The iLive Concierge is one of the first stand-alone speakers to use the Amazon Alexa voice service (AVS). The iLive Concierge emulates the Amazon Echo in both design and capabilities. The goal of the Concierge is, however, to be even better than the original Amazon Echo. It offers several important features that are missing in the Echo.
About The Device
iLive gives their Alexa device the ability to play the same music on more than one Concierge/speaker at the same time. This whole-house music solution is woefully missing in the Amazon Echo. The iLive Concierge also offers a built-in battery so that you can move it about the house without it being plugged in. Again, something that the Amazon Echo cannot do.
The iLive Concierge is very similar in design to the Amazon Echo. It is a cylindrical device 7-1/4″ high and 3″ in diameter. Compared to the Amazon Echo which is 9.25″ high and 3.3″ in diameter, the Concierge is only slightly smaller. The Concierge, however, weighs only 0.94 pounds, compared to the Echo at 2.34 pounds. Its weight and slightly slimmer profile give it more portability.
The iLive Concierge has a woven cloth that covers most of the device. One inch around the top is covered in a plastic material. The control strip that runs down the side of the device is covered in a leather-like material. Like the Amazon Echo, the Concierge has a light ring around the top, but it does not control the volume. Instead, this is done by a strip of speaker controls and inputs on the side of the device.
This strip includes controls to turn the Alexa microphone on and off. There is also a plus and minus volume control. It also has a connect Wi-Fi/pair Bluetooth button that also acts as a play/pause button. Under that is a power/mode button that turns the speaker on or off. This button can also be used to switch between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and aux modes. At the bottom is a micro USB port for charging and an aux port.
Setup of the iLive Concierge speaker is very easy, but it’s to be noted that you will need both the iLive app and the Alexa app from Amazon, as well as an Amazon account. You will not be able to setup the device without these three things. You can of course always use a family members or friends Amazon account if they allow you to if you don’t have one yourself. But who doesn’t have an Amazon account at this point in life?
It’s also worth noting that while the iLive Alexa speaker can use most of the functions that the Amazon Echo performs, there are things that this speaker can’t do, such as Alexa calling and messaging. She can however do most everything else such as talk to you, tell you jokes, turn your lights on and off and those types of things.
Adding a lithium ion rechargeable battery to this device was a great idea. However there are two caveats. First the Concierge came with a charging cable with a USB end, but without a wall plug. Did iLive actually expect us to take the Concierge over to our computers to charge it up? This isn’t ideal for most people, though for some it will work just fine. Second, the battery life could be better. While iLive rates it at about 6 hours, my devices playing music at Volume 5 lasted only 4 1/2 – 5 hours. Fully recharging the device can take hours. Unfortunately the device has no battery power indicator.
To me battery life is pretty important on a device like this that’s meant to be pretty portable and on-the-go if you will. 4 – 5 hours isn’t bad for most things, but for a lot of things that’s not very decent.
Like the Amazon Echo, the Concierge has good surround speakers. While the treble is excellent, to my ears, there is a definite lack of bass. To a lot of people bass isn’t the most important, but for someone like myself, a do like a bit of bass in even amounts with treble and clarity and crispness of the overall sound.
The Concierge can play music from all the major services like Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, and TuneIn. You can also pair the Concierge to Bluetooth devices to play music from your phone or notebook. The Concierge also has an Aux port so you can attach other speakers. iLive even provides a 3.5 mm audio cable for this purpose. None of the other major voice-activated devices have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the ability to sling the music to an Aux port. So the Concierge beats them all here.
Like the Google Home, you can have two or more Concierge devices playing the same music at the same time. You can also use its Wi-Fi capacities to add other speakers which can be synchronized. Unfortunately the implementation of this is problematic.
To synchronize two Concierge devices you must use the iLive app. While this is easy to do but you still have to reach for your phone or tablet to tie the two devices together. With Google Home, you simply set up a group and tell Google to play music to that group. You only need to set up the group once. Each Google device will still work independently to perform tasks like answering questions. With the Concierge devices, once you combine the devices, only one will still function like an Alexa-enabled device. The others will become “slaves” incapable of answering questions or performing other Alexa functions. To stop the music synchronization and re-enable the Alexa capabilities of the “slave” devices, you must separate the devices in the app. Also there is no physical indication of which device is Alexa and which is the slave, which can be confusing.
iLive markets the Concierge as an Alexa-enabled Wi-Fi- speaker rather than a voice assistant. This is important because in some instances, like the one above, it will be only a speaker not a voice assistant.
Overall I’m decently satisfied with the iLive speaker. It’s far from the best but far from the worst. It’s still relatively new to the market features that I’m sure iLive will expand on and listen to feedback and make changes to future products. The number one thing for me is how they pair together and how they are used and operate at that point. It would be nice to have these iLive speakers act just like a Google Home does as far as setting up groups. For $65 a speaker for the iLive speaker, that’s not bad for what you are getting.
Sound quality is definitely decent and something I personally am ok with and feel that a majority of others would be too. Battery life could also be extended in a future updated device similar to this one and hopefully that happens as well. For now, 5 – 6 hours is decent enough to do your house cleaning or to get you through the majority of the work day.
iLive Speaker Giveaway
Thanks to the awesome folks over at iLive, we do have one of these to give away to one lucky individual. We’re going to make this very simple and easy for anyone and everyone to get entered to. The rules are as follows. Simply leave a comment in the comment section below with anything you wish and make sure you’re using a valid email address so that we can contact you. The contest is open to anyone and everyone within the USA only and one random winner will be selected on March 9th, 2018. We will pay shipping costs to get this speaker to you. Only one comment per account will be accepted. Good luck to everyone!