It appears Alexa is a trendsetter: LG will debut its SmartThinQ Hub next month and it looks very much like an Amazon Echo. LG introduced the cylindrical hub on Wednesday and the resemblance is unmistakable.
There are some differences though, the main one being a 3.5-inch LCD display atop the SmartThinQ Hub, which can show information such as the time, local weather, your next calendar event and more. LG also chose to use a metal casing for the outer shell; consumers can choose either a Champagne Gold or a Black unit when it arrives on sale.
At the heart of the hub is a Bluetooth speaker, which can be used to stream music from iHeartRadio or a wirelessly connected mobile device. And it will "collect information" from smart, connected products around the home.
LG makes no mention of any microphones inside the SmartThinQ Hub, nor any voice controls, however. Instead, it highlights a smartphone app that will "facilitate two way communication with smart appliances and smart sensors in the home."
By ditching voice commands, I'd say on paper the SmartThinQ Hub is already lacking compared to Amazon's Echo as voice control is a key feature in Amazon's product. You don't need to have a smartphone handy or nearby to use the Echo: You simply speak to the product.
As far as the types of sensors and devices LG's hub will work with it's a good start.
LG's product will work with others that support the open AllSeen Alliance of devices, Lowe's Iris products and SmartThinQ sensors using Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Bluetooth standards.
LG says that will allow the SmartThinQ Hub to communicate with a number of sensors, robotic vacuum cleaners, air conditioners and home appliances, such as washing machines, ovens and refrigerators; items which LG just happens to manufacture.
Expect price and availability information for the new hub early next month at the Consumer Electronics Show where LG will be showing off the product.