6 Reasons Why You Should Invest in a Smart Video Speaker

Amazon Alexa Show8 and Google Home Hub

6 Reasons Why You Should Invest in a Smart Video Speaker

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

There has never been a more important time to encourage access and inclusion for communication services. Even before covid-19 this was an issue recognised by the telecommunications industry and in particular the UK regulator Ofcom, who regularly monitor take up of services.

It’s important that people are not disadvantaged or put off trying digital technologies, due to finances or technical ability.  In our current situation where physical contact is limited they offer a great way to boost wellbeing and make us feel more connected to loved ones.

Many people struggle to see the additional benefits of a smart speaker with video capability over a handheld tablet device or even just a basic smart phone.  They all offer a means of visual communication and entertainment.  But there are some important differences.

This blog article outlines the 6 reasons why you should consider investing in a smart speaker with video capability.  Plus some additional options to consider when selecting your hardware.

It provides insight into decision making factors such as cost, screen size, ease of use, and interoperability.

Quick Takeaways:

  • The way that we communicate is changing.
  • Voice assistants are an affordable way to communicate with others inside and outside the home.
  • If you’re looking for help getting started check out our help guides and tutorials.

About Our Blog

We live in an ageing society. But what does that really mean?

In the next 20 years the balance of young and old will shift to the point where there will be one elderly person for every two people of working age.  The challenge this presents is two-fold, a reduction in family members able to provide support and a smaller pool of professional carers.

TL Tech is a Smart Homes Solutions provider with a difference.  We help people get the best out of smart home technologies and create unique home environments to meet their needs and budget.  Our vision is to “create a home that cares for you as you age”.

Smart home technologies have the power to transform lives, especially for the vulnerable in our society.  This blog series will be looking to showcase the opportunities, find out more about the people working in this field and how we can create a world “where smart meets kind”.

The Way We Communicate is Changing

Landline telephone calls have declined over the last decade with the majority of calls placed on mobile devices and growing use of alternative communication methods such as digital messaging services (like WhatsApp) and video conferencing (such as Skype and Zoom).  Just take a look at the latest Ofcom Telecommunications Market Data Update.

UK landlines generated 9.5 billion minutes of outgoing calls in Q3 2019, down by 100 billion minutes (1.0%) from Q2 and 1.7 billion minutes (15.3%) from Q3 2018.
There were 26.8 million UK fixed broadband connections at the end of Q3 2019, a year-on-year increase of 350k (1.3%).
The number of outgoing mobile voice calls minutes was 39.6 billion in Q3 2019, down 0.2 billion (0.6%) from a year previously.
Mobile data usage continued to increase rapidly, up 245PB (38.3%) year-on-year.

What is surprising to see is the mobile data usage. A petabyte is 10 to the power of 15 bytes.  That is a lot of data!  It will be interesting to see the data from this year and how much covid-19 influences the trends.

Six Reasons

The two main players in the video voice assistant device market are Amazon and Google. In this blog we will consider the Amazon Alexa Show 8 and the Google Nest Home Hub Max devices. There are some important considerations when weighing up whether to invest in a voice assistant over using a mobile phone of tablet device.  We discuss the top 6 reasons below.

1.     Screen Size

The largest iPhone has a diagonal display of 6.5 inches.  You can get larger screens on other brands such as Samsung, whose Galaxy Note 10+ has a 6.8 inch display.

The Alexa Show 8 has a screen size of 8 inches, hence the name 8, there is also a smaller 5-inch model.  The Google Home Hub Max has a screen size of 10 inches.

Personally I find the larger smart phones really difficult and heavy to hold, but I do have small hands.

The other option is a handheld tablet device.  Something like the Samsung Tab A (with a screen size of 10.1 inches) or the Kindle Fire HD 8 (with a screen size of 8 inches) are good devices.

So if you were looking at either a smart phone or a tablet as an option, I think a docking station would be a good addition for ease of use so you don’t need to hold it.

Both the Google Nest Home Hub Max and the Alexa Show 8 have really decent screen sizes that allow plenty of space for the user interface to not be too cluttered.

2.     User Interface

The primary advantage of both the Amazon and Google devices is that they are easy to navigate.  Calls can be controlled hands free by your voice or you can use the touch screen.  The system can be set up so that the person receiving the call doesn’t need to do anything to answer the call or hang-up, by using the Drop-in functionality.

If you are considering something like the Amazon Kindle Fire, note that this can be put into “Show mode”, simplifying the user interface and enabling the voice control functionality.  When combined with a docking station, for some people this can give the get the best of both worlds.

3.     Cost

Smart phone handsets are expensive.  The new “affordable” iPhone SE starts at £419, or you can pay £10.99/month.  A decent second hand smart phone will cost you in the region of £150-200.

The Amazon Alexa Show 8 is £119.99 and the Google Nest Home Hub Max is £219.

A basic tablet device is likely to be similarly priced to the voice assistants.  The Samsung Tab A that I mentioned earlier is £199, while the Amazon Kindle Fire HD8 is £99.99.

It’s important to think about additional costs. Like will you want a screen protector and/or case to protect your phone/tablet?  The power cable supplied with the video voice assistant speaker can be a little short depending on where you want to position it, so you might want to consider buying a longer cable or power extension.

4.     Misplaced Devices

The amount of times we hear of people hunting for their lost phone, ringing it or using a device finding app to locate it.

A smart voice assistant speaker is unlikely to be lost due to its size and the fact it is plugged in!

5.     Power Supply

And as it’s plugged in, it won’t run low on power or cut out part way through a call.  Some second hand smart phones can be particularly troublesome when it comes to battery life.

6.     Added Functionality & Interoperability

Smart video voice assistants have loads of added functions, such as music, games, news, weather, photos, reminders, shopping lists, to do lists, recipes and even more customised ones.

The voice assistant can integrate with smart home devices to allow things like your lighting and heating to be remote controlled by voice.

You can also use your phone to be able to control smart home devices via an app, but you’ll quite quickly find your screen cluttered up with different apps all with slightly different user interfaces that you need to go in and out of. The voice assistant interface is much slicker and more intuitive to navigate.

In Conclusion

Digital communication is transforming the way that we live and opened up new ways to interact.  The key thing that voice assistants will deliver is a natural and conversational way to interface with the technology in our open.  It opens up opportunities to support our wellbeing, both physical and mental. 

While there is so much still to develop and discover with voice technology, now is a great time to invest and start seeing the benefits of the hands free functionality that it offers.

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Note: Prices correct at the time of publishing.

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