The market for gadgets with built-in voice assistants is developing very dynamically today, although the virtual assistants themselves can still be counted on one hand. “Marusya” from the well-known Russian technology corporation Mail.ru Group can be called a newcomer among them. Despite this, the assistant is developing quite quickly and successfully. Following a software application for smartphones and its own smart speaker Mail.ru, the first device from an independent manufacturer appeared on the market – ASBISC Enterprises Plc., Which owns the Prestigio brand, released a compact version of a speaker with “Marusya”. The Prestigio SmartVoice model is positioned by the manufacturer as a device “for good music, new knowledge and endless inspiration”. Sounds tempting!
⇡ #Contents of delivery
The column is delivered in a small cube-shaped box made of very thick cardboard. Together with the main device inside, we found only a power adapter with a removable USB cable for connecting the speaker to a household power supply and a small printed manual for initial setup in Russian.
The delivery set is standard – exactly the same as for similar products. It is only worth adding that it also includes a three-month free VK Combo subscription, which provides discounts on various services (taxi, food ordering, shopping), but, most importantly, provides unlimited access to the services “Music VKontakte” and BOOM, from where ” Marusya “puts musical compositions at the request of its owner. The cost of a subscription to VK Combo at the time of this writing was 149 rubles per month.
|Speaker||1 × 44 mm|
|Frequency range, Hz||180-18,000|
|Food||5V, Micro USB|
|Wireless connection||Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n, 2.4GHz |
Bluetooth 4.2 (connection radius 10m)
|Microphones||4 things. |
Radius of action up to 6 m
|Audio output||1 × 3.5mm|
|Dimensions, mm||90 × 90 × 60|
|Average retail price *, rub.||3990|
* Average price for “Yandex.Market” at the time of writing.
The column is built on a single speaker with a diameter of 44 mm. There is no complete information about its type, and it is almost impossible to disassemble the device without damaging its casing. There is also no data on the layout of the speaker inside, but, most likely, it is located horizontally, as in other similar devices.
The device has two built-in wireless modules – Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n and Bluetooth 4.2. Using Wi-Fi, Prestigio SmartVoice connects to the Internet via any network in the room. Like other similar devices, without the Internet, Prestigio SmartVoice turns into a regular speaker without a voice assistant. “Marusya” “comes to life” only if there is an Internet connection. From the global network, she receives answers to your questions, directions and, of course, music.
Using Bluetooth, the speaker can be connected directly to any sound source, making it the very center of your party or using only its wireless signal transmission capabilities. In the latter case, Prestigio SmartVoice can be connected to any other external speaker system that does not have its own wireless data transmission module. For this, the speaker has a standard 3.5 mm audio line-out. But the new product does not have a cable entrance – the manufacturer did not provide for such a connection option.
As for the power supply, everything is simple: the column requires external power supply via USB, without which it will not work. There is no built-in battery. However, it is not at all necessary to connect this device to an electrical outlet – there is a Micro USB connector for power on board, and the power of the speaker requires little, so it will be enough to connect it to the USB port of any computer.
⇡ #Appearance and ergonomics
The speaker comes in four colors: light gray, dark gray, blue and red. Moreover, not only the cylindrical plastic case of Prestigio SmartVoice is painted in these colors, but also the fabric mesh stretched along the perimeter of the lateral surface. Only in the light gray version is this fabric noticeably darker than the rest of the body parts. It was in this color that the column came to us for testing.
The shape of the device resembles a washer, the height of which is noticeably less than the diameter. The lower and upper edges are rounded, and there are four control buttons on the upper plane, with which you can adjust the sound volume, mute the microphone, stop playback or turn off the speaker altogether. All the same actions, of course, can be performed with the help of voice commands, but in many situations it can be faster or more convenient to reach the buttons of the speaker standing next to you on the table. There are four small holes between the buttons that hide the built-in microphones. Below, in a small recess on the case, there are connectors: audio output and Micro USB for connecting the power cable.
There is also a wide silicone ring at the bottom, thanks to which the column does not slip, no matter what surface it stands on. In general, the design of the novelty is simple, but pleasing to the eye. In light gray, Prestigio SmartVoice will surely easily fit into any interior. If you want something extravagant, then you can choose a column in other, brighter coloring.
⇡ #Connectivity, capabilities, and work experience
Despite the lack of an opportunity to talk to “Marusya” before connecting the speaker to the Internet, she herself is happy to talk about how to bring it online, immediately after turning on the speaker. To connect Prestigio SmartVoice to your home local network, you need to download the “Marusya” application and install it on your smartphone running Android or iOS. This is a voice assistant that can be used on a smartphone without a speaker. To access the speaker settings and the voice assistant, you first need to log in using Mail.ru mail or your VKontakte account. The latter will also be needed to play music through the BOOM online service, as well as for calls using the built-in address book. As we mentioned earlier, without a subscription to VK Combo and BOOM services, the speaker will not be able to play audio content from the VKontakte network, but it will answer your questions or play games. You can also turn on some kind of Internet radio station – this does not require a paid subscription.
To connect the speaker, you need to go to the “My devices” section in the application, enable search and select a wireless network with Internet access. The connection went quickly and without any overlaps or additional questions. In the application settings, you can adjust the speaker volume, activate the reminder mode, allow or deny calls using the speaker, and find out full information about the device. Well, then – you can enjoy communication with AI in the person of “Marusya”.
At the beginning of any question starting with “Maroussia, …” the column dies down, and on its top panel, under the light gray plastic, a multi-colored LED indicator lights up, informing that the request has been accepted. It is noteworthy that Prestigio SmartVoice accepts questions even when it is connected to a sound source via Bluetooth. If, at the time of the request, some music from the smartphone is played through the speaker, then it is paused, “Marusya” answers the question, and if it does not imply further communication, the music continues to play again. It is very convenient. The SBC codec is used to transmit sound via Bluetooth.
“Marusya” has a lot of opportunities. She copes with some questions quite cheerfully, but others seem too complicated to her, about which she immediately informs her interlocutor. This mainly concerns detailed questions, but she also cannot give an answer to some simple ones. For example, to the question “What color is a tiger’s stripes?” “Marusia” answers: “But life did not prepare me for this!” Also, the disadvantages of management include the fact that “Marusya” requires each time to refer to itself by name. It is worth completing one phrase, as “Marusya” no longer perceives the second, unless at first you again say the cherished “Marusya …”.
But she counts well, plays several dozen voice games, tells fairy tales, anecdotes and news, makes riddles, suggests recipes for delicious dishes and does much more. When you activate the children’s mode of operation, “Marusya” will search for content targeted exclusively to this audience of users. It also does more useful things, such as, for example, telling about the weather forecast or current exchange rates, setting an alarm clock and any voice reminder for a specific date and time. She can also calculate the time required to travel to a certain place, translate any phrases into different languages and much more. You can ask Marusya herself about all the skills she has, or you can find out about them on the pages of Mail.ru or Prestigio.
But the most interesting thing is that “Marusya” slowly remembers your habits and learns. For example, on the first question about turning on the radio, she will put the first radio station she comes across, which you probably will not like. You will refine the request and get the desired result. And next time on the same question without specifying “Marusya” will turn on the station you already need. The same applies to the songs being played. Using the voice assistant, you can create your own playlists or play the playlists of friends from VKontakte.
In the mobile application, you can connect not only the speaker, but also other smart devices with smart home functions. These can be vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, kettles, lighting elements and other household appliances of various well-known brands. They can be controlled by voice – using the Prestigio SmartVoice speaker and “Marusi”.
The microphone sensitivity of Prestigio SmartVoice is good. Even at full volume when playing music, “Maroussia” responds to its name, if you pronounce it clearly and clearly, even from a distance of two or three meters from the speaker. If you do not swallow half of the sounds when you speak, then “Marusia” will understand you without problems, if, of course, your request is clear to her in principle. Mistakes do happen, but rarely. One flaw was noticed in the volume control. So, on the request “Turn up the volume by ten percent”, “Marusya” sets the sound volume level at the level of ten percent of the total range, and does not turn up the volume as requested. Developers should pay attention to this flaw, which is probably not difficult to fix in the near future.
As for the sound of Prestigio SmartVoice, no miracles should be expected here. The column is compact, with a single speaker, and therefore it does not have pronounced bass, but it sounds smooth and clear at mid and high frequencies. Sound is heard anywhere around the speaker, which confirms our theory of horizontal speaker placement inside the cabinet. And this baby also has a high maximum volume level: for a room of twenty square meters, under certain circumstances, this speaker will be quite enough to have fun with friends – with music or “Marusya” games.
Smart speaker Prestigio SmartVoice will appeal to active users of the VKontakte network and VK Combo subscribers. Without a subscription, the speaker will only be able to play music either from a smartphone or by connecting to Internet radio stations. Also, this device can be recommended as a control center for smart home devices. Among the main advantages of the novelty are the following:
- good looks and high quality workmanship;
- sound around the speaker;
- high level of maximum volume;
- fully manual control function;
- parallel connection to a sound source via Bluetooth;
- voice assistant “Marusya”.
Prestigio SmartVoice has no significant drawbacks – everything in it fully meets the expectations. As for the AI built into it, that is, “Marusya”, there are also no serious shortcomings. And although “Marusya” can not always answer the question posed, the developers are actively developing and refining it. Until recently, she did not always know how to perform simple arithmetic operations, but today she already searches and voices a variety of information from the Internet without any problems.
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