SIDEBAR Spring 2018 - 8

MONTGOMERYBAR.ORG

By Joel B. Bernbaum, Esq.

W

ith all the noise seeking our
attention - email, texts, cable
news, Facebook, Twitter,
etc. - I became aware of the trend among
Amazon, Apple, Google, and others to
introduce the so-called "smart" speaker.
Unless you live underground, you have
heard of Alexa, Siri or other platforms
being rolled out in what the New York
Times describes as potentially the next
computer platform (i.e. IOS or Android).
Taking all of this into account,
I decided to treat myself to the next
computer platform from Amazon. During
the holidays, the discounts were steep
and the products heavily promoted. The
"Alexa" series of smart speakers ranges from
the Echo Dot ($49) to the Echo View
($200). To my surprise, I really like Alexa
and enjoy owning one. This was especially
true when Alexa picked the Eagles to win
the Super Bowl...and it came true!
These speakers are designed to "wake
up" and respond to a spoken word or
phrase such as "Alexa," "Hey Siri," or
a customized name or greeting of your
choice. They are promoted as being always
on - listening for your voice commands. I have not seen or read
any confidentiality issues, but conspiracy theories exist. The other
major features vary depending on the brand, but at this time you
can control your lights, thermostats, door locks, garage doors, etc.
Keep in mind, many of these "smart" features require the purchase
of a separate piece of hardware - a hub - which acts as a link
between your smart speaker and smart electronics.
The designs are similar with Google and Amazon having the
smallest models. The largest are from Apple and Sonos One. It
is important to do your homework and visit a store or research

8 SIDEBAR

online to decide what works best for you.
Right now, the features that work best for
me are listening to music, podcasts, news,
information or other fun stuff like "tell me
a joke."
My Amazon Echo provides me with
daily news updates, weather reports, sports
information, trivia questions and much
more. The music feature draws from the
major music streaming services, including
Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and
more.
The coolest thing is that these devices
really do work. Say: "Alexa play Michael
Jackson" and in seconds, a Michael Jackson
mix starts playing. No more waiting or
fumbling looking for website links, etc.
Need movie times? Alexa will help. Need
to find a restaurant? Alexa will help. How
about a recipe? Yep, Alexa does that too!
Sonos One has Alexa built-in. If you
want truly great sound throughout the
home, the ability to couple more than one
speaker for true stereo or to play music in
more than one room, Sonos One (currently
$175 or $300 for two) is for you.
The HomePod from Apple sounds
great with rumbling bass and the ability to play your Apple music.
Apple's Siri is not as robust as Amazon's Alexa, but I am sure future
upgrades will level the playing field. The price for the HomePod,
at $350, is at the top of the list, but if you are entrenched in the
Apple ecosystem, this may be your choice. I expect now that
Apple's HomePod is available, things will speed up even more with
Siri improvements.
Smart speakers are one of the hottest items in home technology
these days and the competitive market means continued
innovation and increased affordability.


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SIDEBAR Spring 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SIDEBAR Spring 2018

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2019-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARFall2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2018-19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARFall2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/LRSINSIGHT
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2017-18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2017
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com