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Sonos Move speaker cuts the cord, goes portable

The Move, coming Sept. 24 for $400, is the company's first mobile speaker that's suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

The Sonos Move will ship on September 24.

David Carnoy/CNET

Back in August, Sonos' first portable speaker, the Move, made its unofficial debut thanks to an internet leak. Now Sonos has officially launched the Move and it's exactly what we expected: A battery-powered speaker you can connect to your home's Wi-Fi network or (in a first for Sonos) stream over Bluetooth when you're away from your home. 

What we didn't know was how much it would cost. It's $400 (£399, AU$649), which is more than we expected, and at the high end of the Sonos product line. But then again, it's a bigger speaker than we thought it would be, falling somewhere between the Sonos One and Sonos Play:5. It's scheduled to ship on Sept. 24.

I got a demo of the Move in New York last week and was generally impressed with it. It seems well-built and looks almost too nice to be an outdoor speaker. At 6.6 lbs (3kg), it's got some heft to it but it's not to heavy to carry around. And there's an integrated handle on the back that allows you to tote it around the house or out to the patio -- or even the beach. With the Move's IP56 rating, Sonos says the Move's "tough durable exterior will withstand falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UV and extreme temperatures."

Now playing: Watch this: Sonos Move is both an indoor and outdoor wireless speaker
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It comes with a charging dock but also has a USB-C port for charging on the go and delivering up to 10 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. The speaker does have plenty of punch to it and plays louder with stronger bass than the Sonos One. However, its bass and overall sound output can't match that of the Play:5.

Like other voice-enabled Sonos devices, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are built in -- you can choose one or the other -- but they only work when the speaker is connected to Wi-Fi and not in Bluetooth mode. Alas, even though the speaker has a four far-field microphone array to respond to your voice commands, it can't be used as speakerphone when in Bluetooth mode. 

Sonos is touting a couple of bonus features. First, it says the Move has the best Wi-Fi connectivity of any of its speakers to date, with extended range that should help the speaker stay connected to your Wi-Fi network when you take it out to your patio or backyard. It also has Sonos's Trueplay tuning technology, which allows the speaker to tune itself based on the environment it's in, whether that's a small or large room or out in the open with no walls around it.

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The Move (center) is bigger than the Sonos One (left).

David Carnoy/CNET

The Move isn't the only new product Sonos announced. There's the non-voice-enabled Sonos One SL (for people who don't need another voice-enabled Sonos speaker in their system). It replaces the Play:1 and is available Sept. 12 for $179, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it for closer to $150 this holiday season.

And the Port, the successor to the original Connect, brings Sonos streaming to a stereo or AV receiver. It arrives in "limited quantities" on Sept. 12 with a retail price of $399. I think it should cost less, but it's geared toward the home-installer market.

I look forward to testing the Move in the coming weeks and I'll additional sound comparisons to the Sonos One and Play:5, as well as other premium portable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speakers such as the recently announced Bose Portable Home Speaker, which ships on Sept. 19 and costs $349 (£370, AU$500).

Sonos Move key specs

  • Dimensions (height/width/depth): 9.44x6.29x4.96 inches (240x160x126 mm)
  • Weight: 6.61 lb (3 kg) including battery
  • One downward-firing tweeter and one mid-woofer  for mid-range vocals and bass
  • Four far-field microphone array (is voice-enabled for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants)
  • IP56 rated for protection from dust particles and water spray
  • Capacitive touch controls for volume up/down, previous/next track, play/pause and microphone status
  • TruePlay tuning (automatic tuning according to placement in any environment)
  • LED light indicates speaker status, microphone status, and voice feedback
  • Complete privacy mode (microphone off)
  • LED light lets you know when the microphone is active
  • USB-C Charging
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming (Bluetooth 4.2)
  • Codec support over Bluetooth: SBC and AAC
  • Works with AirPlay 2 on Apple devices iOS 11.4 and later
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours at moderate volume levels
  • Built to withstand accidental falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust, UV rays and extreme temperatures
  • Playback from -10 degrees Celsius to 55 C, charging from 0 C to 45 C
  • Price: $399, £399, AU$649
  • Available Sept. 24