Alexa-powered Sonos One speaker takes aim at hi-fi home hubs

Rock on, Alexa

It looks like we’re coming up on a new tech arms race, and it’s not cell phones, self-driving cars, VR headsets or any of that trivial stuff. No, it’s the pitched battle between tech heavyweights over who can make the best sounding smart home hub. Forget AI and Mars settlements, it seems like everyone is amping up the audio performance of their home hubs, from Apple’s HomePod to the Google Home Max boombox.

And one major player now in the race: Sonos, the company that’s been making connected home audio systems for years now. They’ve teamed with Amazon to add Alexa to the Sonos One wireless speaker and home hub, and not unexpectedly, it sounds great. And along the way, Sonos took the time to make setup and integration super-simple. Anyone can appreciate that. And hey, even the price is a winner: just $200, which sounds good to us. Check out our complete video review of the Sonos One.

Not sure if this is a great idea or a really bad one

Speaking of things Alexa related, Amazon says the killer app on the horizon for Alexa is hands-free video calling. We’ve gotten a taste of it with the new Amazon Alexa Show device, which is a smart home hub with a video screen and camera for making just such a call. I mean, it’s like we’re living in the future or something.

But that’s just what an Amazon VP said at a recent Alexa Accelerator event, according to CNBC. He said the ability to make calls – and especially video calls – hands free could be the next big thing and even change the way we use cell phones, at least at home for now. His vision included making and taking calls, video or otherwise, using just our voice with a little help from Alexa.

Sure, some of us do this already with Siri and other AI helpers, but Amazon thinks that with the sudden and widespread adoption of smart home hubs – especially theirs, of course – making calls like the Jetsons will eventually be the way we talk to everyone. We’ll see.

Orbiting around the future of driving

When most of us think of cars made by Volvo, sleek machines with big horsepower usually don’t come to mind. Well, this new Volvo maychange your mind.

It’s the new Volvo PoleStar 1, and it’s packing some serious style, tech and power. Polestar is Volvo’s performance partner, and together, they’ve stuffed both a high-performance gas engine and a pair of electric motors into the sleek sedan, for a total of 600 horsepower and over 700 foot-pounds of torque. Not exactly your mom’s 240 DL, right? But what’s all that power worth if you’re just creeping along in rush-hour traffic trying to get to soccer practice?

Volvo gets it, and the Polestar 1 can also go over 90 miles on electricity alone, with the two rear-wheel electric motors putting out over 200 horsepower, which is more than enough juice for freeway speeds and enough range for your daily commute. Then, just plug it in at home. Gas? Hey, sounds pretty optional to us. And it looks great.

Too bad they’re only going to make 500 of them. And by the way, it’s also the last of its kind, as all future Polestar Volvos car are going to be all-electric as the company looks to go head-to-head with Tesla – and pretty much every other automaker  – as the electric car era begins in earnest. Well, done, Volvo.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.