We were lucky enough to check out a demo of the Xperia Agent, Sony’s rival to the Amazon Echo home assistant, at the company’s new Tokyo HQ. Here’s our full thoughts on the Sony Xperia Agent and how it fits into your connected home.
Sony’s home helper, the Xperia Agent, is only in the prototype stage right now but it’s already sounding like a serious rival to Amazon Echo. Using the same voice tech as Sony’s Xperia Ear, the Xperia Agent will basically sit in a room in your home and react to your voice commands, like a physical version of Siri or Google Now.
The Agent looks like a cross between a mini robot and a coffee machine, complete with a ‘face’ that animates when the Agent is on duty. That front panel is actually a secondary display that offers up useful information, which is also spoken out loud in case you’re out of sight.
Because the Xperia Agent connects to your phone, you can get it to search for any kind of info such as travel reports, weather updates and so on, as well as make calls (handy for speakerphone conversations when your hands are busy, or when you want the whole family in on the call).
Even cooler is the built-in projector, which pops out to beam images onto the tabletop in front of the Agent. So for instance, you can get the Agent to show you a photo feed from your social networks, or play a video. The projected image isn’t massive, but at least it’s clear and colourful.
The Xperia Agent will be of most benefit if you don’t carry your phone on your person when you’re chilling at home (for instance, if you leave it charging in your bedroom, or you simply don’t like wearing pants).
After all, pretty much everything that the Agent does can also be done on your phone. That said, the Agent will also be a handy way for your entire household to control your IoT accessories, without all of you having to download the same apps onto your phones. It’s also cute as hell, so we can’t help but like it, even if it’s more of a luxury gadget than a must-have device.
Right now the Xperia Agent is still a ‘working concept’, so the Agent’s functionality is likely to change before it hits market. And Sony doesn’t even have a vague idea of a possible Agent release date, so it may be many months – or perhaps even another year – before we finally see it in stores.
Read next: Hands-on Sony Xperia Ear review