There are a lot of cool things out there that make us wonder — do they really work? In our I Tried It series, we set out to use them in the real world and have determined that, in fact, they really do.
The Tester: Stefan Vazharov — a senior tech editor who’s constantly searching for a new favorite gadget.
The Brief: The Belkin SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi Smart Speaker + Wireless Charger, as its name suggests, seamlessly blends two useful tech accessories into one awesome product.
This speaker was among our favorite products of CES 2020, because it is the result of a collaboration between two leading tech brands in different product categories. Belkin wireless chargers have been among our favorites for a long time, while Devialet speakers are recognized for delivering thunderous sound with incredible quality.
Powered by the mighty Google Assistant, the SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi is a high-quality smart speaker with a convenient (and fast) wireless charging dock for smartphones on top. Considering the stellar credentials of its makers, I was excited to be able to test it out.
First of all, I was surprised by this smart speaker's compact size. The speaker is about size of an Apple HomePod, and compared to other Devialet speakers, that’s small. I found it to be just the right size to place on the windowsill of my living room, as well as my nightstand.
Available in black or white, the device’s stylish fabric cover ensures that it will easily blend into just about anywhere. Both color options come with a matching base and charging dock.
The sound quality of the SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi is unsurprisingly fantastic, courtesy of Devialet’s proprietary tech. The latter guarantees powerful sound with powerful bass and no distortion, even at high volume levels.
I enjoyed blasting Symphonik — Thievery Corporation’s latest album — to test out this speaker. There was an easily discernible harmony between the orchestral tunes, the voices of the vocalists, and the duo’s chill-inspiring, incredibly mellow beats. Podcasts and Google Assistant weather reports sounded crisp and clear as well.
Equipped with a duo of far-field microphones, the speaker picked up my Google Assistant voice commands regardless of the volume level. Discreetly placed lights underneath the fabric cover will let you know when the virtual assistant is paying attention. There’s also a button for disabling the microphones if you wish — it’s conveniently located next to the playback and the volume controls.
Setting up the Belkin SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi smart speaker is as easy as plugging it into a power outlet, downloading the Google Home app, and following the onscreen instructions. And like all products with the Google Assistant on board, the Belkin SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi has Chromecast multiroom audio playback. Bluetooth connectivity is also on board, just in case Wi-Fi is not available.
There are no surprises about the wireless charging functionality of the product. With a maximum power output of 10 watts, the accessory can rapidly replenish the battery of just about any smartphone. I used it to charge an iPhone 11 Pro and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra with no trouble at all.
Closing argument: Priced at $299.99, the Belkin SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi is a bit pricey. However, it is considerably more attainable than other Devialet speakers. If you are looking for top-quality sound in a conveniently small package (along with a convenient place to wirelessly charge your phone), this is the smart speaker to get.
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