Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi launched two new gadgets today: the Mi 5X smartphone, and a new smart speaker called the Mi AI Speaker. While the smartphone is somewhat interesting, if only because it features a dual-camera system, the speaker is certainly the more intriguing announcement.
The device includes a six-microphone array and is designed to be the hub for all of Xiaomi's smart home products, which the company says includes 60 million connected devices, like rice cookers, vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, fans, and lamps. The speaker will launch in China in August through a beta program. Only 1,000 people will test it at first, and their use will let Xiaomi further refine the voice controls. The speaker will work like any other similar device: it'll control connected products and also serve as a personal assistant that'll announce weather, traffic, and calendar reminders.
While the Mi AI Speaker sounds like most any other speaker on the market right now, its price is unique. It'll cost 299 Chinese yuan, or around $45. The Amazon Echo costs $179.99, and Google Home costs $129. The Echo Dot is most comparable, as it costs only $49.99, but Xiaomi's version looks more like a regular Echo and presumably has a better speaker because of its size, although we can't be sure.
I also think this speaker looks nicer than the Dot; the white feels more modern. (Check out that blue ring at the top, though. It's very Amazon-esque.) I'm sure the Mi AI won't be released in the US, but I hope companies in the States take a cue from Xiaomi on price and design.