Craig reviews the Sony LF-S50G hands free 360° speaker with built in Google Home Assist
With busy lives and a desire for everything to be instant, the world has embraced technology that allows us the ability to do what we need to do when we want to do it, to help keep us organised, provide information, recipes and music at a single command.
With Alexa having established her place in the market with the Amazon Echo, the Dot and the Sonos One there’s another contender for top spot, and that’s the Sony LF-S50G with Google Home Assist. Today I’m going to tell you exactly what I think of it.
The product that we’re looking at today is the Sony LF-S50G hands free speaker with Google Home Assist. At 162mm tall and 110mm wide is a good size and is larger than I expected. It’s also light at just 750g.
With the ability to connect the speaker via Bluetooth to a number of devices, including lights, heating and TV it’s a real helpful hand around the home. Simply download the Google Home app, set the speaker up with a few simple steps and you’re ready to roll.
The Google assistant is there when you need answers. Just say “Hey Google” before your question and she’ll respond. Ask her to play music and within seconds your room will be filled with the music of your choice via the 360° speaker. Just an FYI at this point but the British version does have an English accent.
The speaker is water resistant, allowing you freedom in the kitchen and bathroom, and has touch free control. A simple swipe of the hand will skip the next track or play and pause while a circular motion with a finger tip will alter the volume. Alternatively just ask for the sound to be turned down!
This speaker retails at around £200 and is available via the Sony Centre or Currys PC World.
Setting the speaker up took less than 10 minutes. I found the instructions easy to follow and experienced no issues at all. The voice controls are easy too and the assistant has no issues recognising my commands. When I have asked things that she doesn’t yet understand she tells me so. I just had to rephrase my question.
The sound quality is very good and really does fill the room. At volume 100, it’s way too loud but the quality is still there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to rival a Bang and Olufsen system by any degree, but it’s more than adequate for most peoples needs.
The hand controls are also easy, and again I’ve had no issues.
The assistant is super polite and friendly, but she also has a ‘human’ approach and uses certain words and phrases which helps make her sound more ‘real’, this coupled with her sense of humour makes it much more fun to use. For example I asked “Hey Google, what’s your favourite colour?” She replied “Well, you know that bluish purple colour that you get when the sun is setting? Not that one!” Which actually made me laugh out loud.
Add events to your calendar and set alarms and reminders. Use it as an alarm clock, and in the morning you’re greeted with a cheery welcome and then told about the weather and any reminders you’ve set, before being presented with the news headlines. You do need to set up personal voice recognition to enable you to do this, but like everything else it’s very easy and I set mine up in a minute by repeating “OK Google” and “Hey Google” Also, more than one person can do this, so that the whole family can be recognised.
On the flip side, a couple of times when not being used at all, she has announced “I’m sorry I didn’t quite get that” which is somewhat random. But otherwise I’ve experienced no issues with it at all.
In my opinion this speaker is for everyone and will be a great addition to the home of a person of any age or background. It’s very functional and can offer information in a heartbeat, so will great for students and those of school age. Those who like to cook can have recipes read to them. Music buffs can have a world of music available with Google Play (subscription required) Or you can transfer your own music library to the Google Home app. Busy people have a speaking diary and those in need of a little company can get a joke whenever they want and a “sweet dreams, mind the bugs and fleas don’t bite” message at bed time, or “all aboard the Bedfordshire express” Which is my personal favourite.
Pro’s & Con’s
For me it’s a plus that it was simple to install. It’s so easy to get befuddled with new technology, especially when it doesn’t connect or recognise your bluetooth or WiFi etc. It’s intuitive and responsive and once I’d asked for certain genres of music and then just asked for ‘music’ it selected songs within the genres that I’d previously requested without being told to do so.
Some people may find this a bit odd and intrusive. Some people, particularly conspiracy theorists may be concerned that Big Brother is listening to your every move via the speaker. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not but I’m not doing anything wrong so why should I care?
One teeny tiny additional observation is that I wish the British version was operate with “Hello Google” rather than “Hey Google” a it isn’t an overly British phrase. But that’s just a very personal preference.
Overall the team were impressed. Even devout fans of Alexa were impressed. People liked the design and commented that “it’s quite stylish” Those with the Amazon Dot noted the size of the speaker but also mentioned that it wasn’t too big and that “it’s not going to be immediately obvious in a room”
They found it easy to use and it recognised all of the different voices in the room when asked different commands by different people.
I am not giving this speaker back. Full stop. It’s already established itself as a member of the family and an indispensable source of music and never ending information. Since arriving it’s been in constant use and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. Maybe you already have one of these speakers? What do you think of yours? Maybe this review has helped you make up your mind to get one? Whatever your thoughts I’d love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment below.