There’s a slew of gadgets and options being announced this week at CES in Las Vegas that will deliver Alexa voice capabilities across a wide range of devices – including PCs. There’s even a couple that allow you to put Alexa into your car, including one from Garmin (which we’ve talked about before) and another one from a company called Anker. But, I’ve been testing one for the last couple weeks that started as an Indiegogo campaign by a company called Speak Music.
The Speak Music device is called the ‘Muse.’ During the beta phase, the Muse was just $35. But, the beta has ended now, and the Muse will be bumped to its final retail price soon of $75. However, the Muse is now being sold on Amazon for a bit less than $50: Muse Auto – Alexa Voice Assistant for Cars
Muse is easy to setup. You just connect your smartphone to your car stereo using the method you currently use (Bluetooth, audio wire, or USB) install the Muse hardware in your car and connect it to your smartphone (either over Bluetooth or the provided, wired audio connection) then install the Muse app on you smartphone and run it. The Muse app must be running in the background on your smartphone, but one its setup and running, Alexa works exactly like she does in your house using one of the Amazon (or 3rd party) speakers. In fact, everything works – from voice calling to skills to smart home commands – absolutely everything.
OK…there are a couple caveats here. I’m not going to sugarcoat the device and compare it to the invention of sliced bread. And, after reading some of the user complaints about this device I’ll address those here.
Some have said that its difficult for Alexa to hear you at times. And, this is most certainly true. The speaker that comes with the Muse isn’t very different than the speakers included with hands-free calling gadgets. And, just like those, the speaker needs to be installed in just the right spot inside the car otherwise your voice has to compete with road noise, the radio, other people talking, etc. Like those calling devices, the best placement for the Muse is near your mouth, so make sure to plan accordingly. But, even that sometimes doesn’t offer the ultimate solution. Even installed in just the right spot, Alexa can have difficulty hearing you sometimes and she definitely has problems hearing a passenger sitting in the backseat. But, that’ s why Speak Music developed the Muse so that it can be detached from its installed based (the speaker attaches to the base magnetically and the base attached via an adhesive sticker) and moved around the car. If Alexa is having trouble hearing you, just put her closer to your mouth. If someone in the backseat wants to select the Amazon Prime Music or Spotify playlist, just hand the Alexa speaker to them in the backseat. Speak Music made the Muse cord long enough to easily reach the back of the car.
But, still the Muse speaker is small and is in no way as good as the one’s providing by Amazon and other 3rd parties for your home. I’m not sure you can expect this size of speaker to do much better.
The other issue that tends to come up is the delay between soliciting Alexa and her response. Remember, this is Bluetooth. Bluetooth has come a long way, but its still an iffy connection technology. The Muse still has to connect (through Bluetooth) to your smartphone and then the Muse app has to connect with Amazon’s Alexa services, and then your smartphone still has to connect (through Bluetooth in most cases) to your car stereo. That’s a lot of connection requests bouncing around. This can sometimes cause a delay in response from Alexa. The delay isn’t really noteworthy, though. My biggest delay so far may have been 2 seconds. But, for those who like to complain, the delay compared to their home Alexa devices probably seems like an eternity. So, yes — there can be a delay but nothing that totally destroys the value of having the full power of Alexa in your car.
My family has really integrated Alexa into their daily lives and this actually surprised me at first. When I suggested we might be able to put Alexa in the car using the Muse, the wife immediately said ‘yes.’ That also surprised me. The Muse is just another step in our Alexa evolution here and it has already proved its value in convenience and capability.
Yes…there are other options becoming available, but so far those are less capable (the Anker version) and more expensive (the Garmin Speak is $150). For now, the Muse is the perfect combination of features and price.
- THE POWER OF ALEXA – IN YOUR CAR
- NO SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED
- HANDS-FREE CALLING
- EVERYTHING IS INCLUDED
- SUPER EASY INSTALLATION
- PRIVACY WHEN YOU NEED IT
(tap or click each photo for a larger view)
Follow me on Twitter
Add me to your Google+ circles
Connect with me on LinkedIn
Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in Dallas, Texas in 2018!