General, Research, Technology

Which speaker column to buy a voice assistant?

Have you noticed that the word “smart” is now attributedabsolutely to everything? Smart alarm clock, smart light bulb, smart socket, smart home in the end. In this regard, the speakers have not yet become so massively “smart”, although they are much smarter than other gadgets, as they have assistants that allow you to not only listen to music and receive information, but even manage the rest of the smart gadgets. I have been using Yandex.Station for a long time, and a couple of months ago I got its counterpart from LG. At the beginning, the gadget surprised me a little, but now everything fell into place. I have something to tell about these two columns.

The correct form of such a column will fit into any interior.

Experience using speakers with voice assistants

I have been using the station from the first day of its sales. I came to the Yandex Museum, defended a relatively small line and bought a new gadget for me at that time. Before that, I used different columns - from Amazon Echo to Google Home and HomePod. I did not like literally everything, from appearance to sound and features. Even the HomePod, which is objectively very cool in sound, disappointed with its Siri, which was not localized and could not even turn on Russian music. Now it is with her with difficulty, but it turns out. But a little wiser would not hurt her.

Against this background, Alice seemed perfect. To the best of the daring, savvy, knows how to play simple games and build dialogs. It would seem that what else is needed? I wanted to build some kind of infrastructure on this system. That is why I grabbed the opportunity to buy a finished column with Alice inside.

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Having bought a column, I was among those who did not waterher filth. You can’t say that I liked her sound - it just sounded. The sound was approximately at the speaker level for 5000-6000 rubles. If we subtract from the cost of the station itself the equivalent value of the gifts that were given to it, approximately this amount was obtained.

In the end, everything was not bad, but the sediment remained. I rarely listened to music from the speaker, choosing something more serious for this, and Stations assigned the function of a voice assistant and a music source in case of laziness that prevented me from taking my phone and turning on Bluetooth.

The column is sold in such a box.

The second stage of our relationship began when Yandexstarted producing gadgets for home automation (I don't like the word “smart”). I bought a few pieces and enjoyed using them, even prescribed scripts - this is really very easy. But relatively recently, LG introduced its version of the column with Alice, which was both predictable and unexpected at the same time.

Experience using the LG Xboom AI ThinQ WK7Y

The first half hour of ownership of the column in my head spun only one question ... Why was it called that? It looks like a warning on the site - “LG Xboom AI ThinQ” is already taken, try a different name.

Short brand name and long model name.

Then I started to relate to him easier and even insearching just wrote “LG Alice”. Looking ahead, I’ll say that I advised this column and advise everyone who asks what to buy with an assistant, except for the expensive HomePod.

Contents of delivery.

The speaker package is ascetic as possible and,in addition to the gadget itself, it includes only a power adapter and a couple of pieces of paper with instructions and a guarantee. But, as soon as you open the box, inside lies instructions for connecting and configuring.

With such an instruction, it is impossible to make a mistake when setting up.

When you look at the column itself, it arisesthe feeling that its creator was inspired by Yandex.Station, but wanted to stand out. This is not bad, just the appearance pushes such associations. All due to the fact that the design is also made in the form of a regular geometric figure. Then it was a box, and now a cylinder. Therefore, it seems that the main idea is preserved, but implemented in its own way. By the way, due to the cylindrical shape, it may seem that the speakers are arranged in a circle, but this is not so.

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The case is covered with a net, but it cannot be removed. It is difficult to damage it, but I did not find any strong contaminants in a couple of months of use. But he separately noted for himself that the power connector is not on the back wall, but under the bottom. A special cutout is provided for cable output. Everything looks very neat and holistic.

The cable gently comes out from under the housing.

The HDMI connector for connecting to the TV is gone. That is, the LG Xboom AI ThinQ WK7Y cannot be used as a media player. This has its drawbacks, but for me personally, the biggest drawback is that the external output has not appeared. He is sorely lacking.

There are indicators on the front of the column thatdisplay work when you do not see the top panel. It has its own multi-color indicator, which shows the status of the network connection and the assistant's operating mode.

Indicators will show in which mode the column is working.

Touch control, and buttons canstart / stop music, change volume, call assistant and switch Bluetooth mode. There is also a microphone mute button, but it is located very modestly behind. She is hardly even visible.

The mute button is not so easy to find.

You can call the assistant either with a button orvoice, which is more logical. For perception, there are two microphones on the case and they work no worse than Yandex.Stations. Commands are read well from anywhere in the room. You can even turn to an electronic girl in a whisper. True, she will give the answer in an ordinary voice. She cannot whisper like Alexa.

In general, there are no complaints against Alice herself. It's nice that it develops and gets better over time. It is immediately clear that they did not abandon her and really try to work with her. New features are not always obvious, but they are, and sometimes come in handy. For example, not so long ago she learned to turn on the radio. Sometimes music bothers me and I want some variety. Now it is possible.

With regard to errors, I and the Station had a couplecases when the column, standing under the TV, turned on from some kind of sound and began to argue in dialogue mode with the commentator of a football match. That was fun.

In the case of LG, the error was once, but very muchunusual. At one point, I was listening to the radio and the words “Alice's band” sounded. The speaker went silent and went into listening mode. When I asked to continue playback, she left this mode. To be honest, I thought that the column analyzes the sounds emanating from it, and does not respond to itself. It turned out not analyzing.

I definitely liked that the column couldplay music at low volume. Here all the same divisions from one to ten, as before, but the first division is quieter. In the case of Yandex.Station, I sometimes wanted to make the volume even lower, but it didn’t work out anymore. This sometimes also occurs here, but overall the picture has become better.

You can control the volume with voice or touch buttons on the top panel.

To the most important question about sound quality, I justI’ll answer that he has become better. Not on my head, but better. Low frequencies appeared, and the picture itself became more balanced. HomePod is still far away, but you can live. Although, you still should not treat the gadget as a source of loud sound. I have it on the table and I have enough volume to ask me to turn on the music during work and not cause a desire to connect the smartphone to other speakers. At a low volume, the sound is very decent, although I would like more volume.

Meridian participated in the creation of the column. Sounds impressive.

For a sufficiently high sound qualitythank the partnership between LG and Meridian. Together, they were able to somehow adjust the sound so that it sounded as decently as possible for its price category. They did it.

If we talk about a combination of factors, and not about somethingone, the LG Xboom AI ThinQ WK7Y speaker is a good example of what a similar accessory should be. It is relatively inexpensive, an intelligent assistant lives in it and it has a decent sound for its price. It all came together.

Three months subscription as a gift.

For example, the sound from the speaker from LG is better than the solution fromYandex. But the “search engine” generously pours gifts in the form of subscriptions to various services and can connect to the TV (I used this only once). Personally, I would rather choose a sound, but it's up to you. Moreover, the appearance is also different. Here, it’s not strange, the solution from Yandex seems to me more impressive. At least until the column is in a protective casing.

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Which smart speaker to choose?

To paraphrase Vladimir Mayakovsky, I want tosay: “After turning over the review, wrap it around the mustache - all the speakers are good, choose to taste.” So it is - everything has its advantages. Even the Amazon Echo and Google Home that I mentioned have their own competitive advantages, they are just not tailored to our market. Of the columns with the assistant, the solutions with Alice are most suitable for us. There are only two full-fledged columns with it, and I mentioned both in this experience of use.

You read my opinion above. It can be taken as advice, but I can also advise before buying, listen to other opinions and weigh all the factors. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between.