Garmin Speak updates the Global Positioning System for 2017 with Alexa, and good design

Forget BMW, the Garmin Speak Is a Cheaper Way to Put Alexa in Your Car

You can accomplish the same thing with an Echo Dot connected to Sonos speakers you already own, which is a good option for existing customers. However, it doesn't have an actual map interface like most GPS units do, instead, the Garmin Speak is an audio-based GPS device in which users must connect to their smartphones (with cellular data enabled) in order for the GPS to work.

As I navigated Spotify to play music through the Sonos One, Alexa tried to help out with the setup. Then again, $699 is a lot of dough just to reinforce a $200 speaker. Although they differ on some minor points here and there, the reaction to the Sonos One has been overwhelmingly positive. The best, though, is telling your speakers to play, pause, turn up, turn down, or skip to the next song. The device, simply called Garmin Speak with Amazon Alexa, is said to be the first in-car gadget that gives drivers access to Alexa, as well as navigation via Garmin's own tech.

Add a Sonos One and you can control every Sonos speaker on your network with voice commands.

After years of controlling music with a computer or an iPhone, moving to voice control is liberating. Or you can even group them together using simple voice commands. So you don't miss out on all voice control through non-supported music streaming services.

For all the praise I've heaped on the Sonos One, there are a couple of things that I really don't like about it.

Amazon's Alexa has come a long way since its debut on the original Echo back in 2014, both from a software perspective and hardware availability. Now Garmin is taking Alexa for a ride, incorporating the digital assistant in a teeny in-vehicle navigation device. An illuminated LED indicator light is on when the mic is active, ensuring no one is listening when users want privacy. However, specialists indicate that tool will be available soon. If this device doesn't check your boxes, a few alternatives are on the way: There's Google's upcoming, $400 Home Max (which looks like the Play:5), and Apple's $350 HomePod, expected in December. When this update happens, Sonos will become the first third-party speaker to have Alexa control for Spotify.

The interface for the Sonos One has been redesigned, replacing traditional buttons with a smooth touch control system. I also have two Sonos PLAY:1 speakers at home, so when Sonos announced that they are bringing Alexa into their eco-system with the new Sonos One, I was ecstatic.

Testing this was tricky in our brief time at Amazon HQ, but our experience inside a busy demo room, even when whispering, suggested the new Echo devices shouldn't miss a... skill.

Unless you find the drawbacks I've described to be deal breakers, the Sonos One is a no brainer.



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