Is Belkin's Soundform Elite a smart speaker or a wireless phone charger? It's both!

Belkin's clever design finds a spot in a crowded market -- and I'm excited to get my hands on it.

David Priest Former editor
David Priest is an award-winning writer and editor who formerly covered home security for CNET.
David Priest
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It's tough to judge a speaker's quality while hundreds of reporters mill about, but Belkin's brand-new Soundform Elite smart speaker still has me hooked. Introducing the device at CES , the world's largest consumer tech show, Belkin is hoping that adding wireless phone charging will make its speaker stand out in a field dominated by the likes of Google , Amazon , Sonos, JBL and others.

Soundform's speaker itself is designed by Devialet, a company with an established history of quality speakers, and its smarts will come mostly from Google Assistant. But the coolest perk of the device is the wireless charger on top, which will work with any Qi-enabled phones  -- like most Androids and iPhones. According to Belkin, the speaker is designed specifically to suppress vibrations even while producing high quality sound, which will keep phones set atop the wireless charging cradle from rattling.

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The device will be available for $300 in Q1 of 2020, and we'll follow up to test how exactly it stands up to the competition. But for now, it seems like a compelling combination of features, and Belkin might even carve out its own slice of the smart speaker pie as we kick off the next year of smart home gadgetry.

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