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Insignia Voice Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker and Alarm Clock review: The best buy in Google Assistant speakers

Google Home is no longer the only option for a great home speaker featuring Google Assistant and all of its goodness. Google's AI has been added to speakers by big-name brands like JBL, Onkyo, Sony, and more, but the best buy in Google Assistant's speakers comes from Best Buy's in-house electronics brand, Insignia.

Insignia has two models of Insignia Voice speakers powered by Google Assistant: a smaller, non-portable speaker and a larger speaker with a five-hour battery life. While both are easily price performers over the rest of the currently available Google Assistant speakers, the portable version is bigger, bolder, and better in every way. Now that the Insignia Voice Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker is only $5 more than its little sister, it's the perfect smart speaker and alarm clock for those who like to bring their music with them from room to room as they go about their morning.

The Good

  • Big sound and big battery let you jam out all afternoon before you need to plug back in
  • Large, grippy carry handle hidden under the touchpad
  • 0-99 volume control for precision

The Bad

  • The clock display can't be turned completely off
  • Controls aren't explained very well, especially to turn it off
  • Proprietary power adapter instead of standard charger

time and temp display

Okay, Google, rock my world

Insignia Voice Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker What I love

This portable speaker is a tall drink of Google Assistant, sporting a frosted front display that always shows the time and can show the temperature when you ask it as well as showing the volume when you're turning it up or down. That volume goes from 0-100%, and while this speaker isn't as big as a Google Home Max or Sonos PLAY:5, 100% can shake the windows with its big sound. Even putting the speaker at 66% made me worry about noise complaints from the neighbors, but if you need to fill a big backyard party or barn-burner of a hoedown, the Insignia Voice can fit the bill all on its own.

Big speaker, even bigger sound

The height of the Insignia Voice's display is great for low nightstands and cluttered countertops, with the time easily visible above mugs, kickstanded phones, and recipe ingredients, though the black mesh covering the bottom half of the unit can pick up stains from sugar, flour, makeup, and other powdery substances as you go about your day. With Google Assistant's custom routines, Insignia's alarms are even easier to set than traditional radio alarms since you can set time-triggered routine alarms from your phone or set music alarms on the fly with voice commands.

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Get a handle on things

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Easy controls

When was carrying the Insignia home in its sizable box, I had my doubts about how truly portable such a heavy speaker could be, but they were completely unfounded. While the speaker looks like a single, solid block, there's actually a carry handle hidden on the back of the speaker and stretching under the top touchpad. It's wide enough to fit four fingers into, then wrapping my palm around the top of the speaker for a secure grip as I carry it from room to room.

Insignia is portable, but not as portable as the TicHome

Portable but clunky

Insignia Voice Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker What could still improve

While you can easily carry the Insignia Voice from room to room, but since it uses an AC adapter power supply, you can't leave charger cables to plug it up in multiple rooms the way the TicHome Mini — Mobvoi's portable Google Assistant speaker — can with its standard microUSB port. AC adapters are the norm for home speakers, but most portable speakers have long shifted to more standard connections for convenience, and USB-C and the USB-PD fast-charging standard would have been much appreciated here.

Controls on the Insignia Voice are similar to a Google Home, but differ in a few distinct and confusing ways. You have to hold the mute/power button down for 4 seconds to turn it off, but if you hold it down too long, the Insignia will factory reset itself instead, which is exactly what I did the first time I tried turning it off.

The in-store displays let passersby change tracks by waving their hand over the speaker, but I haven't been able to do that with mine at home; waving just illuminates the volume and command buttons so you can hit them in the dark.

Block out the light

That said, it's never truly dark in your bedroom with the Insignia Voice. While you can dim the clock display, you can't turn it all the way off, and since that clock display is so high up, you'll need to get creative when blocking it. I've taken one of my AC mugs, stuffed an old stretchable book cover inside for padding, and us that to cradle my phone at night while propping it up high enough to block the clock's light.

Get your Google on

Insignia Voice Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The Insignia Voice isn't perfect, but for $45, it's the only Google Assistant speaker I need in my one-bedroom apartment. Whether I'm carrying it to the bathroom to jam out while I shower — this speaker is not waterproof, I leave it on the vanity counter — bringing it to the kitchen for timers and recipe instructions, or using it on the balcony while I write in the sunshine, its battery lasts long enough to get it back to its proprietary charger.

4.5 out of 5

With Google Assistant's magic, the Insignia Voice can wake me up, get me ready for my day, wind me down, and then put me to sleep for less than half the price of a Google Home. Smart speakers with Google Assistant like this price-performer are only getting more and more plentiful, and there's one for rooms and homes of every size showcased on the Google Assistant website. If the Insignia doesn't strike your fancy, tell us what might that which one should review next.

See at Best Buy

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

36 Comments
  • I have this speaker, so let me add a few things about its limitations that you should know about. First, continued conversations doesn't work. The Google Home app lists it as a supported device, and it used to work, but it doesn't now. Not sure when it stopped. Voice calls aren't supported. Scheduled routines work...usually. And, interestingly, mine is delayed by a few minutes. I have it set at 6:00 a.m. to play KOLA on TuneIn, but the routine starts several minutes late each day. I wonder if it has anything to do with a 6:00 a.m. alarm I have set on my Pixel 2 XL. I need to play around with that to see what happens, but just be aware that it's a little glitchy. You can't adjust the sound in the Google Home app. Having said that, I think the sound is pretty good as it is, so I don't mind not having that feature. I think a firmware update would fix all of this, but it's been quite a while since one has been sent out.
  • The Scheduled Routines have been working fine for me up until this morning, when both my Insignia and TicHome Mini stopping triggering scheduled Routines... and the day that they finally started working on my Google Home. Seems to be some sort of system bug that cropped up overnight.
  • Same here, except, this morning, I couldn't even trigger my scheduled routine with the trigger phrase. Not sure what's happening.
  • I have noticed these same limitations and agree I hope a firmware upgrade will come along.
  • Damn. I thought I was going to get in here before the Continued Conversation complaints.
  • I just bought my third one even though my apartment is really small. As a group, it sounds fantastic although one sounds great, too. You can turn the display completely off by voice simply saying "Turn screen off" the same way you would change the level of brightness. I've never had an issue. I've seen the complaints about Continued Conversations not working but mine continues to work just fine. The only issue I've had lately is random activation of the Hey Google prompt. I have mine set to make the activation sounds and I'll hear them individually at times but never on all the speakers at the same time. I'm thinking of getting one more, especially as they keep lowering the price. The other day, was $35 on a daily deal, which is incredible given the added speakers and portability. I'll be curious to see how long they offer this. After having a large inventory of the larger version at my local Best Buy, they just ran out for the first time since it was initially offered. I think it is truly one of the best smart speakers around, more so considering the price. If phone calls aren't a priority (since I don't think the feature will ever be added) then you can't go wrong, even as a music player.
  • Thanks for the screen off tip! Could have sworn I'd already tried that.
    I went with the A/C model for $25, but if I see the portable on sale again, I'll jump!
  • I have the smaller one, too, and the sound on that one is pretty solid. Got it for $25. I moved it out of my bedroom because of the light, but found out later that you can turn it off by voice, so it's going back in. It definitely works, just say "Hey Google, turn off the display" and bam! No more light.
  • O.O (walks out of the building, screams up to the heavens) HOW DID I NOT THINK OF THAT?!?!?!
  • This really speaks to the lack of info from the manufacturer on this thing. I wouldn't know this if not for others on a deal forum. These have now gone down to $25 for the portable and $20 for the smaller one. Another neat thing that I never would have known if not for the forum is you can not only setup a group, but you have a separte option to actually pair two of them and get stereo speakers. It sounds great tested it yesterday. And with them this cheap you can get two for stereo speakers for less than the mini.
  • One thing that I want to add is that, after posting here, I checked out the Best Buy forums, and someone said that their scheduled routine stopped working yesterday. Mine ran yesterday, but it didn't run this morning. I'm hoping this is just a passing glitch and not a sign of something else. I guess we'll see.
  • It's happening with my TicHome Mini, too, so I think it's a Google bug. Some international users said that routines started working for them intermittently around the same time, so I think this was a update and expansion that went sour.
  • But will it blend??! Wait, wrong question.... So, do calls work or not? People seem to say 'no', but BestBuy lists it as compatible (although, strangely, the non-battery one is listed as not compatible).
  • That's funny because I got the AC version last x-mas free with the purchase of a $30 blender, so yes, it will blend!
  • No, they don't. That's a definite.
  • Not yet. I still keep forgetting that's something you can do with them.
  • In my earlier post I mentioned how Continued Conversations is still working on my speakers, so I can't speak for anyone else, but calls definitely have never worked for me. It's funny, the other night, when one speaker randomly made the prompt sound, the voice (without any speech from me) asked which number I wanted to call relating to a particular contact. It was very strange but I still got a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, calling was activated. Naturally, when I immediately tried to make a call, I received the "cannot make calls yet" message. It was clearly the most bizarre experience I've had with the speakers. I do know that Insignia's canned response to the question is that it is up to Google to release the calling ability to third-party devices. With the recent release of the Google Assistant smart displays from Lenovo, they've allowed calling on those. I would love to see the feature. I'm just wondering if a product that is now considered "old" relative to the lifespan of devices in the tech world, isn't nearing (or has already) the dreaded end-of-life stamp.
  • Wow, great info here. Yes that is one bright light. But I just told it to "turn screen off" and out it went. What a relief, that was making it really hard to sleep! I have continued conversations no problem. But last night my "Good Night" routine failed. We'll see how it goes tonight. Overall I really like this device.
  • Scheduled routines have had a bug since last night on third-party Google Assistant devices, and unfortunately both my Insignia and TicHome Mini have been hit. Making me a sad panda.
  • I have the smaller one when they combined it free during Christmas sales. Liked it alot because of the time clock that I got the bigger one for the living room. It replaced Google home and mini. I do miss the voice call feature but I really like the clock in these.
  • I bought one when it was discounted. It displays the temperature, but not constantly. Unlike Google Home, it can be used as an Alarm clock. Also, mine lost internet connection a couple of times. Unplugging it and plugging it back in fixed it.
  • So underrated. Glad to see these getting some kind of coverage.
  • I have this speaker and the smaller non portable one. I took advantage and brought the smaller one a few months back when it was on a flash sale for I think $29.99. Then I brought this much better, bigger and portable version last Friday when it was on a flash sale for $35.99! Great deal, the sound is loud with decent bass but it can be a little muddy and will clip at volume past 78. Nevertheless, can't beat the value. I have Chromecast audio hooked to my big stereo speakers when I want true heavy bass stereo sound.
  • Dude, how do you still have your hearing after putting it above 70??? Yeah, I get it clipping at those volumes, but were you trying to listen to it from across a football field of something?
  • LOL, I was testing it out to see how loud it would go 😊 usually I listen at around 62.
  • Will the alarm feature still work if the unit loses its internet connection?
  • Alarms set to the device before you lose internet will play an alarm tone if they can't reach the music. Scheduled routines (what I'm using so that I can set them to do multiple actions and trigger every single day) are triggered via server currently, so scheduled routines do not trigger if you lose internet.
  • Do broadcasts work. I've never heard whether they work on any non Google Home products. This would be a perfect for an upstairs bedroom provided I can tell Google to broadcast to my kids upstairs
  • Works for me on both Insignia models.
  • Yes, they do. Ditto for multiple users and speaker groups.
  • Can't get continued conversation to work though (it is listed in the Home app). From the BBuy forums it seems this stopped working for most since end of July
  • We all know you can dim the clock display right? Just hold the "0" icon down and tap on the "-" to dim. Tap on the "+" to brighten
  • Thank you thank you!!!! I picked up two of these simply because of the insanely low price a few weeks ago. I'm amazed at how good they sound.
  • Gotta hand it to you Ara, these are excellent, especially for the price. I ended up getting 2 of them for $70, so considering this is $35 a pop, this is an absolute steal. I was using a first gen Echo, and a second gen dot for my bedroom and kitchen. Now I have these and my gosh, the upgrade in sound is awesome. Google Assistant is smarter than Alexa too, so that's a win. Thanks for this article!
  • This is hideous
  • "The clock display can't be turned completely off" You can turn it off by holding the Volume down and the center circle