Harman Kardon’s Astra aims to be a HomePod alternative for Alexa fans

Harman Kardon has used MWC 2018 to unveil its latest offering, a smart speaker that offers high quality audio, and houses Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa.

No one could ever accuse Amazon’s smart speaker range of being underdeveloped. There’s the Echo (both in its original version and the 2017 edition), the Echo Plus (which offers smart home hub functionality and better audio), the Dot (which is little), the Show (which has a screen), the Spot (which is little and has a screen), and the forgotten cousin Look (which gives you fashion advice).

But even the Echo Plus with its improved audio is no match for Apple’s HomePod with its vast array of tweeters and clever algorithmic calibration that manages directional audio and bass levels.

Going toe-to-toe with serious heavyweights 

So Apple has the HomePod and Google has the Google Home Max, which houses its voice assistant (the imaginatively named Google Assistant). At the moment, the best option for Alexa fans who want a better quality of audio for their music, podcasts and audiobooks is the (very impressive) Sonos One.

Harman Kardon’s offering is a partnership with wireless device specialists Brightstar, and offers three 0.75-inch dome tweeters, two passive radiators and three 1.75-inch full-range transducers.

This isn’t the first smart speaker available from Harman Kardon; the Invoke came out in 2017, and was met with a mixed response, but mostly due to it housing Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortana. 

It will be interesting to see if the combination of Harmon’s expertise in audio and Amazon’s industry-leading voice assistant will make the Astra a hit. At the moment there’s no news about exact price or release date, but it’s expected around the middle of 2018.

Via Digital Trends

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.