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Smart Home

iHome's Alexa speakers can take a beating at CES 2019

The portable smart speakers will sync with your phone to answer your questions.

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This rugged Alexa speaker is rubberized. Don't worry about dropping it. 

iHome

While Amazon's assistant Alexa is built into all kinds of different smart speakers, not many are portable. iHome is giving Alexa that much more versatility at CES 2019. The audio company debuted two new Alexa smart speakers called AMA speakers. Both are battery powered. One, the iBT621, changes colors. The other, named the iBT158, is built to be extra rugged.

Unlike an ordinary Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon) smart speaker, both are tap-to-talk instead of always listening. That allows them to save battery. They also use bluetooth to talk to Alexa through your phone, instead of connecting directly to Wi-Fi, which allows you to take them to the park or pool without needing to find a router to give them a voice command.

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You can customize the colors to match your party decor. 

iHome

The tap-to-talk feature made me dislike the Amazon Tap ($130 at Amazon) when it first came out. Hitting a button wasn't as convenient as just talking. The Tap could connect to the cloud remotely using your phone as a hotspot, but these iHome AMA's take an easier route through Bluetooth, so they could be more convenient.

You can customize the colors of the iBT621 for an extra decorative touch. The iBT158 is weather, water and dustproof. It's also rubberized so you can drop it without much worry. The colorful speaker will cost $60 (roughly converting to £45, AU$85) and the weatherproof model will be $80 (roughly £60, AU$110) when both come out later this winter.

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