In a thrilling showcase of innovation, JBL proudly presents its latest Authentics speaker range, combining retro-inspired design with cutting-edge technology. These speakers promise exceptional sound quality and extensive compatibility with various streaming services. However, what sets them apart is their unique ability to seamlessly run Google Assistant and Alexa simultaneously, responding to both wake words.
While other speakers have offered individual voice assistants, the JBL Authentics series stands out by enabling both Google Assistant and Alexa to coexist, listening attentively for their respective commands. This marks a significant advancement in voice assistant technology, offering users unprecedented flexibility.
The JBL Authentics range consists of three exceptional speakers. The compact Authentics 200, priced at $329.99, offers a smaller and less powerful option. On the other end of the spectrum, the Authentics 500, priced at $699.99, delivers a larger, more immersive experience with an active subwoofer and support for Dolby Atmos. Sitting comfortably in the middle is the Authentics 300, priced at $429.99, which boasts versatility as the only battery-powered member of the lineup, providing approximately eight hours of playback on a single charge.
During a hands-on demonstration with the JBL Authentics 300, it became evident that Alexa and Google Assistant complement each other effectively for general voice commands. Whether it’s starting music playback, adjusting volume, or managing timers and alarms, the two voice assistants work harmoniously.
However, some challenges arise with content-specific commands. While both voice assistants can operate independently, certain commands may require some trial and error to achieve synchronization. Nonetheless, this learning curve mirrors the initial experience of interacting with any voice assistant.
Beyond the dual voice assistant functionality, JBL’s Authentics speakers feature a user-friendly design. The top panel includes three dials for volume, bass, and treble adjustments, catering to multiple users without the need for the JBL companion app. These dials also contribute to the speakers’ retro aesthetic.
Additionally, a programmable “moment” button allows you to set automated playlist or radio station playback from JBL’s companion app, enhancing user convenience. While it doesn’t extend to third-party services like Spotify, it simplifies access to preferred content.
JBL’s Authentics speakers offer versatile connectivity options, including traditional Bluetooth and a 3.5mm aux input, along with Ethernet for wired internet. They support various streaming services, including AirPlay, Alexa Multi-Room Music, Spotify Connect, and Chromecast built-in. Future firmware updates will bring Tidal Connect compatibility and the ability to pair multiple speakers for stereo and multi-channel setups.
JBL emphasizes sustainability, with the Authentics speakers crafted from recycled materials, including fabric, plastic, and aluminum. The battery in the Authentics 300 is designed for easy replacement, aligning with upcoming EU regulations for user-replaceable batteries by 2027.
While JBL’s groundbreaking dual voice assistant feature shows great promise, its future remains uncertain. Whether more speakers will offer simultaneous Alexa and Google Assistant support depends on user demand. As Marissa Chacko, Google’s director of product management for Google Assistant for Home, states, “This is the first trial. We want to see how it goes and see if there’s a demand for it.”
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