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Sonos ’first portable speaker is the $ 399 Move – The Verge, The Verge

Sonos ’first portable speaker is the $ 399 Move – The Verge, The Verge


  

Sonos is finally jumping into the world of portable speakers. The company has announced the new Sonos Move, a $ 399 speaker that works with Sonos’ current Wi-Fi-based system but also includes the ability to connect to devices over Bluetooth. It comes with an internal battery, which is good for up to 10 hours of playback, and a charging base to keep it charged when it’s in your home. The Move will be available for preorder today, September 5th, with retail availability starting on September 24 th.

At almost 10 inches tall and weighing over six and a half pounds, the Move is considerably larger than the Sonos One, making it a bit more to carry around than the typical UE Boom Bluetooth speaker. So Sonos designed a handle directly into the Move’s molded plastic shell to make it easy to pick up and move from room to room or take out of the house. The charging base, which has two pogo pins that line up with the contacts on the back of the Move, give the speaker a “home” when it’s not in use, ensuring it’s charged and ready to go when you need it. If you’re on the go and need to top up the battery, there’s also a USB-C port on the back.

  

                                                
The Sonos Move (right) is much larger than the Sonos One.
  

The Move’s larger footprint provides it with more volume and power than the Sonos One. It’s equipped with two Class-D amplifiers, which push a single tweeter and a mid-woofer driver. Sonos says the Move is powerful enough to overcome the rapid falloff in volume that happens when you play music outdoors. The Move also has an IP 56 water and dust resistance rating, and the company claims it’s strong enough to withstand accidental falls, rain and moisture, sand and dust , and other elements that might be encountered when a speaker is taken outside of the house.

The Move is also the first Sonos speaker with automatic TruePlay tuning, which lets the speaker adapt its sound for its environment. With earlier Sonos speakers, TruePlay tuning required walking around a room with an iPhone or iPad while a beeping tone played from the speaker to “map” the room. The Move can use its own microphones to adjust its sound within about 30 seconds of playback, which is much easier than the prior method and convenient for a speaker that will migrate from place to place on a regular basis. Sonos says it’s likely this will come to its other speakers that have microphones in the future.

The Move’s battery is also replaceable: the company says it should be good for up to 900 charges (or roughly three years of use), and it will sell replacements for owners to swap in when they need to. Charging the battery takes a couple of hours, but the Move can last for up to five days between charges in its low power “suspend” mode when it’s not in use.

Of course, all of these features are in service to the fact that you can actually use the Move outside of your home, which isn’t possible with any other Sonos speaker. That’s mostly thanks to the battery and the new Bluetooth 4.2 functionality, which let you pair your phone, tablet, laptop, or other device to the Move like you would with any other Bluetooth speaker. Sonos says there should be no discernible difference between listening to music over Bluetooth versus Wi-Fi, and the speaker is smart enough to remember the last device it connected to when you switch it over to Bluetooth mode via the button on the back.

Sonos does claim that the Wi-Fi radios and antennas it put in the Move are the most powerful it’s ever used, so if you’re just moving the speaker from inside your home to your patio, it will likely be able to use your Wi-Fi for that, without the need to pair it over Bluetooth. When on Wi-Fi, the Move is very similar to the Sonos One: you can pair two units in stereo; control it with the Sonos app, Spotify Connect, or Apple AirPlay 2; and use your voice to command Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant through the Move. Those features aren’t available when the device is used in Bluetooth mode. (You cannot use the Move as surround speakers. Sonos says that doesn’t make sense for a portable speaker.)

  

                            

As for why it’s taken so long for Sonos to release a portable speaker, CEO Patrick Spence says it was a variety of factors, including development resources, available technologies, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a company culture that was resistant to Bluetooth specifically. Developing support for other protocols helped the company prepare for a product that might not rely on Wi-Fi at all. “Supporting AirPlay helped us get comfortable with delivering a Sonos-like experience over wireless protocol other than Wi-Fi,” Spence says. “We had to also deal with battery technology, which was also new for us, because we’ve always to this point worked in a situation where you could plug the speaker into the wall.”

The company has also been standardizing the technology used in its products across the line, something it never did in the past. Though each Sonos speaker has its own tuning and design, a lot of the learnings from developing voice control and other features for prior speakers can carry over easily. Spence says using similar hardware, such as processors and memory, in all of the products also makes it easier to develop software that can work with all of them.

In short, the Sonos Move likely wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t already developed the Sonos One and Sonos Beam, which use similar processing hardware and have a similar set of capabilities, just in different form factors.

The Move likely won’t be the last or only Sonos speaker with Bluetooth or portable features, either. It’s just the first. Spence says one of his goals when he came to the company in 2017 was to speed up the cadence of new products, and he says the teams are working on more products at the same time than ever before.

But the Move is the first Sonos speaker you can take out of your home, and even though it comes with a high price tag compared to typical Bluetooth speakers, it will likely find a lot of fans among the Sonos faithful. We’ll be spending more time with the Move when we review it, so stay tuned for that.

Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge

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