’t even notice when the switch happened. In my case, this is a mixed experience. Sometimes device sticks to the original router or node despite the other is closer and even experienced a complete device disconnect when transition is happening. This sensitivity; however, is configurable by user in AiMesh. One need to change RSSI setting. I changed mine and it seemed to work better. However, I wish ASUS implement something so that RSSI value is automatically adjusted based on day to day statistics or at least suggest user to change RSSI values. This is probably one of the most important parameter to adjust to get optimal Mesh experience.

********* ★★☆☆☆ Features *********

—– VPN Fusion —–
Another great feature on paper by ASUS. This feature allows individual device to go through specific VPN service using a single router/network. Previously, I had my old router set up to connect to VPN and devices that I want to connect to the VPN had to switch to the router.
This feature can be a 3 stars because I was able to get this working with some VPN service such as Express VPN, but not others. However, those that do not work on this router works on ASUS Merlin firmware installed another router, so I believe it is not VPN server side issue. Basically, I see VPN connected on both server side and router menu; however, internet becomes inaccessible. To make it even worse, it affects entire network rather than just the device I associate with the VPN. Since this is one of the feature ASUS advertise, and I see as relatively unique to only some of ASUS routers, I hope to see this fixed.

—– Devices disappearing from Network List —–
[Update 3/31/2019] Firmware has resolved this issue.

—– AiMesh Node not configurable —–
It makes sense for some features to be non-selectable/configurable on AiMesh node as the purpose of mesh system is to make one change and reflect to all as a whole system. However, some feature like “light” on node should be individually configurable.

—– Aesthetics —–
It looks like a giant spider.

********* ★☆☆☆☆ Features *********

—– ASUS Customer Service —–
I have submitted my issues on the Ax11000 soon after I received the first router. ASUS occasionally sent me email saying they are still working on then referring to special tech, which sounded a good customer care. However, they were all templated e-mails and most likely just to buy a time. After 3 weeks of wait, the response was very disappointing without any content that’s useful.


The main reason to choose this router is its WIFI 6 support. Currently, there are relatively limited options for WIFI 6 compatible routers, but many more are on its way. So why did I choose this over the other options? Noteworthy alternatives are ASUS AX88U, Netgear RAX120 and TP Link Archer AX11000.

Vs. ASUS Ax88U
Ax88U is cheaper and also supports AiMesh. But it’s a dual band, lacks VPN fusion feature and theoretical speed rating is 6000. So technically, ROG Ax11000 is better in all the specs. However, when used in AiMesh with Ethernet back-haul, I am losing a band anyways with current firmware, so Ax88U is likely to give the same performance with cheaper price.

Vs. TP Link Archer AX11000
This router also has 11000 speed rating. Furthermore, TP Link announced AiMesh equivalent OneMesh feature. Up on reviewing online, I just saw ASUS router gets higher rating in general and longer support from the company. But prior to current purchase, I’ve never had ASUS or TP Link router, so I just went with what I read. Also another feature I wanted was VPN Fusion but TP Link had no mention about this type of technology.

Vs. Netgear RAX120
Out of all system, I think this was the biggest alternative option for me. RAX120 has multigig LAN ports up to 5Gbps whereas, ROG GT-Ax11000 only has one 2.5 Gbps LAN port. However, RAX120 is 6000 speed rated with dual band. Netgear does not have direct competitor technology of AiMesh but has Orbi like Extenders with Ethernet back-haul option, but I felt conceptually AiMesh sounded better with more flexibility. For instance, if times comes and I really need 5Gbps or even 10Gbps LAN port, I can purchase next generation ASUS router with such feature and use both AX11000 as AiMesh node.

Vs. Other AX Mesh systems
Orbi, TP Link, and Arris will have Wifi 6 Mesh systems this year. I like and need Mesh system at home, but if we can get the Mesh functionality with more option/flexibility why would I choose more restrictive system? (Other than simplicity).

********* Conclusion *********

On paper, ROG Ax11000 is undoubtedly the best router on the market including what’s coming in near future. As a single router, this deserved 5 stars for sure.

In AiMesh mode, I had originally struggled due to network stability issue. I was lucky enough to solve this on my own with internet search; however, ASUS tech support was no help. I would have returned the devices if I couldn’t have solved the issue. Since default setting did not work smoothly, I expect there will be others having the same or some different issues, and may consider this device may be unusable in AiMesh mode. So I’d give 4 stars for AiMesh setting because set up can be very tricky but once one figures out, it works better than other Mesh system I owned in the past.
In the future, I hope VPN Fusion feature to be fully functional, third band to be optionally opens up in AiMesh mode and node to be configurable at least to some extent.

1-Star Review: 

After owning for a few months I cannot recommend this router.
Notice that 2.4ghz clients would have frequent internet drop-outs.
5Ghz working perfectly.
I always update to latest firmware and still 2.4ghz drops.
I reboot router in the morning, when I come home from work, 2.4ghz dead… but 5ghz fine.
Do a google search and find many with similar issues.
Very dissapointed,,, expensive router… will try to get replacement/refund.

Harman Kardon Allure Portable


Score: 4.3 Stars
Reviews: 43
5-Star Review: 

Amazing full sound from this “small” speaker. I was skeptical that this would be a true hk quality item, but I wasn’t disappointed.

Bass, mids and highs are all there. Very rich and full sound.

If it has a flaw, it’s that it has no carry handle. BUT, there is an available case here on Amazon that’s very good quality for about $20. Def a great investment. Makes it very easy to carry and is solid protection as well.

1-Star Review: 

Received a defective allure portable won’t charge. No indication that it’s charging while plugged in


Doss E-GO

Score: 4.3 Stars
Reviews: 130
5-Star Review:

Well, DOSS has out done themselves this time! I have a few of their products and this one has topped them all so far. I like the cloth cover and he way the buttons at arranged and the softness of them. The lighted DOSS button is a great idea. The rubber bottom has a soft grippy feel to it and the loop is very flexible. It’s lightweight but feels substantial in my hand. I have the grey one and it’s very nice to look at. Now, the sound. The bass is perfectly balanced and punchy. The bass guitars growl and have impact as well as the drums. The lower mods are clean and well defined. The highs are sweet and tingling. Very clear and musical. I will buy more for gifts so friends will have quality sound in their possession!! Yes I am raving about this speaker. I have 207 Bluetooth speakers in my collection. I’d say I am familiar with small speakers. This is an incredible value.

1-Star Review: 

Built great but they clam its 20 watts but my 5watt speaker blows it away. No bass and its got crispy highs so its very tinty sounding. The Alexa option doesn’t work at all, I am super tech savy and have the most up to date phone and it just doesn’t connect.



Score: 4.3 Stars
Reviews: 139
5-Star Review: 

Lately, my colleagues have been bragging about their Amazon Echo and Echo Dots. From what I understood, these devices only make shopping easier on Amazon. Since I already purchase too much from Amazon, I don’t need any help buying even more. I was still curious as to the additional capabilities of these devices so I searched for a cheaper alternative and found one from COWIN, manufacturer of some of the treasures I’ve found on Amazon. Hello COWIN DiDa!

Order to delivery took less than two days, thanks to Amazon Prime. Dida was professionally packaged to ensure no damage during transit (see photos). Included in the package were:

1 – Speaker with Amazon’s Alexa Integration
1 – Charging Cable
1 – Auxiliary Cable
1 – User Guide
1 – Registration Card

While DiDa was charging, I perused the user guide to familiarize myself with the device. The manual was easy to follow with lots of diagrams and photos for those who prefer visuals. In less than ten minutes, I completed reading the guide. I also installed the COWIN app.

After one and a half hour, DiDa was fully charged. DiDa was powered and I went through the Wi-Fi configuration. In less than five minutes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth setup were completed.

After playing a bunch of songs, I started my sound quality test. My expectations were high because other COWIN products I own produced high quality audio. The first track used was a live recording of a basso vocalist with two acoustic guitars, a flute and a clarinet. Low frequencies from the vocals were smooth. Mids from one of the acoustic guitars, flute and clarinet were sweet and soothing. Highs from the remaining acoustic guitar were crisp and sharp. So far, so good.

The next track used was heavy on bass guitar. Bass had a good punch and quite satisfying. In terms of quality sound reproduction, DiDa didn’t disappoint.

I applied Boom, a third-party equalizer to my test tracks and sound was taken to another level. Here’s a tip. When playing songs with a lot of low frequencies, don’t turn the volume too high or DiDa will start to rattle. Since I don’t like loud music, this was not an issue for me. I discovered this when I continually increased the volume beyond the level that I could tolerate for testing purposes.

Tests were conducted using the COWIN app on an iPhone 7 Plus with equalizer enabled and set to acoustic.
There is one design aspect of DiDa that is very commendable. I call it 360-degree sound. Because of the product’s ingenious design, regardless of where the product is facing, you get the same quality sound. You can be on the front, side or back and would not notice any difference in sound quality. Most other speakers have to be oriented properly so that you get the most sound out of them.

Now comes the fun part, interacting with Amazon’s Alexa through DiDa. By touching the microphone button, I could ask DiDa just about anything including weather, latest news, information on my orders, famous people, synonyms, play songs and many others. My son even tried to propose to Alexa and got rejected. Use cases with DiDa’s integration with Alexa are many including listening to news while preparing for work in the morning, quick information lookup when helping your child with homework, getting status on your Amazon orders, setting alarms, birthday greetings, listening to music and many many more. DiDa also has built-in services that you can enable or disable allowing access to services such as TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Spotify, QQMusic, Napster and a few others. With services, I was able to listen to music from my Amazon Music and Spotify subscriptions.

DiDa has two modes, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In Wi-Fi mode, DiDa uses Wi-Fi connectivity to access all the information needed from the Internet. In Bluetooth mode, you use your Bluetooth-enabled device to play songs or make and receive phone calls.

Usage is easy. The power button on the back is used to turn the device on and off. Buttons on the top include, Play/Pause, Minus, Plus, Microphone, W and M. Pressing the Minus button decreases the volume while holding it down plays the previous track. Similarly, pressing the Plus button increases the volume and holding it down plays the next track. The W button is used for configuring the device and connecting to Wi-Fi. The M button switches between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modes.

DiDa is capable of so much more with Amazon’s Alexa integration and I’ve barely touched the surface. This device will be extremely useful as Amazon improves Alexa’s capabilities. I’m glad to have followed my curiosity and took the leap with COWIN’s DiDa. My son has already claimed my current unit and I may have to purchase another one for myself.

There is one small adjustment I would like to see in the next version of this product. When pressing the Plus button to increase the volume, I would like to hear an indicator that tells me the maximum volume has been reached. Playing with many Bluetooth speakers got me used this feature and I would like to see it on DiDa.

The endless capabilities and high quality sound from COWIN’s DiDa easily garners this device 5 out of 5 stars in this review.

1-Star Review: 

When I first got this Bluetooth speaker I loved it but that only lasts for about 3 weeks. At that time it’s started losing a charge to the point where it wouldn’t charge at all I contacted Amazon which put me in contact with the manufacturer they said that they were going to be sending out a new one it is now a year-and-a-half later they are not returning my emails and I consider it a complete waste of money I will never do with this manufacture again.



Facebook Portal

Portal by Facebook

Score: 4.3 Stars
Reviews: 922
5-Star Review: 

I did a LOT of reading about these things before making the decision to purchase 4 of them, and I couldn’t be happier. My husband and I wanted to be able to keep in better touch with his parents and grandmother, my parents, and my sister who lives out of state. We wanted something simple that our parents could use, since they always spend half of our video chats unable to get their microphones on their laptops to work, or some other technical issue. It also seemed like having a device specifically made for video calling would cause us to talk more often. We never think to open Skype or other programs up on our devices (or even call them on the phone for that matter), but having a device out in the open with the person’s name and face popping up whenever they become “active” on Messenger really makes me excited to hit the call button just to check in and say “hi” and chat.

I was nervous before purchasing because of the number of articles that claimed the idea of them was “creepy” and that they had an “always listening microphone”. What they didn’t explain is that there is a button on the top of the device that turns both the camera and the microphone off, and the device displays a red light when they’re both turned off (pictured). It also comes with a camera cover.

The speakers in this thing are LOUD. I haven’t turned it up past 2/3 of its limit. Camera tracking and video calls are perfect. I’ve been using Spotify on this almost nonstop since we received it, and what also surprised me was that when I started it on the Portal, Spotify popped up on my phone and allowed me to control the Portal volume and change the songs on it from my phone, like a remote.

I am very, very happy with this purchase. It honestly far exceeded my expectations. I’m excited for how easy it suddenly is to stay in touch with our loved ones, and how this device encourages you to call and talk to people. Anyone who says that you can do the same with a tablet, how often are you actually sending video calls from your tablet? This is a video phone, and every time I look at it, it makes me want to reach out to my family. I love it.

1-Star Review: 

First, I think this is a great idea and an exciting product A simple, turnkey piece of hardware for doing Facetime with some great features. The problem is, it’s a product by Facebook who is only really known for their social media application, not for specialized hardware devices. And there’s a world of difference between those two worlds.

As applications go social media applications are not terribly demanding nor highly sophisticated programs compared to many other applications. Especially when they’re written in such a way as to function in the browser world. Specialized hardware applications, on the other hand, must take into account not only the dedicated application that runs on it, but also the hardware and device interfaces that allow it to connect the the outside world. This is the stuff that can become very tricky when trying to make those complex hardware interactions appear to be very simple and bulletproof. Given how easily this type of thing has become in these day of WiFi connected smartphones, computers, laptops, and streaming devices it’s easy to overlook that complexity unless you’ve been in the hardware world for a while. And this is where this device fails.

Right out of the box when this device fires up it presents the user with a list of available WiFi connections. You select the one you want and you’re asked to enter your password for that network. It sounds simple, but if it fails you don’t get much information about why it failed, so troubleshooting it is a problem. The device doesn’t come with any information about where to call for support, so unless you know how to do a Google search and find the support site, you’re stuck. Once you get in touch with the support line they run you through some very simplistic troubleshooting steps such as a reset of the device and power cycling your WiFi router (which affects anyone or anything else that happens to be using that router at the time). After those few simple steps it gets beyond what the first level of support can provide and they escalate it to the more advanced support group who, in my case, simply emailed me to send it back to Amazon and get a replacement. Given this experience I determined they really weren’t ready to be operating in today’s more sophisticated hardware environment quite yet and simply sent it back for a refund.

The device came with very little in the way of documentation of support information. If you’re trying to make it appear to be simple, then it must be bulletproof. Otherwise, it’s just frustrating and not worth the time. Especially for the price they’re asking for it.

Echo Plus (2nd Gen)

Echo Plus Gen 2

Score: 4.6 Stars
Reviews: 4635
5-Star Review: 

Short & Sweet – For what it is, this device is amazing. Performance is quick, audio is great, and the built-in Zigbee hub works quite well.

Longer Review;

After dragging my heels for over a year, I finally bought our first Echo (2nd Generation) back in August. I loved it so much that I got us 2 more for other areas in the house. Being able to group them and play the same music or audio throughout the house is a novelty that won’t grow old for me. I’ve only wished that they had a little more full sound, especially at higher volume. I’d considered the last Echo Plus, but the average of reviews I read didn’t make it appear to perform significantly better than our already great 2nd Generation Echos.

When I saw this new Echo Plus listed, I pre-ordered it to “replace” the Heather Grey Echo in our kitchen and move that one to our bedroom. We tend to have music playing in the kitchen more than any other room, and I wanted slightly better sound than the regular Echo in there. I’m honestly glad we took a chance on this device without any reviews to go by.


As you can see in the photos, it’s pretty much identical in height to the 2nd Generation Echo. It is a bit wider to accommodate the larger speakers, and the top is slightly domed instead of being flat. A similar 7-microphone array is on top and they seem to work just as well. There also appears to be a tripod-style connector on the base of the unit.


Setup was surprisingly easy as this Echo Plus detected our network settings on its own. I plugged it in, it did its initial startup, and then told me the device was connected. Simple as that.

Audio compared to 2nd Generation Echo;

Highs are clearer.
Mids are more natural and better-defined.
Lows are deeper.
Overall volume is noticeably louder and sound quality is improved.
When paired with our other Echos, music and audio is in sync everywhere and this device stands out above the others in audio performance.

General Performance;

We have a quick network and I don’t notice any perceivable performance difference between this new Echo Plus and our regular 2nd Generation Echos. Everything seems to work as it should.

I bought this with the “free” Philips Hue bulb promotion. This bulb is our first Zigbee device and works very well with the Echo Plus. It is easily controlled by either the Echo Plus or the other Echos we have in the house. I’ll be keeping an eye out for deals on these bulbs in the future. Like our other Echos, it also has no problem controlling our Kasa Smart Plugs.


While $150 is a lot for a single speaker, for what I was looking for, this thing excels. If you like the 2nd Generation Echo but hoped it sounded a bit better, I would highly recommend this. Based on what I’ve read, if you were disappointed with the audio performance with the 1st Generation Echo Plus but want everything else it had to offer, consider giving this wonderful speaker a try.

P.S.: The internal ambient temperature sensor seems fairly accurate and nice to have included.

1-Star Review: 

I was quite excited that Amazon had caught up to Sonos and Google and finally allowed stereo pairing of speakers. It’s amazing how much better two properly spaced speakers can sound, even without a sub. Unfortunately, Amazon decided to release this product without full feature parity of it’s competitors.

As other reviews have mentioned, the stereo configuration ONLY works when streaming music from an online service. If you’re internet is out, or you want to take the speakers somewhere where no internet is available, you can only play from a single speaker at a time. That means local connection methods, like bluetooth and the 3.5mm aux in don’t play on a stereo pair (like they do with Google Home).

I am really hoping this is a software kink that is quickly being worked out, and if support is added I’ll update this review. For now, I’m quite disappointed that I purchased a stereo pair of speakers and sub when half the time I only hear sound out of ONE of the three devices.

Do yourself a favor and get a Google Home, Sonos, or if you don’t mind wires and want Alexa, get a Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 with an Echo Dot— much better stereo sound, lower price, and more functionality.

Echo Show 5


Score: 4.5 Stars
Reviews: 5000
5-Star Review: 

My rating and review is focused on primarily alarm clock usage, with only occasional use to play music. If you’re planning to use the Echo Show 5 for much more, this review may not be the most useful. If it’s an alarm clock you’re mostly interested in, read on…

I bought the Echo Spot when it first came out. I loved (and still love) it. It was (mostly) perfect: high quality build, alarm face to fit my personal taste and decor, voice controlled (no more fumbling in the dark to set or turn off an alarm). But its biggest downfall, for me, was the size of the digital numbers, which I couldn’t find a way to increase. My eyesight without glasses is walk-into-walls bad, so it was impossible to read from across the room and a challenge to read even from the bedside.

Enter the Echo Show 5. All the same features I use on the Spot, but with big, clear numbers and still small enough to work on the nightstand.

Here’s the breakdown, from my perspective:
Size: The Show, about the same height as the Spot but significantly wider, providing more screen space for a larger display. The Show is about the same size as my cell phone turned horizontally.
Build/materials quality: Show is good, but does not feel as solid as the Spot. Considering price difference (about $40 as of this writing), that’s fair.
Stability: Show wins this one. The Spot is cute, but because of its shape it sometimes tips when you push it with one hand into a different location on your nightstand. Show is very stable.
Screen quality: to my eyes (yes, with my glasses on), Spot is the clear winner. Sharper image.
Screen layout: Show works better. Content has a little more space so appears less crowded.
Speakers/sound: Show wins. Speakers go around the sides and back and provide a pretty good sound. (Of course loses to a “real” speaker, like my Bose SoundLink.)
Privacy: Show has a built-in camera cover slide. Wasn’t on the Spot (I bought a privacy sticky to cover the camera.)

The Spot is now in our second/guest bedroom and still a much-loved member of my Echo/Alexa family. The Show 5, while not as cute or made with as high quality materials, is my perfect alarm clock that occasionally plays me some music.

1-Star Review: 

Ugh. The constant large ads to “Try, Alexa [insert question or skill here]” that splash across the screen and cannot be turned off are annoying. Super annoying. Like return this annoying. There is no option to turn them off. You can only have *all of them play once then stop, but that means the content that you actually want regular updates of, like your stocks or news, scroll once and then never again. Oh, yeah, the photos of the product on this page? None of them show that “Try, Alexa” screen or card as they call it. So you have no idea that you will be constantly subjected to those screen filling ads all the time. This is not worth $90. It’s not worth $45. It’s an annoying ad machine. Oh and the screen is dark, low resolution so your photos look terrible, and there are only 2 video options (prime and nbc) but the software to select and watch them is terrible. This is a poorly conceived and executed product.

Netgear Orbi Voice


Score: 4.3 Stars
Reviews: 8075
5-Star Review: 

I mean I can’t think of a single negative aspect. Hence the 5 out of 5 stars. Set up is easier and faster than making a sandwich. And I’m a sandwich ninja. Certified. Anyway, so this thing is absolutely amazing! My router/modem is located in our basement where the kids sleep (no it’s not a dungeon, it’s finished with cool stuff like a ping pong table and peace on earth) and upstairs was not getting a good WiFi signal at all. Pretty much useless. Once I installed the Orbi, the clouds parted and I heard angels singing “Whyyyyyy Fiiiiiiiiii”. Life has returned to the upstairs area, the darkness has been lifted. I can now stream 1080 HD videos about food once again. (Sandwiches of course) – Thank you Orbi 1 Kenobi, you were my only hope.

1-Star Review: 

I purchased my Orbi system 4 months ago. The setup was easy and my system was up and running in minutes. It worked like a charm between January and the end of May 2017. Then, all of a sudden, the Orbi began disconnecting from the Internet (it showed the “magenta ring of death” at the top of the device) and there was no way to recover from this issue. Nothing has worked, despite multiple attempts and workarounds, including factory-resetting the device (twice), changing ports, changing internet cables, etc. When I factory-reset it, it worked fine for about 3 hours, but then it went back to the same issue. It wasn’t able to connect to the Internet (The Verizon router never stopped working). As several reviewers have already mentioned, this issue seems to be firmware-related, but Netgear hasn’t had the decency of notifying its customers about this problem or how to resolve it. Why do they make us register the product if they can’t at least give us a heads up about known problems with their product?

However, that is not even the worst part. The biggest problem is NETGEAR’s crummy technical support and return policies. Here’s what you will be dealing with if your Orbi fails after 90 days. This from their website:

1. You must submit a valid claim to NETGEAR with an assigned RMA number (that you obtain by contacting technical support). HOWEVER,
2. With your Orbi purchase, you only get 90 day free basic phone support. You must pay for technical support if the problem occurs after 90 days of your new purchase, and
3. You must pay for the shipping costs for returning the defective product to NETGEAR

So there you have it. A promising product with terrible technical support and warranty policies. Buy at your own risk.

Echo Spot

Echo Spot

Score: 4.4 Stars
Reviews: 10,555
5-Star Review: 

So far, so much love, with a tiny suggestion – hopefully the Amazon developers read these reviews.

Easy peesy set up – I was able to get it up and running and customized in less than 20 minutes – score!!!
Paired my bluetooth Thonet and Vander speakers (that also live with my bedroom TV) flawlessly. Figured out how to set recurring and different alarms for weekdays and weekends (after you set the ‘single alarm’ go to the alexa app under alarms and reminders – you have far more control through the app to easily change that single alarm into a recurring alarm with lots of options). Got a photo uploaded to make a custom clock face (used my photo cloud storage at Prime). Played some Prime music. Watched a little CNN. What isn’t to love???


It can’t be that hard to give us options on font size on the ‘personalized’ clock. Hey, Amazon developers, not all of us have perfect eyesight, especially at night when the eyeglasses end up on the night stand next to the Spot. Listen to the nearsighted of America, heck, the World, give us a bigger font!!!!!

As soon as Amazon addresses this ‘you gotta be kidding’ fix, I will be changing that 4 star review to a 5!!!

They listened!!!
There is now a much bigger font, very similar to what I photoshopped in my ‘wish’ photo, and it can turn red at night. A++ and I changed my rating to five stars. I really like this little spot, we have been buying more Alexa compatible items and our ‘smart home’ is really coming together.

And for all of my ‘commentors’ who suggested just asking Alexa what time it is, I would rather not wake up my guy in the middle of the night.

1-Star Review: 

This thing just plain sucks. A new update brought ANOTHER annoying feature other than “things to try”. I just uploaded an image of a new interface when you ask Alexa to dim the lights, bedroom off, kitehen on etc…it’s an image of a lamp with a slide toggle that you can touch to increase or decrease the brightness. WHY?! When I’m asking Alexa to dim the bedroom to 50% I don’t need to touch the screen. When I say “bedroom off” the lights go off but the Alexa is still bright screen with this hideous interface on the screen for 10 seconds until it goes away then it auto adjusts. THIS IS RIDICILOUS. I don’t want this device anymore. It’s so painful and unbearable to use.

Dealbreaker is the THINGS TO TRY. Please remove this. I don’t want to see this. I own several echo items. I know what to try. At least give an option to toggle this on or off. Everytime I ask for something like “turn the lights off” it then starts the slides with things to try. I don’t want this. I know I can set to show things to try only once after a request but this seems so silly that I cannot turn it off completely.

Echo (2nd Gen)


Score: 4.5 Stars
Reviews: 49,514
5-Star Review: 

I got some smart plugs so that I could turn on inside lights if we come home after dark with the app on my phone.
My 82 y.o. Dad lives with me & has a hard time walking & he’s also losing his ability to see at all in the dark, because of Macular Degeneration. So the last thing I need is him tripping over something in the dark, trying to turn lights on!!
I have an Echo & Dot in my room, which I mostly use to stream music with my Amazon Music Unlimited.
I was controlling even his bedroom light & the hallway light with the app on my phone as well as my Echo.
So I bought two more Dots during prime day sale.
It’s been a game changer!! My Dad struggled, even with the app on his phone to control the lights. Now that we have a Dot in his bedroom & an Echo & Dot in the living room, he’s very easily learned how to ask Alexa to turn on the hallway light, his bedroom light when he’s going to bed!! NO MORE STUMBLING AROUND IN THE DARK or trying to remember where he put his flashlight!!
Since the Echo Dots all sync together, once he gets to his bedroom, he tells Alexa to turn off the living room light & the hallway light when he gets to his bedroom!! This little device is a SAVING GRACE, not only for my Dad, but for me!! I don’t have him calling me to “Show me again how to turn the lights on/off” with his phone app!!
It’s like having someone else here that helps me take care of my Dad!!
I made a list of the commands for the lights, etc & hung one on his night stand & put the other beside his chair in the living room!!
He’s also exploring, BY HIMSELF, different commands for Alexa. I’ve heard him ask her about the weather, baseball scores, etc. THIS LITTLE ITEM IS A TRUE GEM FOR SENIORS!! I love mine just as much & the quality of the sound thru the Echo is AMAZING for listening to music. I’m VERY PICKY about sound quality!! I have Bose speakers hooked up to my TV & have Bose ear buds as well. The quality of the sound from the Echo is just as good as Bose speakers!!

1-Star Review: 

Bought one and tried echo 2nd gen and was impressed by the sound quality (it was close to “surround sound” quality) so I bought 4 more echo 2nd gen and everyone in my household was happy with all of ’em. After 4 months past, I noticed the sound is not quite awesome as it was (now, it sounded like “mono”) seems like the bass is not sync, something about the sound is off. Seems like Amazon pushed out an update and downgraded the sound quality. It still plays music at sub-par quality but that’s not what I paid for! Amazon, please maintain the quality of your products.

[UPDATE:] 8/15/2018
Amazon’s review team has informed me that they’ve added an equalizer feature….that’s fantastic!
Now I have to adjust the bass, midrange and treble myself to try and get the best sound quality….great!
I know some people has requested this feature and Amazon is awesome for listening and responding to customers. When I buy a smart gadget I expect to get rid off some of the guess work but It’s also good to have an override switch to everything. People nowadays likes plug-n-play, set-n-forget but also wants to tinker to get to that sweet spot, I know! people are complicated but so as music. And did I mention I have 5 of these? so that means I have to tinker on each one? and tinker again for every music being played?

PROPOSED SOLUTION (for your developers):
Make the echo smart enough to determine (by itself) the best sound quality for the music being played and this will be known as the auto sound feature which is shipped by default – this will cater to mostly everyone. And the equalizer will be known as the manual sound feature that will cater the rest.

Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

Echo Dot Gen 3

Score: 4.6 Stars
Reviews: 57,342
5-Star Review: 

Sound quality is the best I’ve heard on a speaker of this size!!! Definitely worth paying a little extra for this one over the 2nd generation model. I’m not going to discuss the functionality as there’s tons of info already out there. One important note: If you set up the Alexa app on your phone, IT WILL IMPORT ALL OF YOUR PHONE CONTACTS. I didn’t think I gave it permission to do so but Alexa did indeed import my contacts! You may have read stories how, WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE, Alexa can record what’s being said in your home and then send it to ANY or ALL of those contacts! Yikes! And, I won’t want any of my kids to accidentally send messages to or call people on my contact list. So, if you want to keep your contacts from Alexa and prevent that from happening here’s how I did it:

Before installiing the Alexa app on your phone, export your contacts to a file and save it for later. Then, go back to the phone and delete those contacts (don’t worry, you’ll import them back in later). Now, install the Alexa app on your phone and go through the set up process. At some point, you’ll have the option to allow Alexa to automatically import any additions to your contacts. Please “disable” that option. After you’re done with the installation, you’ll notice there are no contacts in your Alexa app! Now, you can import your contacts back into your phonebook using the file that you initially created and you’re good to go!

If you already installed the app but want to delete your contacts from Alexa, it’s not too late. Simply export your phone contacts to a file and save for later. Then, delete the contacts from your phone. Now, open the Alexa app and click “Contacts.” On the Contacts page, click on “Import Contacts” and enable it by moving the button to the right side. This will cause Alexa to replace your existing contacts with the now empty phonebook. After a few minutes, your Alexa contacts will be gone. Go back and disable “Import Contacts” to prevent Alexa from importing them in the future. You can now import the contact file that you created back into your phone.

Of course there may be some contacts you do want to use with Alexa. I simply added them manually by clicking “Add Contact.”

I hope this info is helpful as I wasn’t able to find an easy way to manage Alexa contacts.

1-Star Review: 

I’m forced to use the online Alexa app because I don’t own any Apple or Android device and my Windows 10 PC doesn’t have the app. I’ll list just a few of the problems I’ve had:

1) It often fails to understand what I say. 2) It often fails to respond to my voice at all, though it’s only two or three feet away. It responds to dead silence just as often as to my voice commands. 3) Many commands are not executed. For example, it will not make adjustments to the audio equalizer; it will not give my daily briefing items; it will not play stations saved to my iHeart favorites. 4) There’s no product support. I’ve sent a number of email requests to support and received no response. 5) I had a bunch of recurring reminders set up, and they worked for a couple of days. Suddenly they all vanished. These were important work-related reminders. Of course, there’s no way to back them up or save them. So, they’re simply gone. 6) The audio quality is poor and sounds muffled no matter what I do. Speech is sometimes unintelligible. 7) Volume is unstable. During some music it will constantly decrease and I have to keep turning it up. Then when an announcer comes on, it’s loud enough to take the paint off the walls.

If I’d paid significant money, I would be returning it. For 99 cents, I can’t be bothered. Maybe they will improve it in the future, but for now it serves no purpose; there’s nothing it can do reliably. So I put it back in the box and stored it away.



Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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