Sony and Panasonic joins the smart speaker market with Google's voice assistant

Hands On Sony LF-S50G pairs Google Assistant with added smarts and superior sound

	Coming in December for $299

At IFA 2017, Europe's major consumer technology show, Sony, JBL and Harman Kardon released smart speakers. Just the other day, Google said to expect Google Assistant to end up in more smart speakers besides Google Home, and sure enough the Sony LF-S50G will employ Google Assistant. And that's more due to the Japanese OEM's expertise in building top notch audio equipment.

The forthcoming keen speaker, LF-S50G, can be utilized to control brilliant home gadgets like lights. All of this is to capitalize on Sony's existing audio technology to deliver high quality sound throughout a room where the LF-S50G may be deployed. During our demo, only the Sony rep was able to do this well, most likely because he had been trained on exactly where you should place your hands. But it has made a decision to also release a version using Google Assistant after realizing how much time and money it would take to match that level of performance.

Sony originally planned to make a smart speaker equipped with a proprietary conversational AI developed through a subsidiary. Of course, the LF-S50G also works with other Wi-Fi-connected devices that support Google Assistant integration. According to Asia Nikkei, Sony and Panasonic officially join the roster of companies that offer voice-activated speakers powered by artificial intelligence.

Sony is hoping its 360 degree system, which separates the speaker and the sub woofer to balance the sound and minimise distortion at loud volumes and claims to easily fill rooms with sound, will appeal to audiophiles and give it the edge over Apple's forthcoming HomePod smart speaker. Furthermore, the driver is backed by a dedicated bottom firing subwoofer.

With a cylindrical design reminiscent (or arguably derivative) of the HomePod, the LF-S50G is available in black, blue, and white. However, it's not something you should go swimming with.

You can connect the LF-S50G to your phone via Bluetooth, or NFC if your device supports it. Besides Amazon and Google, whose smart speakers make up most of the models currently sold, later this year we will see new versions of the product launched from Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and now Sony. It will go on sale in November and will retail around £200.

Other products that have been launched by JBL include a new Bar series of four soundbars meant for home theatre experience at home in a price range of Euro 179 to Euro 749.

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