by Eric Ravenscraft on
When a single Wi-Fi router won’t do, a mesh Wi-Fi system lets you get strong coverage everywhere in your house without tearing your walls apart. These are our favorites.
Amazon’s Alexa has become one of the best digital assistants on the market, but you don’t have to leave her tethered to a wall. If you want Alexa on the go, here are the best portable Bluetooth speakers with Alexa integration.
How many times have you been outside, enjoying a backyard barbecue as day turns to night, wanting to shout “Hey Alexa, turn on the outside lights!”…but she’s out of range. It’s tragic, really.
Or what about hanging out by the pool and you want to change the music. You could do it with wet hands—or you could just ask Alexa to take care of that for you. You don’t even have to get your soppy self out of the water for that!
That’s when you need a portable speaker that packs your favorite digital assistant and all the comforts you’ve grown used to while in your home and in range of your smart speakers.
The one thing to note before diving into the world of Alexa-equipped Bluetooth speakers is that she only works on Wi-Fi, regardless of which speaker you choose. That means you can use it at home or on public Wi-Fi, but you could also tether the speaker to your phone if you just have to use Alexa. Just a thing to keep in mind! Speaking of hooking up Alexa to your phone—if you want to use Alexa in the car, check out our review of the Roav VIVA that puts Alexa front and center in your ride.
Otherwise, these speakers offer a lot of benefits over a standalone Alexa product, like the Echo—mostly because you can take them with you and bump some tunes over Bluetooth as well, so they serve double duty. If Alexa is your digital assistant of choice and you’re currently looking for a new Bluetooth speaker, there’s no reason no to consider one of these.
Ultimate Ears absolutely changed the game a few years ago when it entered the Bluetooth speaker market with the Boom. The popularity of the Boom then led to the launch of the Megaboom, the Boom 2, and the Megaboom 2, all of which built off the success of the last—we’re big fans of this lineup over all: the Boom 2 made an appearance in our roundup of best Bluetooth speakers for the shower.
Now the company has upped its game once again with the Blast and Megablast, both of which not only pack some of the best audio you’ll get in a Bluetooth speaker today, but also Amazon Alexa. The Blast is the smaller of the two, and the appropriately-named Megablast is quite a bit bigger.
Both speakers are completely waterproof (seriously—take them to the pool without worry) and get a pretty astounding 12-16 hours of playback time over Bluetooth. Again, the only thing worth mentioning here is that Alexa requires Wi-Fi, so that may put a bit of a damper on plans to ask her to turn your lights off after you leave the house. Sorry.
Also, if you decide to pick one of these up, you may also want to consider the optional charging dock ($40). This will make it easy to charge and use your speaker at home, but grab-and-go when you’re heading out.
If you’re looking for a good take-Alexa-with-you speaker, why not go straight to the source? That’s exactly what the Tap is—think of it like a portable version of the Echo…or a bigger version of the Dot. Whatever works for you.
Like all other Bluetooth speaker with Alexa, however, you’ll need Wi-Fi to use Alexa, but otherwise it’s also a nice standalone speaker. It doesn’t offer quite the quality of sound you’ll find from the Blast (which is its closest competitor in terms of size), and certainly not the larger Megablast.
But if you want something made by Amazon, has built-in Alexa support, and is easy to take with you, the Tap may be your Huckleberry. Especially if you don’t want to spend more than a Benjamin.
If you’re looking for something a bit more portable and a bit less expensive, Fabriq’s portable speaker (which is otherwise nameless) should fit the bill.
It’s much smaller than the other speakers on this list, so it’s easy to take with you on the go. But again, and like the rest of the options, it requires Wi-Fi for Alexa. It also features the option to wirelessly daisy chain speakers together—up to 10 of these can be linked together for some pretty crazy music distribution. So if you pick one of these up, make all your friends get one too.
If you already have an Echo Dot and just want to expand its functionality into wireless territory, can pick up the cool battery/speaker base from Mokcao.
On its own, it’s just a battery and set of speakers that can’t really do anything. But once you drop the Dot into the top and dock it, it becomes a powerful setup with 20 watts of sound and a 5000mAh battery.
The biggest drawback to doing it this way instead of buying a dedicated speaker is that the Dot only supports streaming over Wi-Fi—there’s no Bluetooth connection there. So while this makes the Dot portable from room-to-room, it’s not a great on-the-go solution. Still, it’s cool and worth looking into if you just want a good home use speaker and already have an Echo Dot. If you like the idea but want the same concept in a slightly different form factor, be sure to take a look at our review of the Vaux Echo dock too.
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