Intrigued by the functionality of Google's Pixel Buds, but unconvinced by the form factor? LG's got you. The Korean manufacturer has announced two new additions to its collar-style Tone line of in-ear headphones: the Ultra SE, which features an external speaker, and the Platinum SE, which has Google Assistant functionality, including Pixel Buds-style real-time translation, built in.

The Assistant-equipped Platinum model comes with a hardware button for accessing audio help. LG touts the buds' real-time translation feature, which Google previously leaned on heavily as an exclusive selling point for Pixel Buds. The Tone Ultra doesn't have Assistant built in, but does feature an external speaker so "users can make calls and listen to music without blocking out ambient sounds" (or: so users can bother everyone on public transportation).

LG will be showing the new buds at IFA from August 31 to September 5, so if you're near Berlin and you're really into Bluetooth earbuds, go check 'em out. Pricing and availability haven't yet been announced.

Press Release

SEOUL, Aug. 21, 2018 — The latest and most advanced wearable wireless audio products from LG Electronics (LG) will be unveiled at IFA 2018, highlighted by LG TONE Platinum SE (model HBS-1120) with a dedicated Google Assistant button and LG TONE Ultra SE (model HBS-835S) featuring an external speaker.

The LG TONE Platinum SE is the first TONE model to offer Google Assistant and real time translation at the press of a button with Google Translate. Users can activate Google Assistant without having to first say “OK Google” for access to faster, more responsive AI. This benefit become apparent when using services such as Google Translate. Without the need to always invoke a trigger phrase, communicating in another language is faster and more natural.

LG audio engineers developed a hybrid unit consisting of a balanced armature and a dynamic driver, a combination usually found in-ear units used by professional musicians. The balanced armature unit generates clear high-frequency sound while the dynamic drivers deliver robust bass. LG’s newest earphones are available in black, blue and gold.

Another new device, LG TONE Ultra SE, features an external mono speaker in addition to earbuds. With the external speaker, users can make calls and listen to music without blocking out ambient sounds, ideal when one needs to be aware of the surroundings. Both the LG TONE Platinum SE and LG TONE Ultra SE feature dual MEMS microphone for superb call clarity and support for the Tone & Talk smartphone app.

“LG brought a new paradigm to wearable audio products with smart features of our successful TONE series and we continue to innovate with our latest models,” said Kim Tae-gyun, head of LG’s Companion Device Business Division. “We are committed to delivering more great wearable audio products to consumers worldwide.”

Visitors to LG’s IFA booth in Hall 18 of Messe Berlin from August 31 to September 5 will have a chance to experience the TONE series of earphones up close. Additional details including price and purchase locations will be announced locally at the time of availability.

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  • LG