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Harman unveils Alexa- and Google Assistant-powered speakers
The Harman Kardon Allure is a humidifier-looking speaker powered by Alexa, and the JBL Link series harbors Google Assistant.
Harman may be a Samsung company now, as it kindly points out on the official website, but I suppose that doesn’t mean its speakers can’t be friends with Bixby’s rivals: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. At IFA, the international audio company has announced four new connected speakers, all of which can stream music, tell you the weather, and more with the help of either Alexa or Google Assistant.
Let’s start with the Harmon Kardon Allure, the company’s first-ever smart speaker to be powered by Alexa (pictured above). It comes with four microphones with far-field voice detection technology, 360-degree sound, Bluetooth connectivity, and a bizarre-looking 360-degree ambient lighting design. Though the speaker is powered by Alexa, who already boasts having more than 20,000 skills, its design – at least for me – is underwhelming at best. Unlike the Cortana-powered Invoke, which is set to be released later in the year, the Allure looks like a mini humidifier with its translucent plastic-looking top. The asking price isn’t too attractive either: the Allure will be available this winter for $249.95 in the US.
Google Assistant-powered Link
The Link 10 and 20 speakers are designed to be highly portable with 5 to 10 hours of battery life as well as IPX7 water-resistance.
As for Google Assistant’s new home, it’s a slightly different story. Harman’s subsidiary JBL is behind the brand-new Link line-up, and you can say, “OK, Google” in order to activate Google’s AI in all three speakers: Link 10, Link 20, and Link 300. JBL says that all three models “give consumers rich, full-range sound and instant access to their favorite music through voice control.” The Link 10 and 20 speakers are designed to be highly portable with 5 to 10 hours of battery life as well as IPX7 water-resistance; that’s better than the just-announced Sony LF-S50G. The Link 300, on the other hand, is meant to be a stationary speaker. The Link 5, 10, and 300 will be available this fall for $149, $199, and $249 respectively.
With Google’s recent announcement of expanding its AI assistant to third party speakers, it seems Google Assistant will find even more new homes in the coming months. The same is true for Alexa, but the question is, “Are consumers ready to pay a premium for brand-name speakers that offer the exact same connected capabilities as Google and Amazon’s very own?”
At any rate, with the introduction of the Allure and Link speakers, Harman now has a full line-up of speakers powered by three different AI assistants. It’s probably safe to say that the company won’t ever add Siri to that list, but given that it’s now wholly-owned by Samsung, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a Bixby-powered Harman speaker in the near future.
Given that it’s now wholly-owned by Samsung, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a Bixby-powered Harman speaker in the near future.
How important is audio quality for you? Would you pay extra to buy a “premium brand” smart speaker? Let us know by leaving a comment below!