New Sonos Beam Soundbar Finally Has HDMI
Sonos has finally worked out that the best way to connect a soundbar is by HDMI as opposed to an optical cable but you will still need a smartphone or tablet to operate their new sonos Beam soundbar.
At a press launch overnight in San Francisco the Company has launched a new lightweight, almost portable, cheap looking soundbar that also has Amazon Alexa voice activation built in.
The voice activation feature is similar to what several Hi FI manufacturers such Denon with their Heos soundbar, Harman and JVC will launch later this year. The difference with the Sonos offering which the US Company is working hard to sell direct is that it has a stylish new look.
Called the Sonos Beam the new soundbar does not support Bluesound because of the proprietary nature of the Sonos mesh network. It’s also only 16bit audio output as opposed to 24bit audio output of the Heos and Bluesound soundbars. The big difference is that most new Ultra High Definition 4K movies or TV series are 24bit enabled.
Sonos Beam will be available on July 17 for $599 and pre-orders are now open. within minutes of the event Sonos was emailing JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman and the customers of specialst dealers to buy their new offering direct as opposed to via a store retailer.
The Sonos Beam wich measures 651mm long, 100mm deep and 68.5 mm high has nothing to do with laser bbeam technology and is smaller than the existing Playbase.
A fabric grille similar to the current Playbase hides the audio components: a tweeter, four elliptical full-range woofers and three passive radiators.
The ends are rounded, as opposed to the Playbar’s boxy, angular approach. The colour scheme is a monotone matte all-black or all-white and the microphones on top are for talking to your preferred voice assistant.
Sonos who is struggling to stay competitive is banking on the beam to deliver sales ahead of a planned IPO. Last month the Company laid off almost 100 employees, or around 6 percent of its workforce due to the Company feeling pressure from new competition from the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon in the smart speaker market.
Homebase is tipped to strip sales with the Apple faithful going for the sophisticated Apple sound offering as opposed to a basic Sonos One speaker.
Wired said that the new Sonos Beam is a challenge and that the struggling US sound Company, has to convince potential new customers that a soundbar like the Beam—a soundbar for TV, for music, for chatting with an AI—is the speaker they need as the sound centrepiece in their living rooms.
They also need to convince these buyers to pick a $499 Beam instead of an inexpensive soundbar that in some cases offers superior sound to the Beam at a lower price.
Unlike the Samsung or LG soundbars the new Beam cannot be integrated into the TV remote for easy sound management. You stil need a seperate smartphone or tablet to access the Sonos software.
The downside: the Beam won’t really do much itself. You’ll still need extra devices, or a capable smart TV, to access services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.