Some things are inevitable — stock market fluctuations, thunderstorms, your favorite band reuniting to offset poor financial planning. And then there’s Alexa. Amazon’s smart assistant is slowly making its way onto every aspect of the smart home, and Google’s own offering isn’t too far behind.
As far as these things go, routers make a lot of sense. They’re a key part of staying connected, and in the case of mesh ones, they’re everywhere. So why not have them do double duty, right? Clearly Huawei and Netgear were struck by the same thought, and Amazon was more than happy to oblige.
Both companies debuted a take on the concept this week at IFA. Huawei’s AI Cube, which despite not being a cube at all, is the more straight forward of the two offerings. The device looks remarkably like a Google Home (and, by extension, a Glade air freshener, but I digress) and does LTE via a 4G SIM card, along with both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
The fabric bottom of the router is a larger speaker so Alexa can talk back, featuring a “400ml sound cavity and an aluminum diaphragm.” The “AI” appears to refer to the Alexa functionality. No word on what specific router skills Alexa will have here, but speed readings seem like a pretty good start.
Netgear, meanwhile, beat Huawei to the draw by a day with the Orbi Voice. The addition to the popular line takes advantage of the fact that mesh routers are designed to be placed throughout the home to help cover WiFi dead spots. It’s a bit like putting Echo Dots everywhere, except they’re helping keep your network covered in the process.
No word on price for the Huawei, but the Netgear’s gonna run you $300. Either one seems like a pretty solid addition for those looking to Alexa up the place.