While we fully expected Google to go after Amazon’s road-opening Echo and Tap smart speakers with the search giant’s own voice assistant-enabled home automation hub, and we wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see Apple follow suit before long, today’s Lenovo Smart Assistant announcement was admittedly unanticipated.
This smart home “IQ-raising” cylinder is both an Echo rival and (step) sibling, as Lenovo actually teamed up with Amazon to put Alexa’s cloud-based brains on it, including all the voice commands you’re probably familiar with for web searches, music streaming, calendar updates, and “much more.”
The “mainstream” new digital personal assistant is obviously compatible with various Lenovo smart home devices, as well as “scores of existing third-party products”, impressively featuring a grand total of eight 360-degree far-field microphones with noise suppression and acoustic echo cancellation.
These should be able to hear you loud and clear from up to 16 feet away, and speaking about loud and clear (especially clear), the Lenovo Smart Assistant comes in standard and premium Harman Kardon editions.
Both variants will begin selling in May, at $130 and $180 respectively, with available paint jobs including light gray, green and orange, plus “Harman Black.” That’s more chromatic choice than you get from Amazon’s first-party Echo, not to mention a lower non-Harman price point, and Lenovo also lists a 5W tweeter, 10W woofer, 2GB RAM, and 8GB internal storage as key Smart Assistant speaker specs. Apparently, this OEM isn’t content stealing just one of its partners’ thunder.