According to Google, the company has been selling Home speakers at a rate of more than one per second since the Home Mini was released late last year. That's an incredible statistic, and it doesn't even take into account Assistant speakers from third-parties that have been available since last fall. Last year, we learned about devices from Mobvoi, Panasonic, Sony, and Anker's Zolo sub-brand. They were clearly the tip of the iceberg.
CES 2018 in Las Vegas has been awash with new Assistant products as Google takes the fight to Amazon's Alexa. Even the monorail has been taken over by Assistant branding. Google is getting serious. New Assistant-enabled products have included all new smart displays, Android Auto units, and yet more speakers. We've already looked at alarm clock speakers from SōLIS, Jensen, and iHome, but what about the proper Assistant speakers heading our way? Let's take a look...
Altec Lansing GVA Speaker Series
I have a soft spot for Altec Lansing owing to an old pair of dirt cheap desktop speakers I bought many years ago that are still going strong and are connected to a Chromecast Audio. For the money, they sound great, so I'm hopeful the company's GVA Series of Assistant speakers will similarly impress.
There are three models in the range. The $129.99 GVA1 is the cheapest and looks a bit like a Sonos Play:1. It's got Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and has a range of 50 feet, plus multi-room pairing up to 50 speakers. The slightly pricier GVA3 ($149.99) does all that, too, and with its carry handle and 10-hour battery life it's meant to be moved around. Finally, the GVA4 is the premium option. $199.99 gets an LED time screen, 100-foot range, and a QI wireless charger for your phone (which you've obviously always wanted in a speaker).
All three Altec Lansing speakers are due out sometime in Q2 or Q3 2018. Check out the site for more.
Anker Zolo Model Zero
Anker Innovations sub-brand Zolo has already taken on the true wireless earbud category with its Liberty series and also launched the Mojo Assistant speaker, which is about the size and quality of the original Google Home. Next up in its premium lineup will be the Model Zero, a radial, portable speaker with Dolby Audio and Google Assistant built-in.
The design values are high, and if the price isn't too lofty this could challenge the recently released Google Home Max in the premium smart audio sector. Pricing and availability will be announced in the coming months.
Bang & Olufsen
Less a product announcement, more a statement of intent. B&O hasn't said anything but the company is included on Google's list of upcoming Assistant speaker manufacturers so you can bet there's something in the pipeline. Expect something along the lines of a Beoplay M3 or M5 updated to allow for voice control. They will be pricey, no doubt, but they will most likely look and sound great.
Braven Villa Connect
Lesser-known but award-winning US company Braven will also be joining the premium Assistant speaker ranks with the Villa Connect. Like the top-end Altec Lansing model, it will cost just £199.99, and it includes multi-room Wif-Fi audio plus far-field microphones so it can hear you from across the room.
The Villa Connect is penned for a Q2 release when it will be available on Braven.com and at retailers around the US.
Audiophile equipment-maker Klipsch has collaborated with smart audio company Frontier to bring the Google Assistant to two of its popular models. The pretentiously named "The One" and "The Three", from the Heritage Wireless range, will be getting the Assistant with upgraded hardware costing $349 and $499, respectively.
That's a lot of money, which in the case of The One gets you a 30W speaker with an 8-hour rechargeable battery for what Klipsch calls a "semi-portable stereo speaker." The Three is a 60W monster of a 2.1 stereo speaker, and both will utilize Frontier's SmartSDK for voice tech.
No information on availability was given by Klipsch, so we'll have to wait and see.
LG is on Google's list, but their ThinQ Assistant speaker (above) was actually announced at the end of last month. It looks much like any other Wi-Fi speaker, maybe a little sleeker than most, but interestingly LG says it will have hi-res audio.
There are other names mentioned by Google, but there's little information on the new products. The mysterious Knit Audio seems to have no presence on the web other than its website, but its current crop of budget speakers all look quite nice. Memorex and RIVA Audio are also named, but there's no information on what they're planning, so we'll just have to keep our ears to the ground.