Differences Between Bluetooth Speakers and Smart Speakers

Speakers are devices designed to produce sound. They connect to phones, tablets, computers or other media devices and allow users to listen to audio tracks like music and podcasts or watch videos with sound. There are different types of speakers suited for different purposes. Two common types are Bluetooth speakers and smart speakers. While both allow wireless streaming from a device, there are key differences between these speaker models.

Overview of Bluetooth Speakers

A Bluetooth speaker is a portable speaker that connects wirelessly to devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops via Bluetooth technology. The speaker has a built-in Bluetooth receiver that pairs with the Bluetooth transmitter in the media device. Once paired, the speaker can receive and play audio streamed wirelessly from the device from up to 30 feet away.

Bluetooth speakers are designed for mobility and convenience. They are compact and lightweight, usually ranging from under 1 pound up to around 5 pounds. Popular brands like JBL, Bose, Sony and Ultimate Ears make Bluetooth speakers built for travel with protective casing and long battery life. Most Bluetooth speakers have rechargeable batteries that last 10-24 hours on a single charge.

Since Bluetooth speakers rely on the media device for playback control and metadata like song titles, they have minimal controls and display readouts. Basic Bluetooth speakers may just have buttons for power, volume, play/pause, pairing and sometimes track skip. More advanced models add features like speakerphone for taking calls, voice assistants like Siri or Google Assistant, and display readouts for info like battery life. Overall, Bluetooth speakers prioritize portability and wireless convenience over advanced features.

Overview of Smart Speakers

A smart speaker is a stationary speaker powered by a voice-based artificial intelligence virtual assistant. Popular virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri are integrated into smart speakers produced by Amazon, Google and Apple respectively. The virtual assistant can understand voice commands, answer questions, play media and control smart home devices.

Since smart speakers are not designed for portability, they come in larger form factors optimized for room-filling audio performance. Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home have powerful multi-driver speaker systems and advanced audio processing. They utilize WiFi instead of Bluetooth for higher bandwidth wireless connectivity. Some models also have auxiliary ports for wired connections.

The virtual assistant is the brains of the smart speaker. Users interact with the assistant via voice commands to request information, play media and more. Smart speakers have array microphones to accurately capture voice input even in noisy environments. The assistant can provide hands-free control of music playback, news/weather updates, timers/alarms, calendars, shopping lists and compatible smart home devices. Advanced models even support video calling.

Most smart speakers have LED indicators and touch controls for basic functions like volume. Some models have LCD displays for supplementary visual output like weather forecasts and song lyrics. Overall, smart speakers prioritize robust voice interaction, room-filling audio and smart home control over portability.

Key Differences

The main differences between Bluetooth speakers and smart speakers include:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth speakers use Bluetooth wireless technology while smart speakers use WiFi. Bluetooth has shorter range while WiFi provides wider coverage.
  • Portability – Bluetooth speakers are compact and lightweight for portability. Smart speakers are larger for better audio and meant to be stationary.
  • Audio Quality – Smart speakers tend to offer superior audio performance with more advanced components and audio processing.
  • Controls – Bluetooth speakers have basic buttons for power, volume and playback. Smart speakers rely more heavily on voice commands and smart assistants.
  • Extra Features – Smart speakers provide intelligent voice assistants, smart home control, information search and third party integrations. Bluetooth speakers offer simpler functionality.
  • Power Source – Bluetooth speakers have rechargeable batteries while smart speakers plug into wall outlets.
  • Setup – Bluetooth speakers just need pairing while smart speakers require WiFi network connection.
  • Price – Basic Bluetooth speakers cost $15-$150 while smart speakers run from $50-$350 with advanced models costing even more.

Which to Choose

When choosing between a Bluetooth speaker and smart speaker, consider where and how you want to use it. Portable Bluetooth speakers are ideal for travel, outdoor use and carrying around the home. Stationary smart speakers work better as fixed points for room audio and smart home hubs.

Also weigh audio quality needs and desired features. If you just need basic wireless streaming, compact Bluetooth speakers get the job done. For advanced voice assistance, hands-free information access and smart integrations, smart speakers are the better choice. However, smart speaker audio may not match up to audiophile-level Bluetooth speakers.

Look at costs too, balanced against each model’s pros and cons. For many users, having one smart speaker and one portable Bluetooth speaker covers both bases. With a $150 budget, the Amazon Echo Dot and Anker SoundCore Bluetooth speaker make a great combo. Just be sure to factor in the audio performance, connectivity, portability and functionality you need.

In summary, Bluetooth speakers provide wireless streaming of audio content from media devices in a compact, take-anywhere design. Smart speakers utilize voice-based artificial intelligence for hands-free information access, media playback control, smart integrations and excellent room audio. Considering use cases, features and costs enables picking the right speaker or pairing both models to enjoy music anywhere at home or on the go.