IFA (the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) is happening in Germany right now, and the show is apparently the coming out party for third-party speakers with an integrated Google Assistant. Imagine a Google Home, but made by somebody else, without the all-white, air freshener design. The companies are in various stages of rolling out information, ship dates, and pricing, but we have a few details and lots of pretty pictures.
Let’s meet our contestants:
- Onkyo Smart Speaker G3: This one looks like a bookshelf speaker if it were entirely rendered in a plastic mesh. Onkyo’s site has lots of flowery speaker jargon about how powerful it is, but there’s no wattage rating, price, or any actual concrete information. It looks neat, though.
- Panasonic GA10: A tall, skinny rectangle with directional sound. Panasonic doesn’t have any specs or pricing, but it will be available in 2018.
- Sony LF-S50G: Ooh boy. Sony’s entry looks just like an Apple Homepod. It’s $199, has 360-degree sound and a clock display, and somehow manages to have both a “splashproof” IPX3 rating and not be portable. Don’t get your plugged-in electronics wet. This comes out in October.
- Anker Zolo Mojo: A $70, 5-watt speaker with two microphones. Either this got announced accidentally, or Anker’s site is broken right now. This link should work eventually.
- JBL Link 10, Link 20, and Link 300: JBL takes a “family” approach to the Google Assistant speaker with “small,” “medium,” and “large” offerings. The Link 10 and 20 are portable with five and 10 hours of battery life, respectively, with an IPx7 “waterproof” design. The Link 300 is a plugged-in, non-waterproof affair. From small to large, prices are €169 ($200), €199 ($236), and €299 ($355). Harman owns the JBL brand, and Samsung bought Harman for $8 billion last year, so Samsung is producing a Google Assistant speaker before it produces a Bixby speaker.
- Mobvoi TicHome Mini: Another portable offering. This one comes in five colors: black, white, blue, red, and tan. It has a “6-hour” battery life and an IPX6 “splashproof” water-resistance rating. There’s no price yet.
Since these are all basically third-party Google Homes, they should have identical functionality, so besides asking and answering questions with the “Ok Google” hotword, they’re all Google Cast receivers and smart home control devices, and they support multiple accounts with the ability to distinguish users by voice. Google says users should expect the Google Assistant to be “just about the same across speakers,” so we’re going to assume that means they can also make phone calls and will eventually, someday, support reminders. Google’s blog post also has a word about availability, generally pegging everything for “later this year” (which is not true of Panasonic’s offering) and saying that “most will be available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, and France.”
Google launched the Google Assistant SDK in April, which let hardware hackers build the Google Assistant into just about anything. This week’s speaker announcements are clearly the commercial side of that release. These third-party speakers won’t have the spotlight for too long, though, since we’ve heard Google has a new Google Home of its own planned. The new device will supposedly be smaller and cheaper—basically Google’s version of an Amazon Echo Dot.
Listing image by Sony