Harman Kardon to Offer a $700 Premium Smart Speaker with Google Assistant
Harman Kardon is expected to reveal this week at IFA in Berlin a $700 premium smart speaker powered by Google Assistant. Apple turned some heads when it announced the HomePod would cost consumers $349 at a time when other smart speakers were all under $200. Then Google Home Max came out with the $399 price tag and a physical size more than twice that of other products in the segment. Last week, Bang and Olufsen announced its Beosound 1 ad 2 devices with Google Assistant for prices ranging from $1,750 – $2,250 and instantly created a super-premium smart speaker segment. So, you could view the Harman Kardon Citation 500 as double the cost of HomePod or about one-third the price of Beosound.
Power, Visual UI and Google Assistant
There is no official information on the Harman Kardon website today, but enough media outlets were leaked details to offer some insight. Pocket-lint reports that it will produce 200W and be “capable of 24Bits/96Khz high quality audio streaming. There is also a full colour LCD touch panel on the top, for manual controls.” Neither Google nor Apple report output wattage but you can bet it is far less than 200W. The LCD touch panel pictured above shows that you have both manual controls and the ability to see media information and even album art.
The Harman Kardon Citation 500 will reportedly come with Google Assistant onboard to provide access to Google Actions, Assistant for voice search and smart home integration. Harman Kardon is carving out a position as the most neutral of smart speaker makers with products that support Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Home with Bixby. It is also helping to change perceptions about what smart speaker audio fidelity should be and the price point that comes with it. This is a high end speaker that happens to have a voice assistant inside. The first generation of smart speakers were voice assistant access devices that coincidentally had speakers and could play music.