I'm not testing the connection here on the show, but I heard how the speaker sounds. Well, how does Alexa sound, anyway. The demos were not connected to any music service, so we could not play any real music. I can tell you that the cube is impressively high and the sound quality seemed decent during Alexa's short solo concert after a representative shouted at it to "sing a song!" The sound sounded the same way I walked around the speaker, indicating some kind of omni-directional production was at stake, although Huawei did not explicitly mention this.
What the company said was that the AI cube has a 400ml sound cavity, aluminum diaphragm and passive radiators. These components will help provide clear spaces and high notes while providing strong rounded bass. Huawei also offers its own Histen ("Huawei List") audio enhancements that include "virtual bass, linear phase equalization (and) adaptive gain." This proprietary technology must "respect the original timbre" of songs, although I do not really understand what that means. Since I did not hear real music with notes over a range, I can not tell how well these features work.
Alexa seemed to work fine on the cube, although it does not make the answer as fast as I'm used to on my second gene echo. It may be because it has to struggle to understand me over the multiple voices in our demo room or because of a bad internet connection. Or it can only be slow – I do not know for sure before I can test one out at home (although I may not come to – more about it later). The noisy environment also made it difficult to judge how well the speaker's four long-range microphones picked up my voice from a distance, but I absolutely needed to speak clearly and consciously that it should hear me.
I really do not know how I feel about AI Cube's design. First of all, it's not a dice. On the one hand, it's a blatant copy of Google Home that it's funny. On the other hand, there is a version with a red net cover on the bottom that does not look terrible and generally the clean aesthetics of the cube are unofficial. Like most smart speakers, this thing has volume and dumb buttons on top, and has a light ring that shines when it thinks, just like Amazon's echo. For people who want an Alexa speaker, but like Google Home design, this can be a suitable solution.
The company has not made clear what has been done to improve the AI cube, although reps at a briefing once said, "Huawei has developed something in this device," which makes the Alexa experience a little different.
As a 4G and WiFi router, the AI cube is quite simple. It has a Cat 6 4G LTE radio that can get up to 300 Mbps on the downlink, and a dual-band 802.11ac WiFi chip that also reaches 1200 Mbps. It also supports Huawei's HiLink platform for easy connectivity to compatible devices. Nothing too impressive here really, other than the mere fact that it's a mobile data and WiFi router embedded in a smart speaker.
It will be months before we see the AI Cube hit shop shelves. The device will first come to Europe in the Christmas season, and Huawei said that it will only share the price around that time. There are no plans to free this in China at the moment, and if sold in the US, it's still a mystery.
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