March 21, 2021 4:16:13 pm
The market for smart speakers is still relatively small but growing quickly. However, it is largely monopolised by devices from big players like Amazon and its Echo speakers or the Apple Homepods. Hence we were excited to try out the new Zebronics Smart Bot, a smart home speaker by homegrown audio brand Zebronics that packs a couple of handy features including the ability to control all your IR-based devices at home.
Here’s our complete review of the Zebronics Smart Bot.
A hard plastic body comprises most of the Zeb Smart Bot body. The mesh design manages to look funky but not in a very impressive way. Not everybody will be a fan of this design. On the top are four microphones that catch your voice commands and four action buttons that are used to manually control volume, mute the microphone and to trigger Alexa. You also get these functionalities via the Zebronics companion app.
Near the top edge of the speaker, you have what is perhaps the most interesting bit of this speaker, a 360-degree IR belt that can communicate with devices in all directions. This lets you use the speaker as an IR blaster for all IR-based devices you have in your room. These may include a TV, an AC and other appliances.
The IR blaster of the Zeb Smart Bot can be used to first connect to all the devices you have in the room. The pairing process is the same tedious, trial-and-error-based one as you might have witnessed on any IR-based smartphone or universal remote control. Thankfully, it is a one-time process setting up your devices.
Once that is done, you can control all your IR devices via the Zeb Smart Bot. What’s cool about this is that the smart bot effectively turns all your IR-based devices into voice-controlled ‘smart’ devices even if they are very basic appliances, as long as they are controlled by IR and within range.
Placing the Zeb Smart Bot in a position where it can reach all your devices from one spot may be a slight challenge depending on your home setup. Unless your AC is ridiculously high up, you should be fine placing the Zeb Smart Bot somewhere between 5ft-7ft from the floor.
Other Alexa features also work great here, including using the assistant to play music, answer some general knowledge questions or even tell you the weather forecast. While the microphone detection is fairly good from all directions, you might miss a trigger or two when music is playing at high volumes.
Note that the Zeb Smart Bot will require you to use both the Zeb Smart Home app as well as the Amazon Alexa app for maximum functionality. The Smart Bot will also require your Wi-Fi to be set to 2.4GHz as it doesn’t support the 5GHz band yet.
The Zeb Smart Bot gives a 5W sound output that is fairly average but not very good at lower frequencies. However, the limitations of a typical 5W sound output apply here as higher volumes will sometimes distort crisp vocals and bass drops don’t have quite the thump to them. However, this is comparable to other smart speakers in the segment.
Verdict: Should you buy the Zeb Smart Bot?
The Zeb Smart Bot is not the only smart speaker out there, but its IR-based feature-set makes it a very unique proposition at the price of Rs 3,699. Yes, it isn’t the best sounding speaker out there, but the difference in audio quality between this and an Amazon Echo device of the same price point is not enough to make this a deal-breaker.
On the other hand, the Zeb Smart Bot can be a magical device for your room if you have IR-based appliances like a TV, an AC, a set-top-box, a DVD player or similar devices.
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