Many consider Yandex to be the Google of Russia.
Both companies were founded around the same time – 1997 for Yandex, and 1998 for Google – and both companies make the most popular search engines in their respective countries. Yandex is also the largest technology company in all of Russia.
The two companies are about to share even more in common. This week, Yandex announced it will be getting into smart speakers, an area that Google entered only two years ago with its Home device. The Yandex Station, pictured above, will cost about 10,000 Rubles, or $US160, and only be sold in Russia.
Still, if the thought of a smart speaker makes you uncomfortable, especially after one couple in Portland, Oregon said their Amazon Echo Dot recorded their conversation and randomly sent it to a person in their contacts, we can only imagine the kind of fears one might have about a Russian-made smart speaker.
Nevertheless, take a look at the new Yandex Station:
Like most smart speakers, the Yandex Station is designed for basic proletarian needs like creating alarms and playing music hands-free — but you can also hook it up to your TV to play movies and shows, or adjust the volume, using only your voice.
The Yandex Station is powered by Yandex’s AI, named Alice, which the company unveiled in 2017. You can ask Alice to create alarms and reminders, read the news, get the weather, and more. For kids, you can even ask Alice to sing songs or read fairy tales.
Yandex also says the Station comes with seven microphones that can pick up your voice even if it’s noisy in the room, and can respond “almost instantly — within a second.”
In terms of sound quality, Yandex says the Station is “just right for a small house party.” The speaker itself features two tweeters for high frequencies, plus two radiators and a woofer for deep bass.
The Station can play music as a standalone speaker, but you can also hook it up your TV to play shows and movies. You can control the volume and playback with your voice, and an “Ask Alice” feature can help you figure out which movie or TV show to watch next.
To emphasise its role as a TV set-top box, Yandex will give you free three months of access to <a href=”http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/amedia-hbo-deal-game-of-thrones-1202505651/ “target=”_blank”>Amedia</a>, the exclusive home for all HBO content in Russia.
Buying the Yandex Station also comes with a free year’s worth of access to Yandex.Music, the company’s music streaming service. The music service is free with Yandex’s new Amazon Prime-like “Plus” subscription service, which the company also announced alongside the Station speaker this week.
Buying a Yandex Station also gives you two free months to ivi, one of the top subscription streaming services in Russia for movies, TV shows, cartoons, and other video content.
Yandex doesn’t have any word on an exact release date for the Station, but you can <a href=”https://station.yandex.ru/#amediateka”target=”_blank”>sign up on their website</a> to be alerted when that information becomes available.
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