Altice Amplify launches an Alexa smart speaker at an inopportune time

Smart speakers are a hot topic these days and, unfortunately for their makers, not in a good way. Almost all three of the big names have been dragged into controversy but the very first one to be named was Amazon and its Alexa assistant. Given the heat, some might consider it bad timing to launch smart speakers using these AI assistants. That's not stopping cable provider Altice from announcing the Amplify home speaker. Fortunately, that's not its only selling feature.

It's almost unusual that a cable provider would be launching a smart speaker but its function is primarily for entertainment. For example, it offers hands-free voice control of set-top boxes, from Altice, of course. Those include changing channels or even access to streaming apps like Netflix, provided they're on the company's Altice One platform.

The feature Altice is particularly proud of is the French company Devialet's patent sound technologies. Paired with a smart TV, or a set-top box-connected TV, the Amplify promises a "powerful audio experience". Of course, these claims are meant to be heard, not read and it's going to be a while before the speakers prove their worth in the market.

Altice is, of course, also enticing customers with the idea of controlling their smart home appliances with that same device. The Amplify has access to more than 90,000 Alexa skills that range from asking trivial questions to even playing games. Support for streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and, of course, Amazon and Apple Music make it useful beyond being a partner for TVs.

All of those will cost interested buyers $499. Optimum and Suddenlink customers, however, can grab an Altice Amplify at a discounted $399 price. They'll have to wait sometime later this for that opportunity, though, as Altice hasn't given an exact date for the Amplify's launch.