IT

Garmin Speak brings Amazon Alexa and Global Positioning System navigation to any vehicle

Garmin Speak brings Amazon Alexa and Global Positioning System navigation to any vehicle

Stephen Kupka's bari sax sounded so much fatter than it did on the older speaker. Right away, I noticed it sounded similar if not better than the Play:1, which is a good thing. The One only shares two physical parts with the Play:1, the bottom rubber feet and bottom plastic cap. I acquired that recording in Apple Lossless format from Bowers & Wilkins' Society of Sound download service. With Alexa incorporated into the Garmin Speak, one is able to simultaneously receive navigation instructions and interact with the virtual assistant. As a first-time Sonos user who has yet to invest in a smart speaker, I'm tempted to shell out the extra $70-$100 and invest in a Sonos One instead of choosing between a Google Home or an Amazon Echo.

"Alexa, turn it up" and "Alexa, turn it down" worked even though I was playing through Spotify. The problem disappeared as soon as I moved the Sonos One into my home theater for my critical listening tests.

The Garmin Speak is now available through Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers for $150, around the same price as some of Garmin's other in-car models. The music then returns to its previous level. I've been telling Alexa to do things like "play Haim", or "lower the volume" and Alexa on the Sonos One has been very responsive, and in general a pleasure to use. It provides spoken directions with street names and shows arrows on the display with audio prompts to indicate which lane you need to be in for your next turn or upcoming exit.

Amazon wants its Alexa voice assistant to be everywhere - even in the passenger seat of your vehicle to help with directions. If you've completely bought into the Amazon eco-system, including music subscriptions and shopping, then having Alexa easily accessible from your vehicle while you commute to and from work will certainly be useful. As Giles Martin, Sonos Sound Experience Leader says, "light's on, mic's on". In this mode, you don't even have to say, "Alexa", but you do have to use your hands. Sanus and other manufacturers will happily oblige.

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Since its introduction three years ago, Amazon Alexa has been integrated into more and more products. I use both Spotify and Tidal, and I've been dallying with SiriusXM. The latest of these is the Garmin Speak, and it finally brings Alexa right into your vehicle.

I had a little trouble initially after pairing the speakers; Alexa wasn't recognizing them properly, and wouldn't play music, nor would Alexa realize that I started playing music using the Sonos app. Alexa can easily search music by artist, title, or genre.

Unless you find the drawbacks I've described to be deal breakers, the Sonos One is a no brainer.