The Amazon Echo (second generation) is the best value-for-money voice-assisted speaker option for Xbox One, providing solid audio playback, with incredible voice recognition accuracy.
Who should buy this
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If you want to claw back some of that 2013 Kinect experience, the flagship Amazon Echo is your best bet. It provides excellent sound for music playback while providing truly impressive directional voice recognition for all of your Xbox voice commands.
Is it a good time to buy the Echo?
While the Echo line is probably due for a refresh soon, it's unlikely that Amazon will figure out a way to include any new critical functionality while retaining this sweet price point. I think it's a good time to buy.
A great companion for any gamer
While this functionality is only available to Xbox Insiders right now, the ability to control your Xbox One with voice was one of the console's headline features back in 2013, only for it to get left by the wayside with the death of Microsoft's own Kinect microphone array. Thankfully, voice commands are back on the menu with help from Amazon's Alexa, and while Microsoft's own Cortana can also get the job done, the sheer amount of integrations and additional functionality enjoyed by Alexa makes Cortana simply impossible to recommend.
I have been an Amazon Echo user for some time now. Even without Xbox integration, Alexa has become part of my daily routine. Simple things like "Alexa, what time is it?" while getting ready in the morning are hugely helpful. Setting up reminders, alarms, and asking for the latest weather report is quick and easy with Alexa, thanks to her impeccably accurate microphone array. A soft light ring also points in your direction when she is listening to you.
Alexa is the industry-leader when it comes to connected home devices, with a large range of connected lights, thermostats, and other IoT products deeply integrated into her systems. With Xbox, Alexa can now do even more.
The Amazon Echo will be able to perform tasks not just for your Xbox, but also your TV, thanks to the Xbox One S and X's built-in IR-blaster. You'll be able to turn off your set, crank up the volume, and even browse TV channels using the console's HDMI pass-through. You'll be able to search for Netflix shows, see if friends are online, and boot up games in an instant, even if your console is turned off.
The Echo is a great all-around option for those getting on the smart home train and the perfect pal for any Xbox gamer.
Alternatives to the Amazon Echo (2nd Gen)
The Echo is great, but it might not be for everyone, particularly those just looking for voice commands. So let's have a look at some of the alternatives.
Amazon Echo Dot
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The smaller, cheaper Amazon Echo Dot is a great option for those who are more interested in just using voice commands on their Xbox One. The Echo Dot can still emit some solid sound of its own and retains the voice recognition accuracy of its pricier brethren, but it won't have the richness or audio quality of a more expensive speaker (though the latest update has made big gains here). The Echo Dot is, as its name suggests, remarkably tiny. With three color options, the Echo Dot will disappear into your Xbox gaming center and wait patiently for your commands.
Google Home Mini
Recently Microsoft unveiled Google Assistant support for Xbox One voice commands, bringing Google's smart home automation platform into the fold. While it's only available in beta testing as of writing, it shouldn't be long until it fully rolls out to the public.
The Sonos One is widely-regarded as the most powerful Alexa-integrated speaker, with two large audio drivers and Sonos's signature quality. You can also use the Sonos One as a hub to control other connected Sonos speakers, blanketing your home in music and on-demand voice assistance. The Sonos One is the priciest option on this list, but if you want a speaker that can integrate your Xbox and also provide great music, this is your best bet.
While I'd love to live in a world where Cortana was supported in more places, Microsoft may have completely missed the boat. Thankfully, the company is forward-thinking enough to allow Amazon to pick up the slack. For most users, Alexa-powered speakers are by far the best bet.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!