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Audio

  • Apple HomePod: which music streaming services are supported?

    The Apple HomePod is the firm's long-overdue foray into the smart speaker market, even if they're branding it as a high-end audio speaker instead. Nevertheless, music lovers will appreciate the tech going into the device, but what about supported music services? Apple has updated its HomePod spec page (h/t: Ars Technica) with "audio sources", specifically listing Apple Music, iTunes music purchases, Podcasts, iCloud Music Library, Beats 1 Live Radio and Airplay from other Apple devices to the speaker. In other words, it looks like Google Play Music, Spotify, Deezer and other third-party music streaming services aren't properly integrated into the HomePod then. You'll...

  • Can we expect LG speakers with Google Assistant in SA this year?

    Last year at LG Innofest, the company had a bit of a mixed message around its Amazon Alexa-powered appliances, to say the least. Now that the company has a few Google-powered devices, such as the CLOi robot and ThinQ speaker, you might be wondering about a local launch. Don't count on it, unfortunately. LG's Tony Dos Santos confirmed that they'd be focusing on general portable speakers for the South African market for now. "So this year we'll launch portable speakers... where you're able to stream, for example... But that product will be launched (in) the second half of this year..." Dos Santos told reporters...

  • Apple HomePod gets release date – but nothing for SA yet

    The Apple HomePod represents the Cupertino company's foray into the popular smart speaker sector, currently dominated by the likes of Amazon and Google. We were originally supposed to get a December 2017 release, but the company decided to shift the launch to 2018. Now, Apple has given us a release date, launching on 9 February and being available to order online from 26 January. You'll need to splash out US$349 for the speaker. The launch countries are a pretty short list, being the USA, UK and Australia, but expect France and Germany to join the party in "spring". So that means no...

  • Google Home Mini review: a capable yet cheap smart speaker?

    Slap an AI assistant onto a speaker and you've got a smart speaker. It's simple stuff really, but a formula that's proven rather popular in the past two years or so. Amazon and its Echo range were first off the bat and seem to be the market-leader right now, but the Google Home range has also carved out a solid niche for itself. These products aren't available in South Africa, so when a work visit to the USA popped up, I grabbed the opportunity to buy a Google Home Mini for US$30 from Walmart (usually US$50). At this price, it's cheap enough...

  • A (non) update on Amazon Alexa coming to South Africa

    Earlier this year, we got word from LG that it was targeting Alexa-enabled appliances for South Africa in 2018. The Korean firm quickly distanced itself from these remarks though, saying it can't confirm the local timing for Alexa-enabled appliances. At the time of the news, we attempted to contact Amazon's representatives to get the story from the horse's mouth, but to no avail. In any event, we've since circled back for another attempt, finally getting an answer of sorts. "I understand you're curious to learn about whether Alexa is heading to South Africa in 2018. Thanks for your interest," an Amazon...

  • FYI: Google Home Mini works just fine in South Africa

    Google hardware is notoriously tough to come by in South Africa, as we've found out over the past couple of years. This is chiefly due to a combination of pending localisation and regulatory approval, country manager Luke Mckend told us in an interview earlier this year. For what it's worth, I managed to grab a Google Home Mini for US$30 during a work trip to the USA last week. And the good news is that it works well enough thus far (in case you didn't know), even without proper localisation in place. In terms of the hardware setup, the Google Home Mini...

  • iFrogz Coda wireless headset: great sound, but imperfect

    The iFrogz Coda wireless headset is a neat little piece of technology that, while producing great sound, is far from perfect. Let's start with the basics. The Bluetooth headset comes packed with a short charging cable and three sets of ear tips. The plastic device is made to clip onto your collar, and the wires are just over 30cm long. The body itself is light yet sturdy, and I -- a very accident prone individual -- have never worried about breaking it. At first blush, the magnetic clip seems worryingly weak, as if a small tug will pull it off your collar...

  • iFROGZ Coda HP review: wireless headphones on a budget

    Budget Bluetooth headphones are becoming more common as the price of the technology drops. But that still doesn't mean I've found a set of wireless headphones I love. Enter the latest contender: the iFROGZ Coda Bluetooth headphones. These cans are manufactured by ZAGG, a company based in Salt Lake City, USA, and also incidentally responsible for the Mophie brand. ZAGG is re-emphasising its push into South Africa, introducing a number of new products to our shores. Notably, I grabbed myself a review unit of the Coda headphones, and before I knew it, I was headbanging to Tay-Tay while penning this review....

  • Google Home, Amazon Echo can fight HomePod, but where are they?

    The smart speaker arena looks set to go into overdrive as Apple finally joined the party last month with the HomePod. Featuring an array of audio hardware and smart adjustments, the device is pretty interesting. Then there's the Apple Music integration, as you use your voice to sift through tracks and playlists. Taken together with the audio chops and there's little wonder why Apple is positioning it as a high-end audio speaker. It may be marketed as a speaker first and assistant second, but the truth is that it still plays in the same space as Amazon and Google's products. And...

  • Samsung working on smart Bixby speaker – report

    We've seen Amazon, Google and Apple step up to the plate with smart speakers, but now, it looks like Samsung is the latest company to deliver this type of gadget. According to the Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the matter", Samsung will launch a voice-activated speaker that uses the Bixby assistant as its backbone. The publication adds that launch timing is "far from determined", owing to delays surrounding the English version of Bixby. The English version of Bixby is currently in beta preview in the USA. Bixby's delays didn't stop Samsung from launching the Galaxy S8 (review) with a Bixby...