Earlier this year we published an op-ed on what Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s entrance into the smart speaker market could mean for other beloved speaker manufacturers like Bose, Sonos, Bowers & Wilkins and Bang & Olufsen. The answer, it seems, is to adapt to survive. We’ve already seen Sonos do it, partnering with Amazon to integrate Alexa into its Sonos One and Sonos Beam speakers. And now it’s Bose’s turn.
Today the company announced a new smart speaker, the Bose Home 500 ($400), and two new smart soundbars, the Bose Soundbar 500 ($550) and Bose Soundbar 700 ($800). All three smart speakers have an eight-microphone array (so they’re really good at picking up your voice) and ship with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, built in. All three speakers will work with Google Assistant in the near future, too, and Bose promises to roll out an AirPlay 2 update in early 2019.
Essentially, Bose’s smart speakers will work very similarly to the Sonos One and Sonos Beam, respectively. You can ask Alexa to change songs and play music in multiple rooms in your house. But being “Bose” speakers, they’re also designed to sound better than Sonos’s offerings. They’re also considerably more expensive. From a consumer perspective, Bose’s new speakers offer new options for those who want a great-sounding smart speaker or soundbar without having to be roped into Sonos’s ecosystem.
All Bose’s new smart speakers will be available sometime in October.
Bose Home 500
The Home 500 is a smart speaker akin to the Sonos One, but it’s substantially more expensive. The main reason for that being sound quality. The speaker has two custom drivers pointing in opposite directions, enabling it to produce, according to Bose, a “soundstage wider than any other smart speaker.” The Home 500 has a front-facing display to show things like song title and album artwork. It also has a number of touch controls on top of the speaker in case you don’t feel like using your voice.
Bose Soundbar 700
No surprise here, but the Soundbar 500 and the Soundbar 700 are pretty similar soundbars – the 700 is larger, more expensive and designed to sound better. Both have HDMI ARC support so you can control things like volume and channels with your voice. The details for all the voice commands are a little vague right now, but I’m guessing Bose’s soundbars are like the Sonos Beam, with more advanced voice controls (like turning on/off the TV) only working with Alexa Fire TVs. Both soundbars have built-in Bluetooth, too.
Bose Soundbar 500
Even though it’s slightly smaller, the Soundbar 500 packs virtually the Bose’s sound technology as the SoundBar 500. It has Bose’s ADAPTiQ technology, so the audio is optimized specifically for the room it’s in. The Soundbar 500 is probably the more practical solution for smaller rooms.
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