Launched in October 2016 with the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the Google Assistant digital companion is the company’s entry in the growing, and highly competitive, virtual connected helper race. While it was relatively late in the running, launching well after Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant has quickly become a major player in this space.
Of course Google wanted to see its Assistant inside of more hardware than just phones, so in late 2016 the Google Home was introduced, offering consumers a smart connected speaker that was powered by Google Assistant. In 2017, Assistant also expanded to even more handsets, in fact it now supports virtually all Android Nougat and Marshmallow-based smartphones. That’s only the beginning, though.
In this feature, we will go over all of the announced Google Assistant-based smart speakers that are either already available, or have been announced but not yet released. This list of Assistant smart speakers will be updated regularly as they go on sale, and more are announced.
The Google Home is the Google’s first venture into the smart speaker space, which Amazon essentially kickstarted with its lineup of Echo smart speakers that use the company’s own Alexa assistant. It was designed to be small and to hopefully blend better into the home, compared to the black and tall cylinder of the main Amazon Echo speaker. It does have embedded LEDs light on the top that light up to indicate the volume level, or when a user makes an “OK Google” Assistant command. Only one button is available, and that’s just to mute its microphones.
The speaker does require that the user access the Google Home app on their smartphone, so he or she can link it to its home Wi-Fi network. Even though it its pretty small, it manages to pack in an excellent audio experience that is widely considered superior to the Amazon Echo. Since its launch, Google Home has added a number of features via software updates, including hands-free voice calling, for US and Canadian owners, along with multi-user support.
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Mobvoi TicHome Mini
This small, battery-powered disk-like smart speaker, which was first announced a few months ago, is supposed to be IPX6 water resistant and can even be used as a Bluetooth speaker when connected to another device like a smartphone. It is supposed to go on sale later this year for a price that will be somewhere under $100, and it will be available in several different colors. Mobvoi is actually a China-based company, which Google has a minority investment. This speaker could be a way to introduce the huge Chinese audience to Google’s services (the company’s own Google Play Services are currently blocked in China).
Anker Zolo Mojo
This speaker comes from Anker, who may be best known for their external batteries. The Zolo Mojo speaker has a cylindrical design that looks like a shorter, fatter version of the Amazon Echo. It will also feature Bluetooth wireless support. Anker hints this may be the first in a lineup of Google Assistant-powered smart speakers from the company. A price tag for the Zolo Mojo has yet to be revealed but it will be out before the end of 2017.
This speaker from the well known electronics and appliances company has a design that looks, at first glance, like any other speaker that you might find for your TV or stereo. Panasonic says the GA10 has two 20-mm soft dome tweeters inside and will come in black or white colors. Again, pricing and a release date for this product have yet to be revealed.
JBL Link 10, Link 20, and Link 300
Harman subsidiary JBL recently announced plans to launch a new line of Google Assistant-based smart speakers, under the Link branding. The Link 10 and Link 20 speakers are Echo-like cylindrical speakers that can be powered by batteries as well as AC cords. The Link 10 will have up to five hours of battery life, while the Link 20 doubles that power to 10 hours. Both are IPX7 waterproof rated, in case you want to take them to the pool or on the beach. The much larger, and more torus-shaped, LINK 300 offers more powerful sound, but does not have the battery option. All of these smart speakers can be linked together for multi-room sound.
The JBL speakers will go on sale later this fall, with the Link 10 priced at $149, the Link 20 selling for $199 and the Link 300 priced at $249.
Sony, which continues to release Android-based smartphones with its Xperia line up, plans to enter the connected speaker space later this year. The Sony LF-S50G will use Google Assistant as its virtual companion to give its owners some help with everyday tasks. Its design resembles that of Apple’s own upcoming speaker, the HomePod. Sony’s product will offer 360 degree sound with its two-way facing speaker, along with a two-stage diffuser, and a bass reflex duct. It will also have Bluetooth support and even an LED clock display.
Sony plans to sell the LF-S50G in the US sometime in October for the price of about $200 and it will come in black or grey color choices. It will go on sale in Germany, France and the UK in November.
Onkyo Smart Speaker G3
This small device may not be much to look at, in terms of its design, but the Onkyo Smart Speaker G3 seems like it will have more going on inside. While its design may resemble an older stereo speaker, it not only has Google Assistant support inside, but also has Chromecast support, enabling it to cast music to any Chromecast-based wireless speakers, soundbars, and other systems that you might have in your home.
The company says the Smart Speaker G3 has a custom woofer with massive motor, which is inside a thick metal surround. Onkyo claims this will allow for the speaker to have 1.5 times the cone excursion of normal drivers. It will also have support for dynamic noise-reduction DSP technology for high quality audio, no matter how loud it gets. The Onyko Smart Speaker G3 will come in black or white colors and will go on sale starting in October for about $250.
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