One of the key highlights from this year’s Google IO developer conference was the announcement that the first Google Smart Displays would be launching in July of this year. Smart Displays, with their built-in screens and Google Assistants, are Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo Show and an evolution of the voice-only Google Assistant speakers like the Google Home and Google Home Mini.
Surprisingly absent from Google IO was Polk, who has today just announced a Google smart speaker of its own - albeit one without a built-in display.
The speaker is called the Polk Assist and it shares a striking resemblance to the canister-shaped JBL Link 20 in that it has a mesh covering along the sides and front of the speaker and a set of control buttons and speaker array on the top lid.
Beyond simply building Google Assistant into the speaker, the Polk Assist will also support Chromecast Built-in, allowing you to group the speaker up for multi-room playback and Cast audio streams to the Assist from your mobile device or PC.
Polk says the speaker will be available starting in June of this year in the U.S. and will be priced at $199 (around £150, AU$265).
Is Polk’s Google Home alternative coming too late?
While another addition to the ever-expanding family of Google Assistant smart speakers is always welcomed, one has to wonder if Polk’s latest venture into voice assistants is coming a bit too late - JBL had speakers with Google Assistant late last year, as did Sony with the Sony LF-S50G.
The fact that other third-party manufacturers are gearing up to release smart displays might mean that Polk’s voice-only addition could fall on deaf ears by the time it actually hits store shelves in June.
That being said, it’s unfair to discount a speaker - especially one as feature-rich as the Polk Assist - before we’ve had a chance to hear it and we'll therefore save our thoughts until we’ve had a chance to do so.
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Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.