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Just when you thought that there wasn’t any room to improve portable Bluetooth speakers, the $169 Sonos Roam might just rewrite the book on what a portable speaker can be.
Weighing less than a pound, and standing only six inches tall, the Sonos Roam looks like your typical Bluetooth speaker. But beneath its minimal appearance is a speaker packing enough technological tricks to make your head spin.
The big idea at play with the Sonos Roam is that it is not only a portable Bluetooth speaker but also a Wi-Fi-enabled smart speaker.
While combining Wi-Fi and Bluetooth into a truly portable speaker may seem redundant or might not feel like a killer feature, rest assured: This is a big deal for a device that costs less than $200. By Frankensteining both wireless technologies into the Roam, Sonos is letting users have their cake and eat it too.
Having Bluetooth means that you can take the Sonos Roam to the beach or the park, pair it with your phone and have a battery that lasts 10 hours. Having wi-fi means that you can connect the Roam to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2 and more than 100 music streaming services without having to pair with a phone. Even better, the Sonos software automatically handles the switch between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Even better, you can also link the Roam up with all the other Sonos speakers in your house.
But there’s more here than just two wireless technologies combined into one speaker. One of the big draws of Sonos audio gear is the fact that you can create an entire audio network in your home where all of your speakers work together in a seamless and intelligent manner. And the Sonos Roam will slot in perfectly to any existing network of Sonos speakers.
This means you can use the Roam for multi-room audio playback or on its own. It also has SoundSwap, which lets you press one button to transfer the audio playing on the move to the closest Sonos speaker in your home (or vice versa).
And just like larger Sonos speakers, it also has TruePlay. This means the speaker will analyze the acoustics of any room it’s in and automatically tweak its audio settings for optimal quality.
On top of all that, Sonos’ S2 software makes managing the Roam (and other Sonos devices on your network) a breeze. Using one app, you have universal access to more than 100 streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music. And Sonos Radio also gives you access to another 1000 live stations.
Sonos is also selling an optional wireless charging base for $49 that the Roam can attach to magnetically. And if you want to use the Sonos Roam around the house as a smart speaker, you;re going to need a convenient way to keep it charged up.
Technically, any Wireless Qi-based charging pad will work in the same way, but it’s hard to argue that the Sonos charger is better looking, and more secure for your speaker.
All of these advanced and premium features do not mean that the Sonos Roam is a delicate flower, however. This speaker is IP67 rated, which means that it is fully dustproof and waterproof. On top of that, the ends of the speakers are concave, which helps it resist damage if it’s dropped.
If you’re as excited as we are to check this speaker out, the Sonos Roam will start selling online and in stores on April 20 for $169. But for anyone who wants to be assured they can get one the day it ships, pre-orders are available now on the Sonos website.
Based on what we’ve noticed with Sonos’ Arc soundbar, popular Sonos items tend to be back-ordered a month or two in advance, so the pre-order is a smart decision if you don’t want to risk having to wait.