Over the past few years, with the convergence of music streaming services and smart-home technology, we've seen a new focus on speaker systems for the home: Sonos, for one, has partnered with everyone from Amazon to IKEA (which rolled out speakers disguised as lamps and shelves last year). Now, just as most of us are likely playing more music than ever at home, Google has come out with its own answer to the high-quality smart speaker: the Nest Audio. So, how does it compete?
Since this is House Beautiful after all, we're going to start with looks. And luckily for Google, that's where the Nest Audio really stands apart from its competitors. Unlike other speaker options that tend to come in clunkier casings with black or white color options if any, the Nest Audio prioritizes design. The speaker is sleek, without looking futuristic, and comes in five colors that are actually pretty. My personal favorite is Sand, which is actually a pretty blush (what can I say? It matches my walls), but I also love the light green Sage and blue Sky; minimalists will likely opt for Charcoal or Chalk.
Now, for the sound. For avid Google users, the Nest Audio will be a welcome upgrade from the smaller speakers on the Google Home/Google Hub. Music is loud and clear. The best part, though? You can pair two for a surround-sound effect, essentially turning your home into a listening room (or at-home nightclub, depending on your mood). You can control the speaker via voice, through the app, or by tapping on the top of the speaker itself.
Because it's attached to Google, the smart home functions of the speaker are pretty great—essentially, it can do anything your Google Assistant can. That means it can also pair with secondary smart home devices like lightbulbs, cameras, and more, as well as all your music streaming services. Does your TV now sound tinny compared to better speakers on the market? You can also pair the Nest Audio with a Chromecast to upgrade sound when you're watching TV.
One concern with all smart home devices is privacy. Like most smart assistants, the Nest Audio works best the more it can listen and interact with you. That said, if you don't want to share too much, you do have the option to turn the microphone to off, and control the speaker through the top buttons or via the app (where you can also control privacy settings).
The Nest Audio retails for $99 which, compared to other similar speakers on the market, is downright fair. It's not the most expensive option, but of course it's also not cheap, per se—though with all the functionality it has and the quality of sound, it shouldn't be! Bottom line? If you're a real music lover and aesthetically-minded when it comes to your tech, this might be the option for you.
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