Support for voice assistants is slowly becoming a norm in the smart-speaker industry. The Amazon Alexa lineup is to blame for this shift. Now, even speakers targeted at quality audio are getting support for built-in voice assistants. Exhibit A – the Marshall Uxbridge Voice. The latest speaker from Zound industries packs in a built-in Alexa support. Further, it also adds AirPlay 2 support along with the regular Bluetooth and Spotify connectivity.
The Speaker will be available in the US starting April 8 and will be priced at $199 (about Rs 15,000). The Marshall Uxbridge features a new design language. Instead of a series of knobs, you find a set of volume rocker-like buttons. These regulate the volume, bass and treble output. Another button is the default play/pause. There is also a separate button to control the Alexa-enabled far-field microphone.
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The Marshall Uxbridge is just 6.6-inches tall and 5-inches wide. It will be available in two color variants. These are black and white. The inclusion of far-field microphones means you can ask questions you’d usually ask Alexa, and use your voice to control playback.
With support from AirPlay 2 and Alexa, the Uxbridge Voice can also be paired with other speakers that use similar technologies to build a multiroom setup. Zound has also promised to add support for Google Assistant to the speaker. A date for this feature provided is June 11, 2020. However, note that the support for Google Assistant will not be provided with an update. The company will release a fresh variant of the speaker with support for Google Voice Assistant.
Zound took similar approaches with its first two Alexa-enabled speakers, the Stanmore II and Acton II. These also got separate models later featured Google Assistant support. The Marshall Uxbridge will compete with the Amazon Echo Studio and the Sonos One. It will, however, be smaller than most speakers in this price range.