Since Amazon debuted Alexa, the digital assistant has taken on a variety of form-factors. At Mobile World Congress this week, Harman Kardon continued that trend by announcing its latest smart speaker. Deemed Astra, the device is said to boast high quality, room-filling audio alongside Alexa’s thousands of skills.

Mobile World Congress 2018 has been in full swing this week, giving Harman Kardon the perfect opportunity to unveil its latest smart speaker, Astra. Stemming from a partnership with Brightstar, the speaker packs Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant alongside typical Harman Kardon design and 360-degree sound output.

Much like the HomePod, Astra’s design is centered around being a great speaker first and foremost. It boasts a 360-degree omnidirectional sound field thanks to the inclusion of 3 1.75-inch full-range transducers alongside 3 0.75-inch dome tweeters and then 2 passive radiators. Harmon Kardon claims Astra sounds significantly better than a standard Amazon Echo, and with an audio array like that, it’s not that far-fetched to believe them.

Astra’s physical appearance falls in line with most of the speakers that have come before it from Harman Kardon. So if you’re a fan of the company’s well-known aesthetics, then you should feel right at home with their latest speaker.

Rounding out the Astra speaker is of course the aforementioned Alexa integration. Alexa is already one of the most robust digital assistants on the market, and bringing its wide range of skills will surely bolster the speaker’s success, at least compared to other Harman Kardon smart speakers.

As of now, we’ve only gotten an initial glance at Harman Kardon’s latest. Specific details on pricing and availability are still unclear, but Astra is said to be launching sometime this year in late spring or summer. Pricing is up in the air as well, with the Alexa speaker most likely entering the market with an estimated $200 price tag.

Whether or not Astra’s features paired with its compact form factor will be enough to attract new Alexa adopters is still up for debate. Alexa users who desire higher-quality audio than the Echo can pump out can already pair just about any speaker or sound system with the always-on device. But if the price and sound is right, then Harman Kardon may end up being one of the go-to Alexa devices on the market.

BARCELONA, Spain–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Mobile World Congress 2018 HARMAN International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. focused on connected technologies for automotive, consumer and enterprise market, today introduced the Harman Kardon Astra. This intelligent speaker with Amazon Alexa Voice Service, features an elegant design and 360-degree omni-directional sound field. The Astra is being launched in partnership with Brightstar.

By combining a superior listening experience with a premium look and feel, as well as Alexa’s smart voice technology, the Astra brings music lovers a rich, first-class listening experience. Incorporating three 1.75” full-range transducers, three .75” dome tweeters and two passive radiators, the Astra delivers full-bandwidth room filling sound. Whether placed in the kitchen to create a relaxing soundtrack while cooking or retrieving the latest news in a home office, Astra fills any room of the home with beautiful, 360-degree Harman Kardon performance.

“The Harman Kardon Astra is the latest voice agent product from HARMAN and solidifies our leadership in the space,” said David Owens, Vice President Business Development at Harman. “Launching this as a Brightstar exclusive gives Harman the opportunity to reach new channels and customers around the globe.”

For those looking to listen to the latest podcast, receive an updated weather report, or control smart home enabled devices including lights, thermostats, and more, the Astra’s hands-free voice commands are ideal. Proprietary far-field voice technology allows the speaker to hear commands effortlessly whether at home, in a hotel or at the office, even in noisy environments.

“We’re delighted to continue bringing exclusive and innovative products, such as the Harman Kardon Astra with Amazon Alexa,” said Khalid Zitouni, Vice President, Global Gear at Brightstar. “With our channel partners we’re reaching global markets and a large customer base expanding the HARMAN brand.”

KEY FEATURES

  • Powered by Amazon Alexa Voice Service: Connect to Alexa through dual-band Wi-Fi, just ask and Alexa will provide information, place an order, play music and more. It’s always getting smarter and adding new features with more than 20,000 Alexa skills.
  • Far-field Voice Recognition: Built-in 4-microphone array with advanced noise cancellation technology allows for hands-free voice control from across the room.
  • 360-Degree Sound: With three x 1.75” drivers, three .75” tweeters, and 2 passive radiators, the Astra produces 360-degrees of beautiful sound that fills up every corner of the room.
  • Wireless Bluetooth Streaming: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 2.4 and 5 GHz networks with up to 96kHz/24bits of Wi-Fi audio to stream room-filling music from any mobile device via Bluetooth.

Harman Kardon Astra with Amazon Alexa will be available for purchase starting Spring/Summer 2018 via Brightstar channels as well as on www.harmankardon.com and www.amazon.com.

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