On the right in the picture above is the B&O A9, and on the left is an archery target -- or is it the other way round? Either way, the A9 is the latest product from Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay series of Wi-Fi equipped speakers that, to put it mildly, has a very distinctive design.
The main body is a 70cm circle, supported by three wooden tripod legs, making it look exactly like something Robin Hood would use to show off his bow-and-arrow skills.
You certainly won't want to fire anything at it though, as it costs £1,600. £1,600! Attempting to justify that ludicrous price are five separate speakers -- two 80W high-end tweeters, two 80W mid-range speakers and a 160W bass woofer. They're each powered by their own amplifiers to hopefully allow it to deliver greater control over the sound.
I went ears-on at the launch event in London and was very impressed by the clarity -- and volume -- this giant disc was able to achieve. High-end sound seemed very clear and the bass was punchy and warm, thanks to a bass exhaust around the back. It managed to remain distortion-free even when cranked up to an ear-splitting level.
You can send your sounds to the speaker using AirPlay from your iPhone or DLNA streaming from your Android device. Alternatively you can plug in an MP3 player using the auxiliary jack, but try not to ruin the look by having cables dragging everywhere.
The top rim has a touch panel you simply stroke it to change volume -- to the left to turn it down, or to the right to crank up Gangnam Style to the max.
It's a design that immediately split opinion in the CNET
office, with much of the team saying it's a ridiculous over-priced piece of nonsense. While I agree it's totally daft, I can't help
but love it -- I'd rather have something
that eye-catching in my living room than a boring square dock
that hides away on your shelf among your books.
It's available in a variety of colours, thanks to the removable material cover. I suggested to Tue Mantoni, B&O's president and CEO that it would be perfect for custom designs -- I recommended a spinning spiral pattern, one of those interactive plasma plates or of course the CNET logo, which would look perfect. He agreed and said he'd like to see a giant eye. Fair enough. Whether B&O will offer custom graphics remains to be seen.
The A9 will be available from the B&O website or from any of its stores from the second half of November. For £1,600. Sixteen. Hundred. Pounds.
What do you think of the A9? Would you love to have a gigantic circle on legs in your living room? Could you fight the urge to use it for target practice? If you've got a spare £1,600 kicking around, by the way, we know some very deserving causes. Let me know what you think in the comments below or over on our impecunious Facebook page.