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Onkyo's VC-FLX1 may be the first smart speaker that actually sounds good

The Onkyo VC-FLX1 Flex smart speaker offers a laundry list of smart home features but its biggest selling feature could be the company's audio background.

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Ty Pendlebury
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Ty Pendlebury

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Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

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Onkyo hopes their Amazon Echo-like speaker will make audiophiles happy.

Onkyo

In the 80s, it was digital clocks in everything. Then in the 00s, it was MP3s. Could Amazon's Alexa voice assistant in everything be this decade's new trend?

The ability to control your home with a voice-activated speaker is one of the most interesting technologies to enter the home in the past few years, and the Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo is at the forefront.

While we're likely to see a lot of these products at CES 2017, one of the first out of the gates is the Onkyo VC-FLX1 which not only incorporates Alexa but also includes an integrated home security camera. But why would you consider this over a host of other potential Swiss Army Knives? One would hope that it's sound quality.

While we love the technology in both the Amazon Echo and the Google Home, the problem is they are pretty lousy as music speakers. Most companies' solution is "use the speaker to control our better sounding one," which is kind of kludgy. However, with Onkyo's long heritage in audio, you'd hope they could finally fix this with the new "Flex."

First impressions aren't so encouraging at first, as it looks very similar to the Echo. However, Onkyo says it offers "High-quality music playback via proprietary full range speaker driver."

The speaker also includes temperature and humidity sensors, which can be monitored with the use of a third-party smartphone app (not specified).

As a music device, it also includes built-in Wi-Fi with a "wide variety of network music services" and Bluetooth capabilities.

Onkyo has yet to announce availability or pricing on the VC-FLX1.

Check out all the smart home products at CES 2017 (so far)

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