ASUS Lyra Voice review: Transformers meets WiFi routers!
In a crowded market where new wireless routers look and behave much like those launched before them, it is difficult to stand out. ASUS has recently launched a device that's ambitious in its approach. It is named Lyra Voice, and it is a three-in-one mesh WiFi router with built-in Amazon Alexa and stereo speakers. Does it make you think of the characters from the Transformers movies? You can use the Lyra Voice to replace your wireless router, Amazon Echo, and Bluetooth speaker. Sounds interesting? Read this review and see what ASUS Lyra Voice has to offer:
ASUS Lyra Voice: Who is it good for?
ASUS Lyra Voice is an excellent choice for the following types of users:
- People who are invested in Amazon's Alexa ecosystem
- Smarthome owners who want to remote control their smart devices using their router
- Users who wish for the best security for their smart home devices
- People who desire an advanced mobile app from which they can remote control their network
- Owners of ASUS wireless routers who want to extend their network
- Knowledgeable users who want advanced firmware that offers complete control
Pros and cons
Here are the things we like about ASUS Lyra Voice:
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- It looks great in any living room
- Great performance on the 5 GHz wireless band
- It is well integrated with Amazon's Alexa smart assistant
- Using Alexa Skills, and you can control all your smart home devices with voice commands
- Dual-stereo Bluetooth speaker with passive radiators and bass reflex sounds
- Excellent security features
- It is compatible with ASUS's AiMesh platform
There are also some downsides:
- Do not use the initial firmware. Upgrade the firmware, as it offers new Alexa features, fixed bugs, and improvements to the user experience you get
- The performance on the 2.4 GHz wireless band is not impressive
- It has no USB port
ASUS Lyra Voice is an ambitious device that tries to combine the best of many worlds: wireless routers, mesh WiFi systems, virtual assistants, and Bluetooth speakers. While it is not the best at any of these roles, it is one of the very few devices on the market that manages to do all of them surprisingly well. It makes for an interesting device, with many benefits, at a price point that is not for everyone. If you can afford it, it makes for an exciting experience that you rarely find elsewhere.
Unboxing the ASUS Lyra Voice wireless router
ASUS Lyra comes in a white box, with a big picture of the device on the front. You see that it is compatible with ASUS's AiMesh WiFi platform. This means that you can use it to create a wireless mesh system using other ASUS wireless routers. Another neat feature being advertised is the fact that Amazon's Alexa is built into the ASUS Lyra Voice. You find more information about its features on the sides of the box.
When you open it, you immediately see the Lyra Voice. It looks beautiful, like a smart home device, not a typical router. Many users are going to appreciate its design.
Inside the box, you find the following items: the Lyra Voice, the power adapter, one CAT5e Ethernet cable, the user guide, and the warranty.
The packaging used for the ASUS Lyra Voice is elegant and straightforward. The unboxing is a pleasant experience and, inside the box, you find what you need to get started.
Hardware specifications and design
ASUS Lyra Voice looks like a horizontal Amazon Echo, only thinner and longer. It has a size of 10.6 x 2.95 x 2.95 inches or 270 x 75 x 75 mm in width x depth x height, and weighs about 34.39 ounces or 975 grams. It is also covered in a Charcoal Fabric like the Amazon Echo.
The Lyra Voice is an exciting engineering experiment because it is one of the first devices for smart homes that can play all of the following roles:
- A wireless router that secures your entire network from outside threats
- A node in a mesh WiFi system that is built using other ASUS devices
- An Amazon Alexa smart speaker that can be used as a virtual assistant and as a hub for controlling your smart home
ASUS Lyra Voice is a tri-band AC2200 wireless router with a total maximum bandwidth split as follows: 400 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz band, and 867 Mbps for each of the two 5 GHz bands. To broadcast the wireless signal, the Lyra Voice has six internal antennas, and one Bluetooth 4.2 antenna for connecting to other devices like your smartphone. To interact with Alexa, you have several buttons on the top side of the Lyra Voice, just like on the Amazon Echo.
To provide users with so many features, including the Alexa smart assistant, ASUS Lyra Voice is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm IPQ4019 processor, running at 717 MHz. It also has 512 MB of RAM and 256 MB of storage for the firmware. The Lyra Voice is capable of offering 2x2 MU-MIMO wireless transfers, using the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac Wave 2) standard. On the back of the Lyra Voice, there are only two 1 Gbps Ethernet ports, and one of them is used to connect it to the internet. There's also the power jack, and a button for turning on and off the Lyra Voice.
The Lyra Voice is also a dual-stereo Bluetooth speaker. It features passive radiators and bass reflex ports to extend resonance of low-frequency sound. It also has the DTS surround sound technology that enhances the spaciousness of the sound.
The best part of ASUS Lyra Voice is its integration of Amazon Alexa. It can be used to control through voice commands about 20000 smart home devices that are integrated with Alexa Skills. You can use it to control devices like your thermostat, light bulbs, smart plugs, Smart TV, and more.
The hardware specifications and the feature set of the ASUS Lyra Voice are quite impressive.
Setting up and using the ASUS Lyra Voice wireless router
The initial setup of the ASUS Lyra Voice can be done using a web browser on your computer or the ASUS router app for smartphones and tablets. We went on the web browser route, and the process was the same as on other ASUS wireless routers.
The initial setup wizard is about setting the Lyra Voice to work as a wireless router, as a node in a mesh WiFi system or as a repeater in an existing network. To configure the Alexa part of the device, use your smartphone and the ASUS router mobile app, as well as the Amazon Alexa app. One crucial thing to keep in mind is that your Amazon account must be set in the same region as your ASUS Lyra Voice. If they are set to use different countries, the Alexa smart assistant won't work.
After the initial setup is done, you can use the Lyra Voice just like an Amazon Echo. However, the features that it offers are not yet identical to Amazon's devicesl. ASUS has released several firmware updates that add more and more features to the Alexa virtual assistant, alongside fixing bugs. We highly recommend that you keep your Lyra Voice firmware up-to-date so that you can benefit from the latest improvements delivered by ASUS.
The administration interface on the Lyra Voice is the same as on other ASUS wireless routers. All the settings are split into logical sections, and finding your way is easy.
You can configure everything that matters in detail, and advanced users are going to appreciate this fact. The firmware is available in 25 languages, and the user documentation is accessible and well built.
One neat trick is to move the mouse cursor over a setting that you do not understand, and a question mark is shown. Click on the question mark, and you see information explaining that setting.
As mentioned earlier, if you want to use all the features of Lyra Voice, including the Alexa smart assistant, you have to use the ASUS router app. It offers some advanced customization options, including the ability to check on your children's devices, and set up rules for parental controls. However, you should also integrate it with the Amazon Alexa app. With that, you can access all the smart skills of this assistant, and utilize it to its full potential. Once that part is done, Alexa works well on the Lyra Voice, and you can interact with it, even at a distance.
The dual-stereo Bluetooth speaker on the Lyra Voice is powerful without being too loud. One feature that we liked is that it isn't too bass-heavy, as some Bluetooth speakers tend to be. It offers an enjoyable musical experience, even though it is not the best you can get, at least not when compared to premium Bluetooth speakers. If you are curious to hear the Lyra Voice in action, listen to this track below.
One thing that we did not like is that the boot process on the Lyra Voice takes a few minutes. Even though the hardware is powerful, the plethora of features takes quite a bit of time to load.
The switch on the back of the Lyra Voice seems like it is for turning the DTS surround sound on and off. However, that is the power switch for the Lyra Voice itself. Unless you read the user manual, this isn't obvious, and you may accidentally stop the Lyra Voice as we did. :)
We connected more than a dozen devices to the network managed by ASUS Lyra Voice, including a desktop PC, laptops, one tablet, several smartphones, one wireless printer, two smart plugs, one smart bulb, an intelligent robot vacuum cleaner, and an Xbox One console.
We noticed that, from time to time, some mobile network clients get randomly disconnected from the internet, for brief periods, even though they report being connected to the WiFi. This is a bug that should be fixed in future firmware updates.
The speed of the WiFi network managed by ASUS Lyra Voice is excellen,t on the 5 GHz band. Also, the variability of wireless transfers on this band is within normal parameters. For a better perspective, look at the diagram below, showing how data was downloaded from one computer to another, through WiFi, in a room separated from the router by one wall, with no direct line of sight to it.
On the 2.4 GHz band though, the WiFi performance is underwhelming, as you are going to see on the next page of this review.
If you want to see the details about the wireless performance of ASUS Lyra Voice, and all the features that it has to offer, go to the next page of this review.