CNET First Look
Sonos Beam is one smart sound barThis tiny Alexa-powered TV speaker really fills the room with sound.
Sonos has unveiled its first affordable sound bar, The Beam, at an event in San Fransisco. And based on the features alone, it could be the company's best AV product yet. The biggest draw card is the integrated voice assistant, which features Amazon Alexa and the promise of Google Assistant Leyla. Sonos says it has improved the microphone array from the company's earlier front speaker. Like that product, the beam can operate exactly like an Echo and let you operate your music or movies with voice alone. The speaker is AirPlay 2 compatible, which means you can group in with a HomePod for multi-room music. And you can even ask Siri, using your phone, to play music on the beam. The product is about half the size of the playbar at 25 inches wide. But offer similar technologies including three audio channels with the center and beam forming for bouncing sounds off your walls. As is there is not a subwoofer the speaker offers a series of passive radiators i order to boost bass response. The Sonos also includes an HDMI port, which is a first for the company. But if you have a TV with an optical port, there will be an optical to HDMI adapter in the box. The speaker will support Dolby Digital decoding, but sadly not Atmos, as there's no up-firing speakers. If you want to expand the system, you can also add a pair of Sonos Ones, for example, as rears, and the subwoofer if you want more bass. [MUSIC] I had to listen to the theme, and found it offers the same super wide sound that the play base and play bar. Dialog in particular sounded super crisp. However as you'd expect from the small size of the unit, there wasn't a lot of base. The Sonos Beam will be available worldwide on July 17 at $399, ��399, or $599 AUD. With support for more standards than before, in addition to multiple voice assistance, the Sonos Beam could be the smart sound bar to beat for the money.