Although not really a cube, Huawei's AI Cube smart speaker is an interesting addition to the company's portfolio and an unexpected one. According to analysts, the smart speaker market will reach 220 million in 2020, so Huawei wants to get into the action with a solution of its own.
Just like all AI speakers, the AI Cube offers a smart assistant to take care of things you can't be bothered with by using your smartphone or PC. To our surprise, it's not Google's Assistant, but instead, the Chinese tech giant decided to partner with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. To our question why Huawei has chosen Alexa instead of Google Assistant, the spokesperson replied:
We think good cooperation is the key to drive the industry forward.
When it comes to hardware, the AI Cube has a few advantages over the existing Alexa speakers. It has a big 400ml sound cavity and aluminum diaphragm for crisp audio. The maximum power output is 15W, and the speaker adopts some of Huawei's existing technologies like Huawei Histen.
The latter enhances Alexa's capabilities with Far-Field voice recognition using the array of four microphones and enriches the sound quality by including virtual bass, linear phase equalizer and adaptive gain control.
When it comes to connectivity, it impresses with a wide range of supported options. It can hold a SIM card for cellular connectivity supporting LTE Cat. 6 (up to 300Mbps download and 50Mbps upload) as well as WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac on both frequency ranges - 2.4GHz and 5GHz. If you prefer a wired connection, the AI Cube can take a LAN cable with speeds of up to 1,200Mbps.
What we liked about the not-so-little speaker is the design. It has a matte plastic body all-around with a fabric mesh on the bottom coming in different colors. The cables can be neatly tucked under the device since all the connectors are under there.
The AI Cube can be expected sometime around Christmas in Europe with the price still unknown.
Next down the list is the GPS Locator. It's a small GPS tracker that can be used to locate your pet, luggage, bike or anything that needs to be kept in a safe distance so it won't be lost. It features an IP68-rated enclosure and a 660mAh battery that can last for 15 days or 30 days in standby mode.
Functional connectivity is at hand as well - GPS/A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou and can also use the WiFi to improve accuracy and give indoor location information. Moreover, the Locator has a nano-SIM slot and supports all global cellular bands for trouble-less roaming connectivity.
Additionally, the device supports services like SOS button, Geoforceonce, BLE Found and a proximity-based feature that triggers a buzzer alarm once the paired smartphone is within 10m range.
The Locator is expected to hit the EU market first and will require only connection without the need for an additional paid service.