Panasonic SC-GA10 Smart Speaker Review
There’s certainly no shortage of smart speakers to choose from – so is Panasonic's effort, the Google Assistant-based SC-GA10, worth its sizeable asking price? Let’s find out.
Once you’ve pulled it out of its box, the first thing you notice about the SC-GA10 is its striking design. A solid, squared-off pillar of aluminium and fabric mesh, it’s a clear cut above more plasticky smart speakers like the Google Home or Amazon Echo when it comes to styling and build quality. Given that it costs quite a bit more, that’s perhaps to be expected.
One design decision not everyone will adore is the separate power brick, which can prove awkward or unsightly depending on how you’re placing the SC-GA10. It does keep the overall size of the speaker down, we suppose, but it’s worth noting if you’re the type that likes to keep cable tangle to a minimum.
Like all smart speakers the SC-GA10 is capable of voice control (more on that below), but Panasonic has also included a cluster of touch-sensitive manual controls on the top surface. With these, you can adjust or mute the volume, play/pause playback, switch to aux, Bluetooth or Google Cast inputs and adjust EQ settings (the latter in tandem with the dedicated Music Control mobile app). That’s an unusually comprehensive suite of buttons for a smart speaker, and handy if you prefer to supplement voice controls with a more hands-on approach.
The smart functionality here comes courtesy of Google Assistant, which means the SC-GA10 can stream from audio services including Spotify, Google Play Music, Deezer, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, Rhapsody and iHeartRadio. Not only that, it allows voice control of smart lights, thermostats, and TVs with Chromecast built-in – anything that the Google Home can interact with, in other words. All you need to do to get everything set up is download the Google Home app to your phone or tablet; you’ll be barking orders using “Hey, Google!” in minutes.
Voice commands work well when audio isn’t playing, but the speaker can struggle to register your requests if it’s also pumping out music at a high volume. Which, being a surprisingly powerful speaker, it’s very good at. There are 40 watts in total at its disposal, and it belts it out with gusto via a pair of 20mm tweeters and single 80mm woofer.
The tweeters are offset slightly to widen their sound projection, resulting in audio capable of filling a good-sized room: it can go loud without overextending itself, and there’s a reasonable amount of bass too. You don’t get any real stereo separation (although that can be achieved by pairing up two of these), and if you’re looking for an ultra-defined soundstage in which individual instruments are distinct, well – you probably shouldn’t be looking for it in a smart speaker.
Overall, Panasonic has pulled off a strong – if not quite perfect – effort at creating a smart speaker able to do a more than a passable job as a music player. It’s stylish, it’s compact, it’s well built, and it’s a much better sonic performer than the Google Home and Amazon Echo.
It might lag behind the Sonos One and Apple HomePod when it comes to overall audio performance, but both of them are pricier; all in all, the SC-GA10 is a viable choice for anyone seeking smarts and sonic strength in a single package.
For more information visit Panasonic.
Having been covering consumer tech since phones were dumb and TVs weren’t flat, few things in the gadget world still have the power to surprise Sam – which is why he loves writing about those few things that do. A Londoner transplanted to New York, and now returned to the English coast, he’s a photographer and loving what drones have brought to the hobby.