This new voice-enabled speaker looks the part and provides serious competition to Amazon and Google
Voice-activated speakers are rapidly becoming more popular with consumers. Recently we’ve seen a price war waged between the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers, which have both seen dramatic price drops. At IFA 2017, Panasonic unveiled its new SC-GA10 hi-fi speaker with Google Assistant built in. So how does the speaker compare to its rivals?
Panasonic SC-GA10 review: UK price and release date
The UK price has yet to be announced, given stiff competition from Google Home and the Amazon Echo, I’d be disappointed if the speaker were to cost more than £200. It is expected to launch in winter 2017 or after CES 2018, which takes place in Q1 2018.
Panasonic SC-GA10 review: Build quality and design
The SC-GA10 is a rectangular speaker with an aluminium enclosure. It comes in two mesh colours, black and white. The speaker looks fantastic and is built to fit into any living room space. In height, it sits between the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and its rectangular design means the SC-GA10 resembles a more traditional floor-standing speaker. Touch-sensitive buttons at the top of the speaker allow you to adjust the speaker’s volume and even mute the Google Assistant detection.
Panasonic SC-GA10 review: Google Assistant and wireless services
The speaker’s integration with Google Assistant is the standout feature. Panasonic has opted to side with Google rather than Amazon’s Alexa services. The voice assistant allows you to quickly search for information on the internet, convert currency on the fly and even find out the weather.
The service can also be used with Chromecast Audio or Chromecast to allow music to be synced across different devices.
The new Panasonic Music Control App provides access to popular streaming services such as Spotify, Google Play Music and TuneIn Radio. Of course, you can also connect to the speaker via Bluetooth – aptX codec is not currently supported, so you won’t be able to stream music at CD quality.
The speaker connects to the internet through its Ethernet port or via 802.11ac Wi-Fi. You’ll be able to use its rear 3.5mm jack input to playback music from your device.
Panasonic SC-GA10 review: Sound quality
The speaker has two 20mm soft dome tweeters, which provide a full 180 degrees of sound. An 80mm woofer with Panasonic’s Dual Voice Coil adds extra oomph to the speaker’s sound. This technology is used in cars – so you can image the sound it produces in the living room.
In comparison to its rivals, the SC-GA10 has a much greater emphasis on audio fidelity. Sound is definitely the focus here, so if you’re looking for a speaker with a voice assistant, the Panasonic will provide the best sound you can buy.
Panasonic SC-GA10 review: Early verdict
The speaker adds the feature I’ve been looking for in a voice-enabled speaker: sound quality. The Panasonic SC-GA10 looks great on paper and is aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, no pricing information was divulged and, with availability coined for winter 2017 or early 2018, other manufacturers might also jump into the scene. Ultimately, its price will determine its success. If it’s aggressively priced, then we’re on to a winner. Check back soon for my full review of the speaker.