I have a sneaking suspicion that CES 2017 may be the year of the smart speaker, with Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana and Google Assistant popping up in a slew of third-party devices. The PC maker revealed Lenovo Smart Assistant with Amazon's Alexa built into it.
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The company has added eight 360-degree far-field microphones with noise suppression and acoustic echo cancellation to ensure that the assistant can pick up voice commands from 16 feet away.
The base model, minus the Harmon Kardon audio chops, undercuts the Echo a little at a U.S. price of $130, while the premium version sits at $170. That said, there will be a limited edition Harmon Kardon Lenovo Smart Assistant which will have a better sound system than its competitors. While functionality remains the same, what differentiates is the addition of Harman Kardon's audio expertise.
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According to Lenovo, the key difference between its new product and the Amazon predecessor is the sound quality of its speakers.
Lenovo also unveiled a hand-held controller created to make smart TV and smart home management easier at CES. A special edition developed with Harman Kardon with premium audio features will also launch in May, for United States dollars 179.99. Lenovo has stated that their speaker will include Amazon's assistant, known as Alexa, which can also be found in the Echo or Dot devices. It's unclear how Lenovo handles voice, and whether it records it. Amazon and Google have to record your questions to answer them, but you can delete the voice data. As the name probably suggests, this is essentially a Wi-Fi enabled 6TB hard drive with dual-band wireless capabilities, and multi-device auto-sync features. It comes integrated with facial recognition software that can be used to organise your photo library. New Belkin WeMo smart plugs and dimmer switches will also work with Alexa when they're available later this month.
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