With so many different smart speakers on the market currently, newcomers have to find some way of standing out. It isn’t enough to release a smart speaker that supports Alexa anymore, because when the presence of a smart assistant becomes the standard, you need another hook to pull people in. Toshiba seems to realize this, launching a new smart speaker called Symbio that apparently wants to do it all.
To call Symbio a smart speaker is underselling it a bit, at least according to Toshiba. To hear its maker explain it, Symbio rolls six smart home cornerstones into one product, acting as “a wireless security camera, smart speaker, voice control with Amazon Alexa, an intercom, smart sound detector and an expandable smart home hub.” The hope, of course, is that all of this functionality will drive people to Symbio as it means they won’t need to shell out for multiple smart home devices.
Symbio doesn’t seem to slouch when it comes to being a multi-faceted device. As a security camera, it can capture wide-angle 1080p video and stream it to your smartphone, providing motion detection alerts throughout the day. It can also monitor for loud sounds and send a notification to your phone if it picks up anything out of the ordinary (such as the beeping of a legacy smoke detector).
Beyond its capabilities as a smart speaker with Alexa, the biggest draw of the Symbio might be the fact that it can serve as a smart home hub for third-party IoT devices using Z-Wave or ZigBee. The Symbio and its IoT connections are managed using the Symbio app, which functions like any other companion app for these smart home hubs like Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Toshiba will be showing off Symbio at CES 2018 next week, but it’s available for purchase now if you’ve decided that this is the smart home speaker for you. It’s currently available from Amazon for $249.99, which is a fair bit more expensive than some other smart home speakers. Considering everything it attempts to do, though, it could very well end up being worth that higher price tag.