Best Black Friday Deals on Bluetooth and Smart Speakers
Check out these great offers on top-rated models from Amazon, Google, JBL, and more
When you give a speaker to a certain someone on your holiday shopping list, you’re not just giving a device, you’re giving the gift of their favorite music. Or podcasts. And when you gift a smart speaker, you’re also helping the gift-getter do things like search hands-free for recipe instructions in the kitchen and control smart lights and door locks throughout the home.
And because this holiday shopping season is somewhat different from those in years past—given worldwide chip shortages and concerns about shipping delays—retailers like Best Buy and Target are offering price-match guarantees, so you can pounce on deals without fear of missing out on steeper discounts later in the month.
Just be sure to hold on to your receipts!
Also note that some sale items from Kohl’s include Kohl’s Cash, which can be used toward holiday shopping for other items.
Go to Consumer Reports’ Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.
That’s a nice price. And the Dot’s smart speaker functionality rates right up there with Amazon’s best options, because the processing of Alexa voice commands is done on the company’s cloud-based servers. But the model’s sound leaves a lot to be desired. This is not a bad choice, though, as a) a stocking stuffer b) a speaker for podcasts and other less-than-demanding content or c) a way to add smart speaker functionality to a higher-quality Bluetooth speaker.
CR’s test results: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen.)
Not long ago Amazon’s Echo speakers were smart, but they weren’t much good at doing what speakers do: actually playing music. The newest Echo model addresses that complaint, offering improved sound with strong but slightly boomy bass, and enough volume to fill a medium-sized room. It also sports a Zigbee smart home hub that allows it to link directly to many Zigbee-compatible devices—think Philips Hue smart bulbs, some Yale smart locks, and certain Honeywell thermostats—without requiring an app. At the regular price, it’s a solid value, but at 40 percent off, it’s definitely worth a look—and you can find it for a full 50 percent off at Home Depot.
CR’s test results: Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
The Show 5 is Amazon’s smallest smart screen, which makes it flexible in terms of where and how you position it. But our testers report that the sound is kind of unpleasant: Grainy, hazy, smeared, and sizzly are some of the terms they use to describe it. So unless you’re very tight on money or space, you may want to spring for the larger and better-sounding Show 8.
CR’s test results: Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd gen.)
The previous generation Echo Show 8 has an 8-inch touch screen (ideal for displaying online recipes) and responds to voice commands (useful when you’ve got messy hands). The device’s footprint is also significantly smaller than that of the Show 10, which needs a beach-ball-sized space on a countertop to provide clearance for a rotating screen. As with many smart speakers, though, the Show 8’s sound quality is somewhat lacking according to our testers, who note the model’s strident high frequencies. The most significant feature found on the newer second-gen Show 8 is the camera’s ability to “follow” you around the room on a video call, a benefit that’s likely not worth the price difference.
This smart speaker has a sleep tracking feature that uses a sensor described as a “miniature radar” to monitor your activity while you snooze. As for the sound quality, our testers were less than impressed. If you’re just looking for a device to deliver news and weather reports in the a.m., though, this is a nice offer. At Kohl’s, the deal includes $15 in Kohl’s Cash.
CR’s test results: Google Nest Hub (2nd gen.)
The Nest Mini is the least-expensive way to get Google Assistant into your life. But the sound quality is marginal at best, neither loud nor particularly clear. The Nest Mini is, however, a solid option if you want to add smart speaker functionality to another speaker in your home.
CR’s test results: Google Nest Mini (2nd gen.)
Think of the Charge 4 as the smaller sibling of JBL’s Xtreme 2; its light weight and more modest dimensions make it a great choice if you’re looking for a speaker that travels with you. It’s easy to use, has admirable sound quality, and delivers enough volume for a medium-sized room. It also features an internal power bank to charge other devices, and JBL says it’s water-resistant to 1 meter, a claim that CR didn’t test. Note that the deal price varies by color.
CR’s test results: JBL Charge 4 Wireless & Bluetooth Speaker
If you’re looking for a versatile smart speaker with fine sound, the Home Speaker 300 is worth a look. It allows you to choose between Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, and when it comes to sound quality, the Speaker 300 doesn’t give away much–just a bit of bass and volume– to its larger and more expensive sibling, the Home Speaker 500.. Bose products rarely go on sale so $60 off makes this a solid value.
CR’s test results: Bose Home Speaker 300