Imagine if the Google Home smart-speaker charged your phone, and had audio drivers from Devialet

The future is truly in multitasking. It isn’t enough that your wireless charger charges only one device. It needs to charge three at a time… and your wristwatch? It should tell you the time, indicate your health, and also let you send and receive calls. In a world where all our products are designed to multitask, it seems like the smart-speaker is capable of a lot more than playing audio from the web on command. Meet the Soundform Elite. It’s a smart-speaker enabled with Google Assistant (and it looks a bit like the Google Nest Home too), as well as a wireless charging dock equipped with Belkin’s charging technology, and incredibly powerful audio drivers by none other than Devialet.

The partnership between Belkin and Devialet is interesting for a number of reasons. Belkin is famed for making some of the best charging cables, hubs, adapters, and extension boxes on the market, while Devialet still reigns as the most awarded audio company in the world. The companies announced their collaboration at CES this year, with the Soundform Elite, which happens to be Devialet’s second smart-speaker after its collab with Huawei. The Soundform Elite works just like any smart-speaker, albeit with a docking area for your phone. Equipped with a fast-charging 10W Qi charger, the Soundform Elite has the unique feature of being able to charge a wide variety of compatible Android phones as well as iPhones, making it a worthy pick for Apple enthusiasts too. Moreover, fitted with Devialet’s incredibly capable driver and woofer technology, the Soundform should easily outperform other speakers in its price category of $299.

The Soundform Elite comes in the classic Black and White color-schemes (much like the HomePod), and has a neat fabric clad around the outside which is practically a standard for smart-speakers now. It ships in Spring 2020, although it’s up for preorder on Belkin’s site.

Designers: Belkin & Devialet

Harman is redesigning its in-car audio systems specifically for electric vehicles

I bet you didn’t know this but car stereos can often be power guzzlers. A decent car audio setup can pull anywhere from 200 to 500 watts RMS of power depending on the number of speaker units, the size of the car, and the bass module. That isn’t really much of a concern when you’ve got a fuel-powered automobile but in an electric vehicle, any sort of efficiency can go a long way in making a car perform better. Harman (which got acquired by Samsung in late 2016) is looking to redesign its audio systems for EVs, to help provide its signature quality of sound, but with a smaller power footprint. Its redesigned system, called the ECOTECT, is aimed at helping provide cars with high-quality audio while weighing less and using as little power as possible.

Traditional audio systems usually have audio units at the base of each door (often with a separate tweeter near the window), along with smaller drivers lined at the top, followed by the woofer right at the back. Harman’s Ecotect follows the same philosophy, but puts two drivers under the gearbox in front, rather than the door, followed by smaller drivers on the A and B pillars, and a woofer at the back, providing the same sound but also cutting down the number of components required. “Ecotect features high-efficiency speakers, a proprietary Prodigy Booster amplifier and Power Manager 2.0 technology, all layered in via a unique architecture that leverages innovative speaker locations, sustainable materials and sophisticated signal processing to deliver premium audio and communications experiences with EV-optimized efficiency”, says the product team at Harman. The Ecotect also leverages the use of software to help provide audio that matches traditional in-car sound systems… much like how phone cameras use computational photography to compete with DSLRs. To add to it, Harman’s even built voice-sensing volume fading technologies into it to help reduce audio to enable conversations in the car, as well as HALOsonic Road Noise Cancellation, which dampens and minimizes road noise to make your cabin quieter and your music experience richer. Pretty neat, eh?

Designer: Harman

Weber Connect will be a useful tool for grillers of all skill levels

If you haven't been keeping up with the latest in backyard barbecue news, Weber is tackling smart and connected grilling in a big way this year. The company announced its WiFi-enabled SmokeFire pellet grills back in November, which will be avai...

Thermaltake’s latest gaming headset works with Alexa and Razer Chroma

Thermaltake just introduced a gaming headset that's as much about showing off as it chatting with your gaming buddies. The Riing Pro RGB 7.1 steps up the competition against rival headsets with two-zone lighting you can control with both Alexa and R...

Podcast: Quibi and Lioness on the future of streaming video and sex tech

In this special interview episode from CES 2020, Devindra chats with the minds behind Quibi -- founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO Meg Whitman, Chief Product Officer Tom Conrad and CTO Ben Post -- to see how it's attempting to disrupt streaming mobile vi...