Sony Has a Google Assistant Smart Speaker Too

Posted on August 31, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Smart Home with 9 Comments

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.

 

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Sony Has a Google Assistant Smart Speaker Too”

  1. Avatar

    lvthunder

    I'll wait until a real comparison can be made between the two. You know when someone has both units and can test them. I'm not sold on these speaker assistants anyways.

  2. Avatar

    david.thunderbird

    200? boy they sure can over price their balogna

  3. Avatar

    Bats

    The primary point of these speakers is, of course, sound.

    To be honest, i am not surprised by this at all. As a matter of fact, I expect that there will be more.

    Sony's name is synonomyous with entertainment and it's brand is not only well known, but also very powerful.

    Of course, people in "the know" (like Thurrott.com users) can make a good case against Sony, but for the other 99% Sony is also synonomous for quality...the highest.

  4. Avatar

    JerryH

    It will be interesting to see how these work. We've got 5 Google Home devices in the house now to cover it. The downside on them is that they don't have good speakers. We've also got 5 audio Chromecast devices and two of Brookstone's Big Blue Party devices so that we can cast to good speakers. These Sony devices might fit in that niche in between where they sound good enough for a small room.


    Of course the other downside of Google Home / Google assistant is the lack of it being able to maintain context between devices on the same network / same user account. For example with one in the kitchen and one in the family room it will all too often go down like this:


    Hey Google, set a timer for the hot tub for 20 minutes

    (kitchen device responds): OK, 20 minutes, starting now.

    later - Hey Google, how much time left on my timer?

    (Family room device decides to respond): you don't have any timers.

    two minutes later the kitchen device goes off with the timer beeping.


    It gets worse when you are casting music and want to skip a song. The other devices refuse to acknowledge that anything is playing...

  5. Avatar

    red.radar

    [quote] It uses Google Assistant. Not to belabor the point, but it works with the assistant you want to use, not with Siri. /[quote]


    I am not certain I understand your point. Sure for the vast majority of Android Users in the market Google Assistant makes sense because its the built in assistant and you enjoy the integration benefits.


    But for the Iphone users... Why would i want to use Google Assistant? Its not built in, I can't use it without opening a specific App in the landmine organization of IOS homescreen. I rather use Siri or more to the point the built in assistant. Also integrates with the watch well by just holding the crown in.


    Are you saying the Features of Google Assistant are far superior?


    I think it would be a nice article to benchmark or compare all the assitants Google, Alexa, Cortana, Siri.

  6. Avatar

    MikeGalos

    Yes, now that Google is involved the category is real. That Amazon and Microsoft and Apple all have a head start doesn't matter. In fact Amazon, who really did invent this category, isn't even worth a mention.

    This reminds me of the people who bought into Apple's "We invented the personal computer" when Microsoft had already been selling software for all the other existing personal computers for 2 years by the time Apple entered the market.

  7. Avatar

    Minok

    The assistant one wants it he one that they already use, and to some extent that can also be tied to the phone they have. That problem, of "what happens if I swap phone ecosystems" hasn't been sorted yet, and may never. So if your an iOS user, then Google's assistant is marginably useful, and if your an Android user, then Apples is useless. But if you switch by replacing an iPhone with a Samsung phone, or vice versa.. do you replace your deployed fleet of smart speakers? Or is this further ecosystem lock-in stickiness? The later at present. So to that end, I use Alexa to answer general questions and some day integrate to my digital life (if it ever has the ability to access my iOS or Android notes, reminders and calendar data). For now I cannot ask Alexa to add onions to my shopping list, which is the list on my iOS phone, because thats the one I carry with me to the store. And for music, I ask Alexa to connect to my iPhone and then bluetooth stream, cause I'm old school and don't use a streaming service, prefering to listen to my mix from my sources.

  8. Avatar

    SteveM

    It would be nice if you could say OK Google or Hey Cortana or whatever Alexa and Siri uses and that assistant chimes in and answers. I have more than one friend and not all of them can answer everything, surely it's the same with these assistants.

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