Unlike Apple, those other players - Google and Amazon - are keen to leverage the system that they have built and bring connected features to range of other devices. While Alexa-equipped devices are becoming more common, the launch of the Panasonic GA10 sees Google Assistant taking on another form, with the claim that this is the first real Hi-Fi grade speaker of this type.
We got up close and personal with the new Panasonic speaker at IFA 2017.
Panasonic GA10 preview: Design
- Black of white colour options
- Aluminium and mesh
- Topped with plastic touch area
When it comes to putting things in your home, design is key. For Panasonic, that sees a tower speaker, approximately 30cm tall, but presenting a larger speaker than both Amazon and Google's existing options.
That design has been driven by looking to strike a balance between sound quality and user acceptability, slipping into the same space as the existing devices to present a standalone speaker offering that you can easily place in your kitchen, bedroom or other living areas.
The cuboid design sees the lower quarter clad in aluminium, while the top section is covered on all four sides of the body in mesh. There are two colourways, the safe silver and black mesh version is likely to be the most popular, but the light silver and white mesh is a little more distinct.
Compared to the Amazon Echo, however, the quality becomes more apparent, we at least sees variety coming into the smart speaker space, as there are a choice of designs you might choose from.
The top of the speaker is finished in plastic. This not only houses the touch controls, but also the mics, while the decision to use plastic was driven by the need to ensure that the Wi-Fi has great reception.
The design is really solid, looking like a quality speaker and adding sophistication to a sector of the market that has so far been driven by the novelty of voice control, rather than the music that you might get back from it.
Panasonic GA10 preview: Sound hardware and quality
- 2x 20mm soft dome twitters with diffusers
- 1x 80mm woofer
- 40W audio power
The serious look is to bolster the positioning of this speaker as a premium sound offering - something that Google Home and Amazon Alexa don't really accomplish.
Sitting in the heart of the GA10 is a pair of 20mm soft dome tweeters, both with diffusers on the front designed to spread the sound over a wider area. The GA10 won't claim to offer 360-degree sound, instead it aims to give you great 180-degree sound.
The tweeters are backed-up by an 80mm dual coil woofer to bring richness and substance to your music. Listening to the GA10 in a sound room on the IFA 2017 show floor, it's certainly a noticeable lift above the sound quality you'll get from current rival products.
There's 40W of power, but the best setup comes from stereo pairing. We listened to various tracks, at plenty of volume and at first listen, we're certainly impressed. You can also use Bluetooth, letting you use the GA10's smart features with another device, as well as supporting multiroom features with other Chromecast Audio or Chromecast enabled devices.
Panasonic has used dual mics to ensure that it is able to hear you over the music and we found it responded to commands and worked exactly as you' expect it to during our demo. There are more controls than you might be used to on some rival speakers, along with a LEDs to indicate the status of the speaker, and if you've muted it so it's not listening.
Panasonic GA10 preview: The Google Assistant experience
- Launches with Google Assistant
- Could expand to Alexa in the future
- Supports wider device systems like Hue, Nest
The idea behind Google Assistant is that you can easily wake it with the Ok Google command and then set off on conversational engagement with it. That will see you being able to do a whole range of things, from asking for information, to things like playing music.
Panasonic told us that the decision to go with Google came down the catalogue and services offered, although Panasonic also refused to rule out expanding the system to other services. While this doesn’t constitute confirmation, it leaves the door open for changes in the future.
Not only with Google Assistant give you access to music on demand, but will also work with other compatible systems like Philips Hue, Nest, Wemo and other connected devices.
The advantage of working with a company like Google is that as the Google Assistant universe expands, so will the scope of what a device like the GA10 will offer you.
As it is, the Panasonic GA10 is a great addition to the connected speaker world. At the moment we don't know how it will be priced, but we are expecting it to be available in the early stages of 2018.