As expected, access to voice digital assistants was the most popular feature at CES 2018. With voice assistants integrated in virtually any type of appliance, including smart speakers, Google is apparently relying on its strategic partnerships with other manufacturers to create alternatives to Amazon's rival designs. In a way competing directly with Amazon's Echo Show, Harman introduced the newest member of JBL LINK series, offering a voice-activated smart assistant that users can see and hear. The new JBL LINK View, is a Smart Display Speaker with Google Assistant.
Working in close collaboration with Google, Harman took the listening experience a step further by incorporating an 8” high-definition display with a touch screen and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The LINK View combines sound quality with features that are ideal for anyone that consumes a large amount of content daily. Users can view pictures, stream audio and video, ask questions, scan recipes, and video call with family and friends, all with their voice.
According to Lou Schreurs, Harman's VP, Connected Home & Luxury Audio BU, General Management, “Research shows voice activated speakers are no mere novelty. Sixty percent of owners now consider them a necessity. By continuing to enhance their experience by adding HD display with a touch screen and a front-facing camera, people will find even more ways to make these speakers an important part of their lives, routines and enjoyment.”
Featuring Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the high-resolution touch screen and camera is framed by two front-firing stereo speakers (2 x 10W) and a rear-facing passive radiator, delivering deep bass. Made with premium materials that easily wipe clean, and designed to have a small footprint to take up minimal counter space, the JBL LINK View seamlessly integrates into any room in the house with Chromecast built-in. Users can set it up in the kitchen (IPX4 splash proof), and with the Google Assistant, follow along with a recipe, video call with friends, scroll through vacation photos, cast YouTube videos or connect the device to other LINK speakers for a multi-room listening experience.
"With smart displays, we're bringing the Google Assistant to a new class of device that deliver a fully interactive and visual experience. Smart displays can do everything the Google Assistant speakers can, with the additional benefit of a beautiful touch screen. They make it easy to watch YouTube videos, enjoy personal photos, follow recipes, control smart home devices and more," says Chris Turkstra, Director, Google Assistant. "We're excited to bring the LINK View to market with JBL and are committed to deliver a helpful, visual Google Assistant experience."
The JBL View will be available on JBL.com and at select retailers starting Summer 2018 in USA only, other regions will follow at a later date.
Harman Kardon Allure Portable
Harman also introduced the Harman Kardon Allure Portable with Amazon Alexa Voice Service. Serving as a companion to the original Harman Kardon Allure, introduced at IFA 2017, this new speaker provides an improved design and sound quality in a sleeker, portable form factor.
Bringing together Harman Kardon’s experience in speaker design, Alexa’s voice service, and the benefits of portability, the Allure Portable provides a rich, captivating listening experience, featuring 20W 2 x 1.75 inch full-range drivers and 2 passive radiators. The device has 2 built-in microphones and advanced noise cancellation technology, and supports wireless Bluetooth streaming, or up to 96KHz/24bits of Wi-Fi audio streaming from the cloud.
Just like the original Harman Kardon Allure, the new portable device is hands free and controlled by voice commands. Far-field voice technology allows users to issue commands from across the room, whether at home, in a hotel or at the office, and still be heard clearly by the speaker. Featuring premium materials, including a steel speaker grill and a semi-transparent top cover, the Allure Portable offers a charging cradle and 10 hours of battery life, allowing users to take this voice activated speaker with them everywhere.
Harman Kardon Allure Portable with Amazon Alexa ($199) will be available for purchase starting spring 2018 on the company's website and amazon.com. The Harman Kardon Allure ($249.95), announced at IFA 2017, is also available for purchase now.
JBL New Everest Headphones with Google Assistant
At CES 3018, Harman also announced the launch of the JBL Everest 710GA, 310GA and 110GA headphones. The around-ear, on-ear and in-ear premium wireless models are all optimized for use with Google's Assistant. After an easy setup on Bluetooth enabled smartphones and tablets, the JBL Everest GA headphones, are ready to provide easy and quick assistance, whenever and wherever it’s needed. Now featuring the Google Assistant, users can take full control of their music experience with the use of voice control and receive notifications without needing to look at their smartphone or tablet.
To access Google's Assistant, users just have to download the Assistant on their smartphones, connect the headphone, and then simply touch the sensors located on the ear cup. Once activated, listeners can control volume, get access to meetings and events, and enjoy tracks on-the-go by stating simple phrases like, “volume up/down,” “tell me about my day” or “play pop music.”
The wireless headphones' long-lasting battery provides for 8 to 25 hours of use, depending on the model. Additionally, a quick recharge feature enables users to quickly juice up the battery to maximum capacity. To support hours of comfortable listening, the Everest GA headphones are ergonomically-designed, with the on-ear and around-ear models incorporating a specially-curved headband to eliminate pressure on the ears, while the ear cushions are expertly crafted with lightweight, memory-foam materials to maintain an effortless fit. Depending on the model, the wireless series offers a variety of on-trend metallic shades including Gunmetal and Mountain Silver.
The JBL Everest 710GA, Everest 310GA and Everest 110GA will be available on JBL.com and at select retailers starting spring 2018.
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