It seems like everyone is coming out with smart speakers this fall. New to the game is 808 Audio. They recently released the XL-V Smart Speaker. It includes voice-control for Alexa, Bluetooth and is priced at $129. It looks similar to the original Amazon Echo, and it’s a good option if you are in the market for a smart speaker.
808 Audio describes their entry into the smart speaker market this way:
Introducing the voice-controlled Alexa XL-V Smart Speaker from 808 Audio. Its cylindrical design offers stereo room-filling, immersive sound, delivering crisp vocals and dynamic bass response. Pair additional speakers and stream music everywhere in your home at the same time. The XL-V connects to cloud-based voice service, Alexa, that instantly provides information, answers questions, plays music, reads the news, checks sport scores, reports on weather and so much more. Say the song, artist or genre you want to hear and stream directly over WiFi from Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, to name a few. Or stream music wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet. Far-field voice control lets Alexa hear you from across the room even when music is playing. Alexa works with a wide range of compatible WiFi smart home products using only your voice. Turn on bedroom lights or turn up the thermostat and more by enabling the manufacture’s free Alexa smart home skill. Use it to order pizza, request a ride, track your fitness. Alexa automatically adapts to your personal preferences so it keeps getting smarter the more you use it.
The speaker stands 9” tall, is 3” in diameter and is silver-colored, which gives it a bit of an industrial look.
At the bottom of the speaker, there is a power button and a button to put the speaker into Bluetooth mode. A power indicator light sits between the two of them.
On the back is the cutout for the AC power adapter and a 3.5mm Aux input for those times when you want to use the speaker in wired mode.
The speaker holes that run around the lower third of the entire speaker are covered in cloth that allows you to see the speaker holes. It gives a cool, but understated appearance.
At the top of the speaker are four buttons. There is a volume up button and a volume down button. There is a button with a microphone icon that can turn the voice control on and off. Finally, there is a button with a small circle on it that activates Alexa voice services without the need to say the word “Alexa.”
Around the buttons is a ring of lights that give feedback when speaking to Alexa. It glows blue/green when you are using Alexa Voice Services. It glows solid Blue when the speaker is in Bluetooth mode. It glows white when you are using the speaker in Aux-In mode. It glows yellow when the speaker is not connected to WiFi or is not logged into Alexa services. And it glows red when Alexa’s listening mode is turned off.
The Bluetooth in the speaker means you can stream music from your smartphone, tablet or computer. That means the 808 Audio XL-V can be used the way you would use any Bluetooth speaker. That, of course, is only part of the speaker’s features.
Thanks to the WiFi and Alexa voice services built into the speaker it can do much more than any speaker 808 Audio has previously released. With the voice services, you can access music, news, sports scores, weather and much more. It can, of course, also serve as a control hub for your smart home and much more.
- Alexa Has Skills – Order pizza. Request a ride. Track your fitness. Enabling skills lets Alexa do even more – thousands are available through the App.
- Voice Control your Smart Home – Turn on your bedroom light. Turn up the thermostat. Alexa works with a wide range of compatible smart home products.
- Keeps Getting Better – Alexa is always getting smarter and automatically updates. The more you use it, the more it adapts to you and your personal preferences.
For example, most of the lights, the thermostat and the ceiling fans in my home are all “smart.” With the Alexa Voice Services built into this speaker, I’m able to control all of them by voice. Also, a smart speaker such as this can access all of Amazon’s skills. That means this isn’t just a speaker but is also an alarm clock, a sleep timer, a joke-teller (the jokes are incredibly bad) and much more. And, as Amazon adds more skills, the speaker will become even more useful.
In other words, the XL-V is a fully featured Alexa speaker for those who want something other than Amazon’s offerings.
My biggest issue with the original Alexa speaker is the fact that the audio from it is just passable. The XL-V isn’t for audiophiles, but it certainly holds its own. Thanks to the speaker’s outward facing drivers and reflex port, the XL-V provides sound that can fill a room. It sounds pretty good.
High-powered audio with outward facing drivers provide room-filling, immersive stereo sound, delivering crisp vocals and dynamic bass response.
Also, the XL-V supports multi-room audio. That means you can purchase additional speakers and link them, so music streams in multiple rooms at the same time. And, as mentioned, the speaker also has an aux input so you can plug a 3.5mm audio cable in and physically connect it to an audio source.
I love having the Amazon Echo and have been looking to add smart speakers to as many of our rooms as possible. This speaker certainly fills that bill.
My only real issue with the speaker is the fact that, apparently, you can’t change the Wake Word used to trigger the voice control. With Amazon’s products, you get a few choices including Alexa, Amazon, Echo, and Computer. With this speaker the only Wake Word you can use is Alexa. That becomes an issue in certain scenarios. For example, I wanted to put this speaker in the master bathroom. When I went to activate it, however, saying the word “Alexa” triggered both the 808 XL-V and the Amazon Echo that is in the bedroom. If I could change the XL-V’s Wake Word, there would be no issue. I can’t. And since we have been using the Amazon Echo in the bedroom for well over a year, the idea of changing the Wake Word to something else isn’t really an option either. That means I’ll need to put the XL-V Smart Speaker in the bedroom and the Amazon Echo in the master bath with a different Wake Word. It isn’t a huge issue but is an annoyance that could easily be avoided if the Wake Word on the 808 speakers could be changed.
The 808 Audio XL-V Smart Speaker is a good addition to 808’s audio lineup. It can function as a Bluetooth speaker, as a wired speaker or can step into the space currently occupied by the Amazon Echo. It is one of an increasing number of smart speakers with built-in Amazon Voice Services and is among the least expensive non-Amazon alternatives.
The 808 Audio XL-V Smart Speaker is $129.99 and can be ordered here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the 808 Audio XL-V Smart Speaker
What I Like: Under $130; Cool industrial design that I like; Can be used in Bluetooth, wired or WiFi mode; Decent sound
What Needs Improvement: Cannot change the Wake Word from Alexa; Must always be plugged in; The new Amazon Echo is just $99 now making this speaker MORE expensive than Amazon’s core offering