BRAVEN Outs Its First Google Assistant Smart Speaker – CES 2018

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BRAVEN Audio just entered the Google Assistant smart speaker market at this year's CES with its first product in the category called the Villa Connect. As expected, the smart speaker offers voice recognition capabilities backed by Google's AI and built-in far-field microphones, and with Wi-Fi integration, the unit can be paired with additional speakers and create a network throughout one's home. The BRAVEN Villa Connect has a rectangular box shape with fabric covering the speaker itself, and presents top-mounted controls for Bluetooth connectivity, raising or lowering the volume, and activating the virtual assistant.

Evidently, being a smart speaker powered by the Google Assistant, the Villa Connect can be voice-controlled using the "Hey, Google" phrase and users can ask for information ranging from calendar appointments to weather, finance, current events, traffic and so on. Likewise, users can rely on their voices to set timers, stream music from popular services or playing favorite playlists and request rides. Lastly, the smart speaker can be used to control compatible smart home devices through the Google Assistant, including thermostats, LED lights and switches. Unsurprisingly, the unit will need to be set up using the Google Home smartphone application available on Android and iOS, and as far as pricing is concerned, the BRAVEN Villa Connect will launch for $199.99. This places it between two of Google's own smart speaker solutions, namely the Google Home – available for $129 in the United States – and the larger Google Home Max which carries a price tag of $399. Other hardware specifications remain unknown as of this writing, so it's unclear whether the Villa Connect will feature a single speaker or a couple of drivers like the larger Google Home Max.

The Villa Connect represents the company's first entry in the smart speaker market powered by the Google Assistant, though previously the OEM had launched a similar solution powered by Amazon Alexa. The smart speaker market continues to grow in the wake of new releases, with recent industry research suggesting that this particular market segment will continue to expand and reach revenues of $10 billion in 2020, representing tremendous growth from the estimated $2.5 billion generated in 2017.

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