Acer just wrapped up its annual global press event. While we’re over the moon with the world’s first Snapdragon-powered Chromebook, that’s not the only thing Acer brought to this shindig. As a matter of fact, there are a couple of other items that we were pleased to hear about that didn’t even make the virtual showcase cut. No worries. We’re going to give you a closer look at two new devices that are welcome additions to the Google ecosystem and the first one is Acer’s first Assistant-enabled smart speaker.
Acer’s new smart speaker is an interesting beast with a lot of really cool features that we’ll get to in just a moment. At first glance, the fabric-covered speaker gave me a bit of an Amazon Echo feel and then I realized why. The first iteration of the Halo was actually a concept device that won some design awards last year and it happens to be powered by Alexa. I don’t think that version ever made it to market but now, Acer has refined the smart speaker and set it to launch with the Google Assistant in the first quarter of 2021. Here’s a little teaser video from Acer:
We didn’t get any details on the speaker lineup in the new Halo device but Acer is touting it as the first-ever Assistant smart speaker with DTS Sound to produce a full, 360-degree audio experience that fills the room. The starting price of the Halo will be $109 when it launches and that puts it as a direct competitor to Google’s recently launched Nest Audio. While we’ll have to wait for a hands-on to see if the Halo can match the Nest Audio’s impressive sound quality, Acer is bringing some very unique and super cool features to its first Assistant speaker.
RGB base lighting
The Halo may be wrapped in fabric like a Nest speaker but the base features a customizable RGB lighting setup and it’s more than a simple ambient feature. Acer says that the base lighting can be synced to change with the music that is playing as well as programmed to specific themes to match the time of day and the surrounding light scheme. This may seem like a gimmicky feature but I can tell you that my kids will absolutely love it. Having a smart speaker that can also interact visually is a great add-on and I’m honestly surprised we haven’t seen more manufacturers offer this feature. Of course, the Google Assistant will give you all the smart home control and features that we are accustomed to with a Nest or Google Home device.
Acer list this feature as optional which translates to “it will cost extra” but it very well may be worth whatever extra cash the company is charging. The Halo will offer an optional LED display that will live beneath the fabric face where you normally see just the familiar Assistant lights that trigger when you interact and also show you the volume level. The optional LED display will allow users to do a variety of things. Initially, the LED will display time and weather similar to Lenovo’s new Smart Clock Essential. However, Acer is also developing an Android app that is slated to launch in December that will let users create custom messages on the display. Like the birthday cake in the above video, you will also be able to turn simple images into digital LED pics that can be displayed on the screen. Pretty cool. Looking forward to hearing how the new Halo speaker sounds. If it is anywhere in the realm of quality that Nest Audio offers, Halo will be a fierce competitor in the affordable smart speaker space. The Halo will be available in Q1 of 2021 and start at $109. Stay tuned for updates.