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Bose and Harman Kardon prep new high-end smart speakers for fall launch

Two familiar names in audio engineering are throwing their hats into the premium smart speaker ring. Apple’s HomePod and the Sonos One are currently the two biggest contenders in the high-end audio space, but all signs point to this niche getting crowded fast.

Bose has debuted the Home Speaker 500, which supports Amazon Alexa, at a $400 price tag. The company also released two soundbars, costing $550 and $800. All three devices are due to hit shelves in October. They are the first new products to use Alexa as a built-in feature rather than a skill adopted after purchase. Bose said AirPlay 2 functionality will be added early in 2019, but other voice assistants may also be added. Looks-wise, it falls in line with what has become the standard cylindrical form factor.

The other new move comes from Harmon Kardon. The audio company already has the Invoke device centered on Microsoft’s Cortana voice platform and the Allure for Alexa, but it’s expanding to support Google with its newest product. The Citation 500 will be made available for preorder in Europe in late September for $700. The device can serve as a hub for other smart home systems, and its Harmon Kardon’s first foray into the luxury price tier. Considering Harman is owned by Samsung, a Bixby device seems like a likely future development, but that hypothetical move could target anywhere on the price spectrum.

And if pricing in the hundreds of dollars just isn’t spectacular enough, there’s always the Beosound models from Bang & Olufsen. New versions with Google Assistant are due out in September, and they’ll cost $1,750 or $2,250.

Anna Washenko

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