The first impression of the first device “Yandex” at home.
July 10, “Yandex” starts selling its “smart” column “Yandeks.Stantsiya” – while in very limited quantities and only in its own store in Moscow . We received the device on the morning of July 9 and had time to test it a little.
And although I have already told the first impressions of the column , thoroughly touching “Yandeks.Stantsiyu” at home – it’s not the same as seeing her four-minute presentation from the hands of Yandex employee at a press conference. But to list the second time its technical features – it’s ungrateful: it’s worth to tell about impressions.
In one of the four points that seemed most important to me in connection with the release of Yandeks.Stantsii, I called the column an exhibition sample – because it clearly demonstrates the capabilities of Alice’s voice assistant, but the product itself is damp. After the first hours spent with the “Station” at home, the column no longer seems raw (although it is not as functional as we would like), and most importantly – you begin to treat Alice quite differently.
“Station” is the first physical shell of Alisa
At once I will make a reservation: yes, Alisa exists for a long time. Yes, Alice is built into the mobile Yandex.Browser, the mobile application Yandex and even to the on-board Yandex.Avto system. But in all these applications it is a secondary function: you can do without it.
In the smartphone, I generally did not take Alice as something useful: on iOS it can not integrate with the system, as Siri does, but on Android it’s much better with Google Assistant. In the case of Yandex.Auto, Alice is just an interface for data entry. Of course, this does not negate the fact that as a separate voice assistant, Alice works perfectly: for example, my brother likes to entertain a four-year-old nephew by talking with Alice through an Android smartphone, because she behaves quite humanely. But on a smartphone where it’s much easier to enter a short text on the keyboard or open a separate application, the voice assistant is not as useful as in other conditions when the keyboard is not there or it is uncomfortable.
Although the initial setup of the “Station” is performed on the smartphone, the column is controlled only by voice, volume wheel and two buttons – one activates the assistant, the other turns off his microphones. The fact that you need to constantly communicate with the column leaves an indelible impression – especially because it is a Russian-speaking and very sociable Alice ( there was no such effect with Google Home ).
If you connect Alice to a TV or a monitor, you can watch movies and TV shows, and most importantly – to see how she recognizes phrases and what she offers as a response to her answers. After a short study, its interface turns out to be quite simple: there is a main screen displaying phrase-hints, recent actions (an unreviewed movie and a listened song), time and weather – and there are separate screens for the applications “Yandex.Music”, ivi, “Amediatheks” and YouTube search engine. It is embarrassing that Yandex, as a search engine, has not built a browser into the “Station”, so, for example, it can not show pictures by request of “photo of seals” (on the smartphone, Alice, too, can not show them herself and sends them to the browser).
The main thing in Alice is how the navigation between the navigation screens occurs. This is a very natural process: to understand that you can go back to watching the movie with the phrase “Alice, let’s go back to the film,” I did not have to invent anything and read the instructions – she herself understood what I mean. Alice also behaves like a living person: the same navigation can be accompanied by slightly different phrases, which increases the feeling of naturalness of what is happening.
“Station” is a separate device: you immediately perceive it as something special, requiring voice control. Alice is very helpful in this.
Why and who needs “Yandeks.Stantsiya”
“Yandex” (like Google) builds all of its services around the data that it collects about the user. The search engine knows your search history, and its delivery for a mom-housewife from St. Petersburg and for a grandfather-motorist from Kazan is significantly different.
Yandex.Music is trained on the history of auditions (maybe not as good as Spotify, but subjectively better than Apple Music), KinoSearch knows the history of watching movies and serials (a huge database of users who formed clusters of interests), “Market” (or new “Beru”) in the course, what goods are interested in a person and what he buys. All these data the company uses to recommend something to the user – and to earn on it.
So, Yandeks.Stantsiya is not a media player or a TV set-up: these devices are needed by those who want complete control and independence of choice. A column for that and “smart”, that it either makes it easier for the user to choose (“Is there a film 1 and a film 2 that you choose?”), Or makes a choice for it (“I found a song that you might like”). If the media player and the set-top box already exist, most likely there are also habits of using them for their intended purpose, and then the “smart” column is not needed – except that it will be used by other domestic ones.
“Yandeks.Stantsiya” can come in handy when you want to listen to music, and choose something and nothing. At me such happens constantly: my library in Apple Music has already bothered me, the newest to open somehow laziness (and it is not clear where to start), and the service does not recommend anything new to me. In Yandex.Station there is no library: the device almost knows what I’m listening to, and recommends me or something old, or something new, or something related to one’s interests. This is a constant mix.
It’s the same with TV shows and movies. If I know exactly what I want to see, it’s easier for me to go into ivi or Amediathek applications directly and use the search, or download some old movie with a certain voice acting and quality from the torrents, after all. “Station” can be suitable for a situation where I myself do not know what I want: I’m sitting on the couch, I say “Alice, advise the film about love,” and a list appears immediately from several services. And to trust this list is easier: Alice is perceived by some expert of recommendations, because she already knows something about me.
“Yandeks.Stantsiyu” should be placed in the living room at the TV – it will arrange leisure.
In extreme cases, you can use the “Station” as a Bluetooth-column – for example, if you do not really want to listen to Yandex.Muzyku or the management wants to intercept someone from your friends. But for such purposes you can find a device and cheaper.
The cons and the issue of price
Of course, Yandex.Station is not an ideal device. I do not understand much about the arrangement of the speakers, but the music at the maximum volume from the “Station” sounds so-so: the bass is small, and it seems as if there is a rattling sound. At the same time watching movies with her is very good: I did not immediately realize that the sound comes from the speaker, and not from the TV, to the acoustics of which I was already accustomed. The sound quality can be improved if you remove the plastic-upholstered plastic casing – but, first, it removes the warranty for damages to the speakers, and secondly, it is the collective farm. By the way, the “Station” does not have a surround sound, like the Apple HomePod: it matters which way the speakers are turned.
Have not disappeared and the eternal problems with the misunderstanding of a number of teams. In such moments, it’s easy to get confused: for example, with a paused movie, Alice can react differently to the “Return to the film,” “Return the film,” “Turn on the film,” and “Turn the film back on”, especially if any word she does not hear well enough.
“Station” can hear the appeal of “Alice” even at the maximum loudness of the sound, however, it is necessary to noticeably raise the voice. But the fact that Alice does not react to the usual “Alice, …” treatment, strains. Well, with “memory” at the “Station” there are problems: the last running movie, she remembers, and the previous one – no (he will have to look separately in the history of views of a particular service). And if you start playing with “Cities” with her, you have to finish the game with a separate team so that she starts to react to other questions.
Some teams – seemingly obvious – Alice does not yet support. For example, she can calculate the path between points A and B, but she will not be able to order a taxi – and, as it were, willfully suggest to do it on the smartphone. In some moments it is possible to control the screen without addressing “Alice, …” – for example, in the video list you can simply say “Next” and he will go to one screen to the right – but while listening to music or watching a movie, you can not just say “Stop,” you need to always refer to Alice. Change the volume with the command “Make it loud” too slowly, with the command “Make the volume at 8 (out of 10)” – somehow not very humanly, and the wheel can be too lazy to drag from the couch.
And somehow during the playback of the movie “Station” decided to install updates without any choice and any options – and this despite the fact that when it was first turned on, it already installed updates. It was not very. Updated : in “Yandex” I was explained that roll-up of the update without demand was due to the latest preparations for the release, and promised that in the future such sharp updates will not be.
The question of price is the most important. Yandex believes that 9,900 for such a device is the norm for this product category, and maybe even cheaper than that of competitors’ devices, especially since the “Station” not only plays music, but also serves as a set-top box. But to get acquainted with this new product category for Russia, the amount still sounds noticeable. Here you need to make a discount: if you recall that the load with the column are free subscriptions for the year “Yandex.Plus” (gives access to “Music” and discounts on other services, costs 169 rubles a month), three months “Amediateki” (599 rubles per month) and two months ivi (399 rubles per month), then the price of the “Station”, it turns out, is laid about 4500 rubles for services. Another thing, if these services are not needed – well, then you do not need to buy a column either.