While Alexa still chiefly lives within Amazon Echo devices, you can at least say that the virtual assistant has a number of holiday homes. Alexa already appears in Sonos, Onkyo and Ultimate Ears speakers, and now Bose is ready to offer it tenancy in a new range of audio equipment.
If all you’ve ever wanted is an Alexa-based smart speaker that can go toe-to-toe with Apple’s HomePod, then the Home Speaker 500 looks like it’ll be a good bet. Launching in October with a $400 (~£310) price tag, the aluminium-encased speaker holds two drivers which point away from each other in order to bounce sounds off surrounding walls, as well as “separating instruments to the far left and right, and placing vocals where the artist did.”
You’ll notice it has a screen, but that’s not an alternative to voice controls. Instead, the screen seems to be purely for displaying album art, though if you want to give your voice a break, there are six touch buttons on top which allow you to automatically go to your favourite playlists, or frequently listened-to internet radio stations.
Related: Google Home vs Amazon Echo
Of course, if you buy a smart speaker, the expectation is that you’ll use your voice. And while the Home Speaker 500 ships with Alexa onboard, Bose says that this is just the beginning with “other voice assistants to follow.” That, presumably means Google Assistant, but beyond that there is clearly scope for Microsoft’s Cortana or Samsung’s Bixby to join the party, should their respective owners sign them off.
Alongside the dedicated smart speaker, Bose revealed a couple of soundbars, that also have Alexa included. These are the Soundbar 500 ($550 – roughly £427) and the Soundbar 700 ($800, or ~£620). Both claim to adapt to the room they’re in to optimise the sound quality, and both can be turned into a full 5.1 sound set up by adding in a bass module and some rear speakers, if you’ve got the cash left over.
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