Home Automation

The Best Amazon Echo Alternatives – Can Anyone Compete?

(Last Updated On: January 28, 2017)

The Amazon Echo became a hugely popular after it hit the market in 2015.

With a rating of 4.4/5 stars and over 35,000 reviews, it’s obvious that Amazon delivered on their promises. While the Echo is very reasonably priced (see the current pricing here), some people may find that the Echo doesn’t do exactly what they need or they are looking for a less expensive alternative.

To be clear, AllHomeRobotics is a big fan of the Echo (read my full review of it here), but there are certain cases where it might not be ideal.

Even though it’s difficult to find a product that exactly copies everything the Echo can do, there are definitely some products that are equally impressive in their own way. Here are 3 of the best alternatives.

First Option: Athom Homey

If you love the ability the Echo’s ability to control your home, the Athom Homey would be a top alternative for your needs. The Homey was developed to give you completely control over your house just by voice or via app. It eliminates the need to have remote controls cluttering your coffee table or having to get up from a comfortable position on the couch to change the music. 

 

Details & Features:

  • Attractive 4.3″ sphere design fits well into majority of home decor styles
  • Set up for Plug & Play – just plug in the device and start
  • Offers high tuned voice control
  • Multilingual microphones recognize major languages like English, German, Spanish, French and more
  • Mobile app for further control is available on iOS and Android
  • Uses 8 different types of wireless tech – Bluetooth 4.0, Wifi, Infrared, Zigbee, Zwave, 433.92 MHz, NFC and nRF210+
  • Compatible with a 20,000+ different devices

Similarly to Echo’s Alexa, the Homey is also voice controlled which is always a very cool experience. It recognizes most major languages and what you can’t control by voice, you can control with the app.

The Homey is compatible with an incredible 20k+ different devices. These devices include pretty much anything you can think of, such as:

  • Lights
  • Thermostat
  • Television
  • Smart appliances
  • DVD players

Aside from working with smart appliances, the Homey also can read your emails, messages, relay weather forecasts and more. Don’t forget that you can also control other tech like Spotify, Gmail and Logitech.

There is only one downside to the Athom Homey, and that is it only controls devices in one room. Many people choose to keep their Homey in the living room since most time is spent there, but if you want complete control in other rooms like your bedroom or kitchen, you’ll need to purchase additional spheres.

All in all, the Homey is a great way for people to get complete control over one room and a multitude of devices simply through voice or the app. The app dashboard is easy to get used to and allows you to monitor the specs of the room, like temperature, from wherever you are. Imagine you’re on the way home from work and need dinner ready ASAP, and all you have to do is preheat your over from the app. That is just one small way the Homey can simplify your life.

Option #2: Sonos Play:1

One of the best features of the Echo is having complete control over music. A surprising number of people end up buying the Echo for it’s ability to access all of your music easily and play it without having to get onto your computer. If you are a music lover whose main reason for wanting the Echo is to be surrounded by your favorite tunes, The Sonos Play:1 is an alternative you’ll definitely want to consider.

Details & Features:

  • Available in black or white and resembles a speaker in design
  • Has two custom drivers, each with their own class-D amplifier
  • Comes with Sonos’ Trueplay tuning
  • Control all of your music, including streaming platforms, from your phone or tablet
  • Multiple Play:1 devices can be synced via wifi for seamless music throughout your house
  • Audio system includes a tweeter and mid woofer
  • Create a better sound by pairing two Play:1s together for a true surround sound experience

Some of the streaming services compatible with the Play:1 include:

  • Spotify
  • SoundCloud
  • Pandora
  • Amazon Music
  • SiriusXM
  • iHeartRadio
  • Deezer

Any music lover will become an instant fan of the Play:1. It sounds incredibly amazing, despite the relatively low price tag. A really amazing high-tech feature is the Trueplay tuning. It actually is dependent on the room size and furnishing within it, so it automatically adjusts for the best sounds. However, you can manually adjust settings if you want.

If you don’t have a bunch of smart appliances, or plan to switch to them anytime in the near future, devices like the Echo, CastleHUB or Homey can be just a bit too much tech power. Simplicity is never a bad thing and if you keep the idea of ” a jack of all trades is a master of none” it’s safe to say that the Sonos Play:1 is a master of music.

NOTE: You can read my full comparison of the Sonos system vs Amazon Echo right here.

Option #3: CastleHUB

Another smart home operating system is the CastleHUB by CastleOS. This system works like a giant remote control for your home, all accessed from an app on your phone. CastleOS designed the CastleHUB to be user friendly for those that aren’t exactly tech-savvy, without sacrificing important features. If you want a system to replace all the other hubs in your home, the CastleHUB can do that.

Details & Features:

  • Super powerful Windows 10 x CastleOS software
  • Uses Intel Celeron 2957U CPU
  • 30GB SSD + 2GB RAM
  • Comes with 7 USB ports (4x 4.0 & 3x 2.0)
  • Has a 4-in-1 card reader, HDMI & DisplayPort
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Works with a huge range of smart appliances
  • Compatible with Zwave, Sonos, Insteon, Nest, Ecobee, Zigbee, Wink, Chamberlin and more

The CastleHUB allows you to control pretty much everything about your home you can possibly think of, including:

  • Home security systems
  • Climate control via thermostats
  • Energy consumption
  • Multimedia center control

Thanks to the Windows 10 technology used, essentially all apps that work on that platform will work with the CastleHUB. This includes a Window desktop, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and more. You can use the HUB for everything from controlling your home entertainment center to controlling your entire home. 

CastleHUB really shines in homes that are already using smart appliances or plan on switching to just appliances in the future. With compatible devices you can control door locks, light bulb, light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, audio, Kinnect, window shades and various sensors throughout the house.

For total home control the CastleHUB truly competes with the Echo. If you want a smart home that can be controlled by voice or a single remote (in the form of your phone), your money will be very well spent with this model. Just keep in mind that while it’s easy to learn how to use this device, it really is packed with features and power, making it best suited for those that plan on switching completely to smart appliances.

The Final Take – Are These Better Than the Echo?

Devices like these featured three are completely changing the way many people live. Slowly technology is beginning to become a part of the daily grind, and significantly making everyday life easier. The Echo isn’t the only smart home device out there as you can see, so take the time to shop around before purchasing a product.

Bottom Line: I love and highly recommend the Amazon Echo to everyone I can (check this listing for the latest promotions).

However, it’s not necessarily the perfect fit for everyone. Audiophiles will no doubt appreciate the Sonos Play, while tech geeks will be inspired by the CastleHUB, and next-gen early adopters may want to give the Homey a try.

About the author

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!

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