Today I received a press release for VOCO, an IP music system operated by voice control.
I was skeptical at first. OK, I’m still skeptical because I haven’t actually seen the system yet, but the more I think about it the more I like the idea.
Imagine walking into a room where your kids are blasting the Glee soundtrack and all you have to do is shout, “Turn that down,” and voilà, the volume goes down.
Of course it’s not as simple as that. The voice control comes via an app on your Android smartphone or tablet (iPad/.iPhone app coming later), so you still have to pull out your device, open the app, and then tell it what to do. You probably have to speak slowly too, but I really don’t know yet.
Also, according the information on the web site, you can’t control volume with your voice, so there goes my fantasy. What it does do is allow you to search for track or stations (internet radio) via voice commend, and that I like a lot. If you’ve a large list of favorite stations or a music library in the thousands, tapping your way through all that can be a pain. Being able to speak out “Play Black Flag” and have the thing do it would really impress house guests, and that’s what most gadgets are for anyway.
The VOCO music system looks to have other cool things going for it too. You hook up a $199 V-Zone (Google that at your own peril) Wi-Fi receiver to your audio system, load the app, go through the setup process, and then start speaking demands into your phone or tab. You can configure it into a multiroom system with the addition of more zone receivers and powered speakers. It can also connect you to YouTube videos via the smart phone.
According to the news I received, two more products (pictured below) will also be shown at the CEDIA Expo in September. The V-Spot (sorry, that’s a tacky name and also a vegan restaurant) and the V-Zone Pro. One looks to be a speaker, probably with a built-in V-Zone receiver. The other I’m not sure about. When Tom at VOCO calls me back I’ll update this.
So this appears to be a slightly Sonos-like system (without the proprietary wireless distribution), but it allows access to internet radio, iTunes collections and control of multiple zones. Also, according to the video review, it streams the content through your PC so you need to keep that turned on. As a big Sonos fan, I’m anxious to check this out in person to see how it matches up. Stay tuned.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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