Amazon's mission to get its Alexa voice-activated assistant in any gadget with a speaker continues apace, with CES seeing the AI helper pop up in a relatively unexpected place – within a soundbar.
Polk Audio's Command Bar has Alexa built directly into it. It's even got the four-button Alexa hardware buttons that you'd see on top of an Amazon Echo device. You'll be able to use voice commands to control audio settings such as volume and and mute, but also to make all the requests you'd usually make of an Alexa-enabled device, from streaming songs from your favorite music player to controlling smart home devices.
With Alexa deeply integrated within Amazon's Fire TV streaming platform, the Command Bar makes specific provision for Amazon's Fire TV stick device, with a space built specifically to fit Fire TV devices and a USB port to power them.
Audio and visual boxes ticked
As well as featuring Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the far-field mic equipped soundbar presents itself as a capable bit of kit in A/V terms, too.
Two 1 x 3-inch full-range drivers, two 1-inch tweeters and a ported, wireless 6.5-inch subwoofer feature under the hood, with two HDMI 2.0b, HDCP 2.2 compliant ports (supporting 4K, HDR/ HDR 10 and Dolby Vision) let it keep pace with the latest in video tech.
And, in a nice final touch, the included remote features an Alexa action button that, when pressed, briefly lowers the volume level of the soundbar, letting your voice command be heard clearly and activated from a distance – particularly useful if you're using it in a noisy, dedicated home cinema space.
Available from March 2018, the Command Bar will set you back $299.95 (roughly AU$390, or £225).