When Google announced that Google Assistant was coming to smart speakers this year, it hinted that it would have further partners to reveal. Today, we found out that one of them is Sony, which is releasing a gorgeous Assistant-powered smart speaker that appears to take the wind out of the sails of Apple’s HomePod announcement.
“Now you can get Sony’s awesome sound quality and design with the Google Assistant built-in,” Sony Electronics president Mike Fasulo says. “This functionality is another example of Sony’s commitment to customer choice by delivering new and innovative technologies.”
As other tech blogs have pointed out, the horribly-named LF-S50G wireless speaker does indeed look a bit like Apple’s HomePod, which was announced in June but won’t ship until December. But I take exception to the crazy exaggerations that some blogs have made with regards to this supposed copying. Yes, it looks a bit like the HomePod. But then every Ultrabook looks a lot like a MacBook Air, too. Let’s get over this, please.
More to the point, like many others, I’m actually interested in a great-looking smart speaker that works with the best digital personal assistant technology, which is Google Assistant, not with Siri. So the LF-S50G wireless speaker is, by definition, worth knowing about.
And here’s what you need to know about how the LF-S50G wireless speaker really compares to HomePod.
It uses Google Assistant. Not to belabor the point, but it works with the assistant you want to use, not with Siri.
It’s less expensive. Where HomePod will set you back $350, the LF-S50G wireless speaker is just $200.
It will be available sooner. The LF-S50G wireless speaker will ship in October, whereas Apple’s offering won’t ship until December.
It has better connectivity. HomePod is Wi-Fi based, but the LF-S50G wireless speaker supports Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth.
Sound quality matters. I think it’s fair to assume that the HomePod will sound great, but Sony has a pretty good track record here too. The LF-S50G wireless speaker includes a 360 degree, vertical two-way facing speaker system with a full range speaker, a dedicated subwoofer, and an omnidirectional two-stage diffuser.
It’s a better choice for the kitchen. The LF-S50G wireless speaker sports an IPX3 splash-proof design with a water repellant surface, Sony says.
It’s also available in black or white. Like the Apple device, you can get the LF-S50G wireless speaker in black or white to match your tastes and decor. Or blue, eventually.
What’s not clear is stereo pairing, which I doubt is available, but is perhaps something Google could offer through its Google Home app. It does support whole-house audio with any combination of Google Home/Assistant and Chromecast Audio devices, of course.
You can find out more about the LF-S50G wireless speaker from the Sony website. I think it looks great.