underscored belkin lead
CNN  — 

When you think smart speakers, chances are Belkin isn’t the first name that comes to mind. Belkin is hoping to change that starting with an announcement at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, taking place in Las Vegas through January 10. Belkin has teamed up with the French audio company Devialet for the Soundform Elite Hi-Fi Smart Speaker + Wireless Charger, which will launch in February for $299.

Devialet is best known for its $3,000 Phantom, a high-end wireless speaker that produces an extraordinary amount of volume and bass thanks to a massive woofer and 12 amplifiers. The new Soundform Elite will leverage some of the same technology as the Phantom, but with different hardware and design. Rest assured we’ll be putting it to the test, but it’s safe to say that we expect high-fidelity sound.

Devialet’s “Push-Push” woofer design is also inside the Soundform Elite. It’s similar to the haptic woofers on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The woofers face each other to cancel out vibration and deliver rich bass. If this speaker is anything like the Phantom, it should be deep and booming.

The design as a whole looks like an Apple HomePod or an oversized Echo that had the top cut off at an angle. There is a Qi wireless charger on top of the Soundform Elite that can push out up to 10 watts as well as buttons for Bluetooth, volume, play and pause. It has a mesh outer shell in black or white.

Instead of Alexa or Siri, though, this smart speaker integrates with the Google Assistant. You can even hook a few of these up together or with other Google Assistant smart speakers for a multi-room or group experience. Of course, you can also say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” for random questions and to check the temperature, control your smart home and more.

The Soundform Elite joins a crowded market, where it will go up against the Echo Studio, 3rd Gen Echo, Apple HomePod, Sonos One, Sonos One SL and countless other speakers. But it’s exciting to see an audiophile company like Devialet entering a new, more affordable price range. At $299, the Soundform Elite could carve out a place in the smart speaker market with a unique brand partnership and a speaker that tosses in a convenient wireless charger. And this isn’t just a one-off partnership: Belkin is promising it will yield more audio products in the coming months.

We expect to have a review of the Soundform Elite shortly before it goes on sale in February.

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Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.