Harman Kardon wants to sell you a $600 smart speaker

When the smart speaker market first emerged, the focus was on bringing voice-controlled music, answering basic questions, and controlling the smart home. Premium sound quality was far from the main focus, however. In 2018 this is no longer the case, with options like the Google Home Max, Apple HomePod, and even the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Home all promising a higher-tier sound experience. Now Harman Kardon wants to get into the game with the Harman Kardon Citation 500.

If you thought the HomePod and Max’s $350-$400 asking price was hefty, you might balk at the nearly $600 ($599.95) asking price for the Citation 500. But what does that high asking price get you? Let’s take a look.

Harman Kardon Citation 500 screams premium when it comes to what’s inside

On the hardware front, the Citation 500 packs 200W stereo speakers with support for 24Bits/96Khz audio streaming, Google Assistant support, and even Chromecast integration. Unfortunately, most companies aren’t so clear on listing hardware specs so we can’t say how that compares to the likes of the HomePod, Sonos, or other premium audio solutions. But we can wager that Harman is throwing its very best at the Citation 500.

Another cool, premium feature we’ve never seen before is the addition of an LCD touchscreen that shows information about the track, what it’s doing, and gives you some touch control over your speaker. This is a little bit like a halfway point between a traditional smart speaker and a smart display — and certainly is unique.

When can we expect the Harman Kardon Citation 500 to arrive?

The Harman Kardon Citation 500 will be shown off later this month at IFA 2018. As for when it will hit store shelves? Pre-orders begin in late September, priced at $697 or £549. That’s a tough asking price when the competition is so fierce, but hopefully this time Harman Kardon can find an audience, which is more than we can say for the Cortana-powered Invoke.

We’ll be sure to get a closer look at IFA and update you when we learn more about Harman Kardon’s latest smart speaker.

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