(Pocket-lint) - They are all at it. Sony is one of the latest companies to announce a smart home speaker with Google Assistant built-in, joining the likes of Panasonic and Onyko.
Sony's LF-S50G doesn't have the catchiest name, but it's a pretty good looking speaker and smart too. Here are our first impressions of Sony's answer to Google Home and Apple HomePod.
Sony LF-S50G preview: Design
- Circular, 360-degree design
- Metal base, premium look
- IPX3 rated with water-repellant coating
- Three colours options
The Sony LF-S50G has a similar design to Apple's HomePod, only it's a little taller and it adds a little more detailing to its base compared to Apple's smart speaker. The Sony LF-S50G is subtle in its design though, offering 360-degree sound so it doesn't matter where you put it, or which room you put it in.
At the top is a plastic circular disc that sits flush to the speaker and features lit-up controls for the speaker. The base of the speaker meanwhile is metal, delivering a premium finish. It's not too large of a base either, making for a nice balance between the speaker itself and its design elements.
Almost central to the LF-S50G speaker are LED lights indicating the time, while four LED circles appear above the time when Google Assistant is activated or listening. At the very top of the speaker, close to the controls, users will also be greeted with a circular ring that will glow when an action is taking place, such as the track being skipped or the volume being reduced.
The Sony LF-S50G speaker comes in black, white and blue, all of which have a base respective of the main speaker colour. The design is simple, sophisticated and it is small enough to blend into a home, rather than stand out like Amazon Echo does. It also has an IPX3-rating and a water repellent coating so it can be placed in the kitchen or bathroom, as well as the living room or any other room you fancy it in.
You can connect the LF-S50G to your phone via Bluetooth, or NFC if your device supports it.
Sony LF-S50G preview: Features
- Google Assistant built-in
- Control without touch
- Alarm clock functionality
The biggest feature of the Sony LF-S50G is Google Assistant. With Google's voice assistant integrated, users can ask the speaker a manner of questions, ask it to remind you of upcoming events and control various other smart devices around your home.
Starting with "OK Google", you can ask the speaker to play a certain artist, turn the volume up or down, ask how the weather is, or even ask it something like how to make Chinese dumplings.
If you have other Google Assistant devices, such as a Sony TV with it built-in, a YouTube video showing how to make the dumplings could then appear and you can ask the speaker to turn up the volume or down on the TV, for example.
The speaker can also be controlled without voice. A wave across the top of the device will skip a track and you can also use gestures over the top to adjust the volume too.
There is also an alarm clock functionality on the LF-S50G.
Sony LF-S50G preview: Sound quality and hardware
- Full range speaker driver
- Separate subwoofer
The Sony LF-S50G delivers 360-degree sound, as we mentioned previously. In terms of hardware, it has a full range speaker driver for mid-range vocals and high trebles, while a separate subwoofer handles the low-end bass.
We saw the speaker in action at the IFA consumer electronics trade show but given it was a trade show with a lot of hustle and bustle, we couldn't tell how well the Sony LF-S50G performs in terms of sound quality.
Google Assistant appeared to work well and although there was a slight delay on some occasions, this could be down to the speaker not being able to hear the command through the trade show noise so we won't judge this element yet either.
The Sony LF-S50G speaker has a lovely design. It's small, it's subtle and based on our experience with it, it appears to manage to produce a decent sound from its compact body.
The metal base gives it a premium appeal, while the integration of Google Assistant makes this sophisticated-looking speaker smart too.
Several companies have announced speakers with Google Assistant built-in at consumer electronics show IFA, but we like the LF-S50G and we're excited about trying out the Sony LF-S50G speaker in the real world to see how it performs.
It will be available from November for £200.