In only a brief time period we’ve gone from no Google Assistant audio system available on the market to greater than a half dozen. Essentially the most well-known of those are the Google Residence, Google Residence Mini and Google Residence Max good audio system put out by Google itself, however the listing consists of the confusingly named Sony LFS50G, JBL Hyperlink 20 and Hyperlink 300, and Panasonic SC-GA10 as nicely.
The Polk Help, the most recent speaker to bear Google Assistant inside its plastic shell, shares lots in frequent with its good speaker brethren. Most clearly that features Google Assistant and Chromecast Constructed-in, however there’s additionally lots borrowed by way of design and audio energy.
That mentioned, and given simply what number of audio system are presently on the market, the Polk Help is a strong speaker … only one that’s actually much like what’s already on the market.
Aesthetically, the Polk Help seems to be lots just like the JBL Hyperlink 20 – one of many first third-party Google Assistant audio system available on the market. It’s a squat and rectangular with a mesh-covered entrance face, and a plastic prime that performs host to 4 management buttons in every of the corners.
These buttons embody play/pause, quantity up and quantity down in addition to a button to get Google Assistant’s consideration moderately than utilizing your chosen wake phrase.
Additionally on prime, you’ll discover the LED markers which point out quantity ranges and if Google Assistant is definitely listening, or simply going about its on a regular basis enterprise. The lights solely have two colours that we’ve seen – pink and white – and aren’t almost as fascinating because the Google Residence’s colourful rainbow wheel, even when it’s simply as pragmatic in use.
The decrease half of the speaker doesn’t have something actually fascinating happening: the entrance has a silver Polk brand and the again accommodates the facility port and mute button that lets you manually disable Google Assistant.
What meaning is that you simply gained’t discover a 3.5mm aux port such as you’d discover on a standard Bluetooth speaker, however fortunately the Polk Help comes with Chromecast Constructed-In and the most recent model of Bluetooth to mean you can stream music wirelessly.
To setup the speaker, you’ll have to obtain Google’s Residence app, in the event you don’t have already got it put in. The method takes just some minutes and also you’ll be guided to pick out which music suppliers you’d prefer to default to when enjoying songs and be given a fast audio tutorial.
As primarily a speaker first and a wise private assistant second, the Polk Help actually nails it. Audio sounds crisp and clear at greater quantity ranges (the upper the higher, actually) and music sounds higher right here than it does on the usual difficulty Google Residence. It’s no Google Residence Max, and definitely no competitors for Apple’s $349 (£319, AU$499) HomePod, but it surely doesn’t skimp on the components that depend.
That mentioned, by way of efficiency, you may anticipate heat mids and highs and hearty bass response. There’s good readability all through the audio spectrum, no matter which methodology you’re utilizing to stream music, and it will get loud sufficient to simply fill small to medium-sized rooms.
That’s the excellent news. The unhealthy information is that you simply gained’t be blown away by the speaker’s soundstage – what’s on provide right here is slim and self-contained. You gained’t get a rock stadium-esque expertise right here, and can as a substitute get one thing extra akin to a tiny desk live performance with sounds emanating from a singular level in house.
So, general, audio efficiency is nice however nothing to put in writing house about.
And that audio efficiency is the higher of the 2 components – the Polk Help isn’t the greatest good speaker available on the market. We are saying that as a result of, as of proper now, most third-party Google Assistant audio system don’t have the total performance of Google’s first-party canisters: The Polk Help can’t make telephone calls proper now, for instance, nor are you able to convey up the equalizer settings within the Google Residence app.
The latter is minor, certain, however not having the ability to make calls utilizing the Help is a significant characteristic that’s presently MIA.
The opposite minor drawback is that, occasionally, the Polk Help had issues listening to us over the loud din of a tune. It wasn’t one thing we may replicate repeatedly, however the occasions that it occurred left us feeling much less assured within the speaker general.
Fortunately the Help can nonetheless management gadgets synced up with the Google Residence app simply advantageous, and it may be added to speaker teams to create multi-room audio setups. We’ll simply need to accept 90% of the performance right here.
At $199 (£179, round AU$270), the Polk Help is a strong, if-not-super-impressive good speaker. It provides fundamental good performance (sans calling) and it does so with the added bonus of fine audio playback. It serves as improve over the $129 Google Residence, however, in the event you’re on the lookout for a tried-and-true Hello-Fi expertise, you would possibly wish to contemplate the costlier Google Residence Max or Apple HomePod as a substitute.