Voice Assistant Buyer’s Guide
332 views | March 23, 2020

Voice Assistant Device
Complete Buyer’s Guide

Find out more about Voice Assistant features available, some of the products on the market today and what to look for when making a buying decision.

As technology evolves, humans adapt to take advantage of the increased convenience. Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa are some of the most popular digital voice assistants that we have at our disposal today.

If you're considering which voice assistant platform works best, then it's time for an in-depth look at voice assistants. This guide will explain different voice assistant options and hopefully help in the decision process.

What Does A Voice Assistant Do?

Every smart speaker is awakened with a voice command, such as "Hey, Google" for Google, "Alexa" for Alexa and "Siri" for Siri. A voice assistant system can be connected wirelessly to any compatible smart home device via an existing Wi-Fi network.

This type of artificial intelligence technology is controlled through voice commands and each of these voice assistants can be used to get real-time updates on news, weather, sports scores, traffic and more. The device can be placed anywhere there's a need for voice command assistance.

Smart Home Management

Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri can control almost any smart device. In fact, in Google and Alexa apps and with Siri's new shortcut feature, it's possible to set up multiple device control.

All three smart assistants can support most smart home device brands, with a few exceptions. More recent smart home devices are designed to be operated without a hub and connect through Wi-Fi and work with Google Assistant and Alexa.

In order to use Siri as a smart home platform, it's vital that all smart home devices are HomeKit-compatible, and an iPad, HomePod or Apple TV are utilized as a central hub. The hub allows users to create groups and routines for the smart devices and is controlled and managed remotely, but that's only possible from an iOS device.

Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri can also control a compatible smart TV, like Android TV or Chromecast for Google Assistant, Amazon Fire TV for Alexa and Apple TV for Siri.

What Are The Most Important Features?

Voice assistants have incredible features but not many users know about them or what to do with them. This list may offer a bit more understanding.

General Knowledge

Humans are inquisitive; whether wanting to know the release date of a movie or how to bake a certain dish, the best voice assistants can provide the answer.

The more reliable and advanced the technology, the more questions it'll be able to recognize and answer. Google Assistant is known to provide quality responses with straightforward answers, even when presented with complex questions.

The Google Nest Home Mini is one of the best home voice assistants for someone who is looking for an affordable smart speaker.*

* FirstEnergy Home's review of this product is solely opinion. FirstEnergy Home did not receive compensation for the review. FirstEnergy Home, and any FirstEnergy affiliates, are not affiliated with the manufacturer of the product, nor is there any endorsement or sponsorship between the product manufacturer of the product and FirstEnergy Home or any of its affiliates.

Household Tasks & Chores

Smart voice assistants can also complete a vast array of tasks. This is especially useful for homes with several smart home devices, such as smart locks, smart doorbells, smart lights, and smart thermostats, among others.

Integrate the existing smart home devices with the voice assistant, and then control those devices with voice commands instead of manual input. Commands like "turn the kitchen lights off," "set the thermostat to 72", and "lock all the doors" are actions that are conveniently accessed from a voice assistant.

Voice assistants can also set timers for cooking and alarms for waking up. No matter what the request is, the best voice assistant should have no issue completing the task.


A voice assistant can come in handy when it comes to entertaining the kids. Even a 2-year-old can learn to say "Hey, Google" and request a song. Kids love to ask questions and unlike parents, voice assistants never get tired of answering.

In fact, it's not just children; adults need entertainment occasionally as well. Pull up Netflix on the smart TV with a voice command and browse or find a specific title with another voice command.

Sound and Speaker Quality

The most important feature to look for when purchasing a smart voice assistant might besound and speaker quality. Voice devices can be an amazing personal DJ – providing instant access to an infinite music catalog.

For instance, just say "Hey, Google, play," and mention the song title and the Google Home Smart Assistant Speaker can play that music.

Voice assistants can also tune into any call sign around the globe. For example, with a Google Smart Speaker, simply say "Hey, Google. Play Maine Public Radio."

Lastly, if an individual is into audiobooks, a voice assistant can narrate the book. Also, consider placing voice assistant devices around the house to take full advantage of its features.

Display Options

Some may prefer a device that has a screen display. The Google Nest Hub Max Smart Display and Google Nest Hub Digital Assistant smart display screens are good choices for getting a voice assistant's full video display experience.

For instance, a smart display screen can also act as a digital clock or digital photo album. It can make video calls and be used to watch a smart security camera. Use it in the kitchen to watch an instructional video on YouTube for baking a casserole. And of course, it still performs the same functions as a regular voice assistant.

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Which Voice Assistant Should I Choose?

The answer to this question comes down to individual needs. Will it be used only for music or will it be integrated with other smart home devices? It's important first to understand how it will be utilized before finding the best model that fits that particular need.

Voice assistant technology evolves with every passing day, so it's equally important to learn about any new features and functions which could sway any decision. Also, voice assistants include software that needs to be continuously updated.

Future of Voice Assistants

Smart voice assistants and the technology they come with are everywhere. In smartphones and smart devices, and even unsuspecting places, but do they affect privacy?

Understandably, a voice assistant's reliance on recording and voice recognition technology can cause privacy issues and this may lead to government regulations. But for now there are no laws affecting the technology, so the solution is to mute and perhaps delete recordings stored in the voice assistant's setting from time to time.

According to a study conducted by Voicebot, around 20% of U.S. adults now own some type of smart speaker2. As this figure continues to grow, privacy issues will only intensify, and it is up to the consumer to understand the functions of the product.

© 2021 FirstEnergy Home

1 Exponential Learning. VIRTUAL HOME ASSISTANTS AND THE LAWS AND REGULATIONS STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP WITH THE TIMES. Retrieved from https://www.ie.edu/exponential-learning/blog/business/virtual-home-assistants-laws-regulations-struggling-keep-times/
2 Voicebot.ai. New Voicebot Report Says Nearly 20% of U.S. Adults Have Smart Speakers. Retrieved from https://voicebot.ai/2018/03/07/new-voicebot-report-says-nearly-20-u-s-adults-smart-speakers/