I first heard this speaker and it's smaller sibling at my local Best Buy. I was in the market for my first smart speaker that was based on the Google Assistant. Of course, the choices are growing as this segment grows in popularity. Not only do you have Google Home, now in three sizes, but Sony and JBL have added their take, to name a few. Really, it comes down to what you want from your speaker. I wanted something that sounded good, offered as many features as possible including portability that didn't cost a small fortune. The Insignia Voice Portable was exactly what I wanted, and more!
Why not Alexa? There are a ton of choices. Cortana? Siri? Not so many choices but both have their take on a speaker, too. For me, it's about ecosystem, and I'm in Google's way more than any other. I'm a fan of Android since the beginning and will continue to be. I prefer Google Assistant to the others. I have the option to use Alexa through some Amazon apps on my devices, which I do. As a tech nerd, I really like more having more options.
This speaker (and the smaller version) and the Sony are your only choices within Google Assistant (GA for short) if you want a display giving them an alarm clock vibe. When you set an alarm, timer, or countdown by voice or your regular device, the speaker display responds accordingly along with the confirmation by the male or female voice from Google. You can change the gender by voice.
Aside from my phone and tablet, my Nvidia Shield TV all use GA. The speaker serves as an always-on way to turn some of my lights on and off, change color and brightness of one of those lights, play music from several services and answer questions. It really does so many things. I can turn my TV on and off by voice using the Shield or my Google Chromecast. You can get YouTube videos up and running. It's fun trying commands out.
Because the GA is evolving, new features come via updates. Right now, phone calls aren't supported but may come in the future. Otherwise, you can do most anything the Google Home can do. You use the Google Home app to set it up and personalize your settings.
As a speaker, this larger version sounds great. It's got a 2.5 inch subwoofer on the bottom and with the drivers, it puts out plenty of sound. It may not be audiophile quality, but I think it's quite surprising how full and rich it is. Audio is subjective so it is hard to know how each person will interpret the sound. When casting music using Chromecast built-in, you can't use an EQ but you can if you're using Bluetooth connectivity. I find it to suit my needs perfectly. It can be part of an audio group to play music throughout your home which might appeal to you.
If you want to change the brightness of the display, change the volume, manually prompt Google Assistant, you can use the capacitive buttons on top which use a proximity sensor to detect your hand. You can set it to lower the volume to 20 by waving your hand over the top. That feature used to be mandatory but an update changed that, along with some other features mentioned in earlier reviews. The temperature display stays on for a minute after you all the local temp or anywhere in the world. It also comes on if you ask for the local forecast. It's a little thing but I like having that feature and it makes it unique.
The box states it's battery lasts five hours. I've been getting longer than that by an hour or more, depending on what you do while it's running on the battery. The display flashes when it should be plugged in and you can check the battery level with buttons. There are different combinations of the three buttons for different tasks. There's a button on the back to mute the microphone, turn it off or reset the unit.
Next time your in your local Best Buy, try it out. I know it's hard to fully appreciate sound while in a store but you can get a good idea. Insignia really did a great job with this speaker. It doesn't feel cheap at all. It doesn't come in white or a similar color, but the dark colors should fit in with the decor of most homes, if that's important to you. Overall, I think most people will share my enthusiasm. Thanks for reading!