We’re attending a Sonos special event in San Francisco at which the new Sonos Beam smart soundbar speaker. The smart speaker will be powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice control for now (you need an Alexa Fire TV box), but it can/will gain support for more voice assistants. No timeline has been shared for that yet.
The 25.6-inches Sonos Beam sound bar gives voice control to the TV, and simplify the overall audio and TV experience. It is a lofty goal, but this is a real problem that has yet to be truly addressed.
Sonos is so confident in its approach that there is no remote at all. Voice is your only means of control over the TV and audio experience. Without a real-world review, we’re not sure how to rate it, but after a demo session we will have a better view of it, so stay tuned as we update this article.
We do know that it has five far-field microphones with advanced echo-cancellation for the content you listen to. The same array is used to hear you speak from anywhere in the room. With Ethernet and HDMI-ARC built in, you can get reliable, low-latency and configuration-less network connectivity. There’s also an optical audio adapter, in case your TV doesn’t support HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel)
Sonos, a leader in WiFi speakers, has been a bit late in the voice-assistant market, but Sonos’ CEO Patrick Spence thinks that his company can build a great experience. We agree.
Since Sonos’ initial foray into the WiFi speaker market, many competitors have launched competing products, and chipmakers like Qualcomm made it much easier for any OEM to mimic the Sonos-style functionalities.
Compatible with Apple AirPlay 2 as well, The Sonos Beam will be available on the U.S market on July 17 and will start at $399. We’re going to have a closer look at the device and update this article later. [Sonos Beam Press Release]