You probably don’t associate cable giant Altice USA with the cutting edge of smart home technology, but it’s determined to change your mind. The company has unveiled a smart speaker, the Amplify, that can serve as a complement to your existing cable service. The Alexa-based device looks like a typical smart Sonos One-style speaker, but it promises better-than-usual quality thanks to two long-stroke woofers from Devialet (known for its speakers for TV giants), a 19v, 7.5A peak amp and a design meant to cancel vibrations while pumping out serious bass. It also touts party tricks like auto volume adjustment and room-filling spatialization.
The Amazon voice assistant gives it control over the usual smart home functions and music services you’d expect from an Alexa-powered device. The real hook, though, is its tie-in with cable service. You can use it to voice control the Altice One platform, whether you’re switching channels or firing up a movie. Altice clearly hopes you’ll buy this as a companion to your set-top box.
The Amplify’s pricing reflects that strategy. You won’t have to be a subscriber to buy the speaker when it arrives later in the year, but it’ll be easier to buy if you do. Altice will charge non-subs $499 for the device, but it’ll knock the price down to $399 if you’re an Optimum or Suddenlink customer. There will also be a $10 per month option if the up-front price is too steep.
This could be a tough sell if you’re happy with lower-cost speakers like the Sonos One, HomePod or Google Home Max, or just prefer a different voice assistant. However, there are only so many Alexa speakers with this form factor and (claimed) performance. If you’re fine with Amazon’s voice helper in the first place, it might be worth consideration.