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Monday, May 7, 2018

Como Audio Launches SpeakEasy, a Google Speaker That Actually Sounds Good

Como Audio Launches SpeakEasy, a Google Speaker That Actually Sounds Good

Como Audio introduced the SpeakEasy at a press event in Manhattan on May 1, 2018. The speaker is available in Walnut (right), Hickory (left), Gloss White and Gloss Black finishes.
One of the rites of spring as a New York City tech journalist is seeing what industry veteran Tom DeVesto is up to. As a fixture of the CE industry for over 40 years, Tom always seems to be founding a new company, or working on a cool new device that makes it easier for people to enjoy their favorite music wherever they happen to be. And in the spring, Tom usually organizes a press event to share his latest project with the world.

Tom's latest company is Como Audio, maker of compact powered speaker systems that allow the user to access their favorite music from a variety of sources. And the feature of this year's event was Como Audio's latest speaker, the SpeakEasy. SpeakEasy is a powered speaker with built-in microphones that allow  you to find and play music using spoken commands. Sound familiar? It should, as there are a few (or a few dozen) products like it already on the market. So what makes SpeakEasy different? It actually sounds good. Oh, and it's also easy to use. Imagine that.

Date - 2018-05-01, the company officially announced the SpeakEasy and opened a Kickstarter project to fund its development. For 48 hours, early backers can pre-order the SpeakEasy in a walnut finish for $199.99, which is significantly cheaper than the suggested list price of $349.99. After the 48 hour flash sale, backers will still be able to get the product at a discount (albeit a smaller discount), until the goal is reached and the unit nears production.

As far as the voice control aspect goes, the SpeakEasy includes built-in support for Google Assistant. There are two top mounted microphones for capturing your voice, (one for near the other for far). With a few spoken commands, you can adjust volume, play music, pick songs and control compatible devices such as alarms, lighting and climate controls. And since it's Google, you can also ask it for local weather, news and traffic, or virtually any other question under the sun.

Como Audio founder Tom DeVesto describes the company's suite of products at a press event at the NoMad Hotel in Manhattan on May 1, 2018.
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For music access, you can link the SpeakEasy to your Google Play or Spotify account (among other streaming services). There's also internet radio on board so you can add local or international stations to your list of favorites. OK Google, so you don't repeat yourself there are four LED's on board to let you know when your Assistant is thinking. And like all Como Audio products, there's a visible clock so you won't have to keep asking Google what time it is.

As far as support for that other voice assistant (Amazon Alexa), the company has no current plans to expand the voice control capabilities of the SpeakEasy to integrate directly with Amazon's platform. However, the company is planning to roll out a software upgrade to all of its current speakers (including the SpeakEasy) to respond to commands from Amazon Alexa devices. The upcoming Alexa skill for Como Audio speakers will allow you to use an Amazon Echo or Dot to play music on a Como Audio speaker. So you could tell the Amazon dot on your bedside table, or the Amazon Echo in your kitchen to "Play WNYC on Bedroom" and Alexa will route the audio to your preferred Como Audio speaker anywhere in your home for enhanced sound quality. The company is also adding Amazon Music as a streaming source to its top of the line "Musica" system.

Going... Going... Gone!

In terms of portability, the Speakeasy does require a power source. The speaker comes with a standard 110V or 240V power cable, depending on your local market. There is also a portable option via an optional battery pack. The SpeakEasy features a rear port that enhances bass response and also doubles as a handle so it's easy to transport from room to room.

Como Audio's SpeakEasy includes Google Assistant on board for control of whole home automation or simple voice access to your favorite music.
The time is displayed on the front panel which includes a photocell sensor that adjusts the back light to ambient light conditions. In case you don't feel like chatting, front panel buttons and dials are also included to control volume, turn on and off the microphone, play, pause and skip through your favorite stations or tracks. Bluetooth 4.2 support is included if you want to play music or sound from your phone or tablet. There's also a USB 5V/1A output for keeping that device charged. The Speakeasy is Como Audio's first speaker to include build in Chromecast support (for multi-room playback), but the company says that a simple Chromecast Audio dongle will allow any of their current products to join in and play along in the Google Home universe.

The SpeakEasy is petite but solidly built, measuring in at 9.4 x 4.9 x 5 inches. If we could look inside, we'd find a 3-inch custom dual voice coil woofer and a 3/4-inch reinforced polymer fiber soft dome tweeter. The company takes advantage of DSP equalization and a beefy 25-watt amplifier to make beautiful music. And since the company's goal is to reproduce music realistically and accurately, they offer a companion speaker ($129.99) that plugs into the Speakeasy for true stereo sound reproduction.

The company expects to begin shipping the Speakeasy to Kickstarter backers this November, with a general retail offering to follow immediately after. The SpeakEasy will be available in a real walnut wood veneer for $349 as well as Hickory, Piano Black or Gloss White for $399.

The Kickstarter 48-hour flash sale for early backers ends on May 3rd at 1 PM Eastern Time. So if it sounds interesting, you might want to get in early for the best deal. The company's previous Kickstarter efforts both came in well over their goals and delivered products to backers earlier than promised, and that's rare indeed.

View the original article here

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