People who own Sonos speakers love their Sonos speakers. I'm one of them. In the three to four years that I've been living in the Sonos ecosystem, however, one big complaint was that I couldn't use Sonos for my TV unless I barfed up $1000 for the Sonos Playbase or Playbar. Now, with the $600 Sonos Beam, I can run a 5.1 surround sound system in my living room, and holy crap I love it.
Tagged With smart speakers
When it comes to smart speakers, the Sonos Beam is about as versatile as you can get. Of course, there is Sonos sound - but you've also got support for over 80 music services, Amazon Alexa - at launch - and even more assistants planned in the future.
Here's when and where you can get your hands on one - and how much it will set you back.
Do you own a HomePod, Apple's needlessly expensive smart speaker? Have you ever wished you could connect your multiple HomePods, the ones that sit lovingly in your magnificent house, so they could all play the exact same song at the exact same time? Does that kind of technology sound like it should have already been included when the HomePod launched in February this year?
Well, better late than never - today Apple announced the ability to sync music between multiple HomePods. Two HomePods can also now work as a stereo pair.
What's the most terrifying thing you can imagine an Amazon Echo doing? Think realistically. Would it be something simple but sinister, like the artificially-intelligent speaker recording a conversation between you and a loved one and then sending that recording to an acquaintance? That seems pretty bad to me. And guess what: it's happening.
When Amazon launched the Echo back in late 2014, it kicked off one of the biggest trends in tech. Almost overnight, it seemed like every company wanted to get in on that sweet smart speaker action. However, largely because Amazon was first to market, the Echo has consistently been the top-selling smart speaker for the last three and a half years.
At Google I/O 2018, Google announced that its digital assistant was getting upgraded with more natural-sounding speech in addition to six new alternate voices. Then, Google promptly scared the hell out of everyone by using the Google Assistant's new skills to mimic a real voice so well, people on the other end of a phone call apparently didn't know they were speaking to a robot.
Surprise, surprise, turns out Apple's debut foray into the world of voice assistant-enabled speakers isn't quite living up to the company's initial expectations. According to a Bloomberg report, the company has lowered the number of HomePods being manufactured by one of its partners, Inventec Corporation and is looking to make a second smart speaker, one a bit less expensive than its current $499 offering.
Loving your new Google Home Mini? Hating its tinny sound and lack of auxiliary output options? Well Google appears to have heard your lo-fi cries of anguish, and responded by adding a way to control your third-party Bluetooth speakers using your Google Home device. Nice work! It only took a whole year.
Facebook "has decided not to unveil" its line of connected home speakers, which boast digital assistant and video-chat capabilities, at its developer conference in May because too many people have wised up to the fact said products will probably turn their homes into Mark Zuckerberg-surveilled Panopticons.
Your smart speaker is getting smarter - and part of that involves taking over what's on the big TV screen sat in the corner of your living room. Y
It seems like every new wireless speaker on the market comes with a voice assistant now. Since 2014, when Amazon announced the Echo, the idea of a smart speaker has taken the gadget world by storm. Apple has finally thrown its hat into the ring with the release of the HomePod, leaving us to wonder which smart speaker is the best smart speaker. So we tested them to find out.
While it produces fantastic audio, Apple's new HomePod smart speaker has also annoyed early users with obtuse software limitations, a lack of real Bluetooth connectivity, and missing multi-room playback support that won't come until later this year. And now there's one more irritation to add to that list, as it seems the HomePod can damage your wood furniture.
Sometimes, years pass before Apple creates a completely new product like the HomePod. During that parade of iPhone redesigns and MacBook upgrades, it can be easy to forget that when Apple enters a new space, the company does it with swagger. The products are beautiful. They work well. But they are also usually exclusively designed to work with other Apple products and services. The $449 HomePod is all of these things, and it drives me crazy.
When unexplained delays pushed Apple's smart speaker back from a 2017 debut, Apple said it needed "a little more time before it's ready" and promised an "early 2018" release. Now it seems Apple is making good on its revised launch window, as the HomePod will officially go on sale on February 9.
Yesterday, a report from Bloomberg came out saying that Samsung will launch a Bixby-powered smart speaker sometime in the first half of 2018. This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since DJ Koh already told CNBC back in August that the company was indeed trying to put its digital assistant, which first debuted on the Galaxy S8, into a smart speaker.
It seems inevitable that one day your entire home will be wired so that smart assistants can hear your every request, no matter where you are. But if you mostly rely on a smart speaker, its built-in mic can only eavesdrop so far. Companies like Google would certainly love it if you bought a smart speaker for every room in your house, but a better solution is to just make your Google Home portable with a fancy pair of battery pants.
Thanks in large part to the low-cost Echo Dot, Amazon grabbed an early lead in the smart speaker space. But this spring Google hit back hard with the Home Mini, which has become the best cheap smart speaker to buy for most people. Unfortunately, shortly after its launch, a bug affecting the top touch controls in some Home Minis caused Google to disable the feature in order to prevent its device from recording audio at all times.
In the gadget-world, it's cliché to compare something to The Jetsons. But when it comes to a cheap little box that you talk to and that answers your questions and that controls your entire home, the comparison is just too perfect. The $US50 Amazon Echo Dot and the $79 Google Home Mini are two such boxes. They're not perfect gadgets, but they offer a lot for the money.
Despite what you may have read, the Amazon Echo was never a do-anything smart home device. Sure it could tell you about the weather and maybe control your lights, but it lacked the under-the-hood hub capabilities that could make all your connected devices work together. The new Amazon Echo Plus offers just that. I'm not sure it's worth it, but that absolutely depends on you.
Look, I don't really care about Apple's upcoming HomePod because even though it might sound fantastic, I'm not convinced I need to drop a few hundred dollars on yet another smart speaker. Even so, I appreciate a job well done, no matter how small, and the person or people responsible for the status sounds for the HomePod have created some of the most relaxing little tunes found on any device yet.