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HARMAN's new speakers work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

01 September 2017

The wireless smart speaker market is getting increasingly crowded, with the latest big-named player to enter the game being Sony.

Additionally, the LF-S50G has a couple other neat features. Dubbed the LF-S50G, this new speaker has the Google Assistant built in and looks suspiciously like Apple's HomePod (but at a much lower cost). The design is simple, sophisticated and it is small enough to blend into a home, rather than stand out like Amazon Echo does.

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. It also has an IPX3-rating and a water repellent coating so it can be placed in the kitchen or bathroom, as well as the living room or any other room you fancy it in. It packs all the features that one gets on Google Home.

Starting with "OK Google", you can ask the speaker to play a certain artist, turn the volume up or down, ask how the weather is, or even ask it something like how to make Chinese dumplings. Similarly, touching an NFC-enabled (technology which allows a device to share information wirelessly, such as making a contactless payment) iOS or Android smartphone to it will trigger the speaker to mirror the music playing on the phone.

If you don't want to use your voice, the LF-S50G also supports non-touch hand gestures to start/stop music, skipping tracks and adjust the volume - just wave your hand next to the speaker. The LF-S50G also has an always-on clock that's embedded in its fabric.

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The inside smarts are the same, with Google listening for your command and following your instructions.

Sony audio products with Chromecast built-in include: The model HT-ST5000, HT-NT5, and HT-CT800 sound bars, model STRZA810ES, STR-DN1080, and STR-DN860 receivers, model SRS-ZR7 and SRS-ZR5 wireless speakers. However, given the LF-S50G's price tag of $199, it may just sway over people who aren't keen to live in Apple's ecosystem or prefer the intelligence of Google over Amazon.

What does the Sony smart speaker do?

It offers 360-degree sound thanks to a 48mm full-range driver and 53mm subwoofer, plus a two-stage diffuser and bass reflex duct. It's small, it's subtle and based on our experience with it, it appears to manage to produce a decent sound from its compact body. The smart speaker craze, kicked off by the launch of the Amazon Echo in the US on June 23rd 2015, has taken hold in 2017.

It will be available from November for £200.

HARMAN's new speakers work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant