Google has announced its premium smart speaker, the $399 Google Home Max, which combines Wi-Fi streaming with the Google Assistant in a larger form factor than the company's first model.
While the Google Home Mini appears to be modeled after the Echo Dot, the Max seems to be looking past Amazon and focusing on what Sonos is doing. The new speaker fits between the $299 Play:3 and $499 in both price and size, at 13 inches across and 6 inches deep (330 by 152 mm).
The Max is a stereo speaker which supports Google's own Chromecast built-in protocol for Wi-Fi music. It offers and compatibility with dozens of apps -- specifically Android ones -- as well as the ability to work alongside "hundreds" of other products.
The rest of the specs include:
- Six onboard microphones for far-field voice control
- Two 4.5-inch (114 mm) high-excursion dual voice-coil woofers
- Two 0.7-inch (18 mm) custom tweeters
- Inputs: USB-C (for separate Ethernet and digital audio dongles), 3.5mm auxiliary, Bluetooth
- Acoustically transparent fabric in two colors: chalk and charcoal
- Silicone base
Google says the Max was developed in-house and will benefit from the integrated Smart Sound algorithm which uses the onboard microphones to adjust the speaker's sound according to where it's placed in a room. The speaker can sense its orientation -- vertical or horizontal -- and if it's been moved so it can recalibrate.
Google said the Max can also compensate for noises such as a kitchen fan by turning up its mics. However the company wasn't able to give details on how long or consistent the noise would have to be. Would a police siren trigger it, for example?
Unlike speakers like the Denon Heos 1 and the , the Max won't feature the ability to go fully wireless with an optional battery. Google representatives said the company's aim instead is for a speaker in every room.
How will the Max fare against the competitors? The market for standalone wireless speakers is pretty mature right now and Google is late to it. Of course the Max is one of the first "hi-fi" smart speakers, but its relatively high price means that customers may opt for aor even a . At $400, the Max is a considered purchase and given that the smart speakers out there so far -- including the original and the -- have been unimpressive sonically, the Max will need to do something special.
The Google Home Max will be available in the US in December with preorders starting on Nov. 3, while the rest of the world will get it in 2018. Australian and UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but the US price converts to roughly £300 or AU$510.