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Wireless & Bluetooth Speakers

Sony's new voice-enabled speaker cheaper than Apple's HomePod

The LF-S50G Wireless Speaker with Google Assistant resembles Apple's upcoming speaker, but costs $150 less.

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If you think you're looking at Apple's upcoming HomePod speaker, you're not. This is actually Sony's new voice-controlled smart speaker, the LF-S50G, which has Google Assistant built-in, not Siri. It ships in October for $200 (£200, AU$299), $150 less than Apple's smart speaker.

Like the HomePod, the LF-S50G will come in two colors, work on your WiFi ($95 at Amazon) network and have to be plugged into a power outlet to be used -- there's no battery option. It also has Bluetooth so you can pair an audio device directly to it if you want.

You simply say "OK Google" to access the voice assistant and give it commands to start playing music, turn up the volume or skip to the next track. Like Amazon's Alexa-enabled speakers, you can link your Spotify account to it.

Sony's speaker costs more than the Google Home speaker but sounds better.

David Carnoy/CNET

You can also ask for a weather forecast or traffic information, set a timer while cooking, or control smart devices such as lights and thermostats.

While the speaker is compact it's designed to fill a medium-sized room with sound. I thought it played loud for its size and delivered a decent amount of bass. It clearly sounded better and delivered richer sound than the Google Home ($129 at Walmart) speaker. Similar to the HomePod, it has a 360-degree, vertical two-way facing speaker system with a dedicated subwoofer that's designed to spread sound in all directions.

The speaker has a built in clock, which is nice, and on top of those voice controls you can also use gesture controls to begin playing music, skip tracks or adjust the volume. Finally, the speaker is splash-proof and its grill is removable and washable, so if you spill anything on it in the kitchen, it cleans up well. 

We'll have a full review of the LF-S50G as soon as we get our hands on a review sample.

The speaker in black. It ships in October.


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