Philips has announced its first multiroom Bluetooth system that enables users to connect up to five separate speakers at a time in your house.
Want music in every room without needing to know your wireless password? This is your best bet. While we've seen countless Wi-Fi systems, the Philips is one of the first multiroom Bluetooth systems. Izzy uses a master/slave configuration with a single speaker as your master (usually the one you use the most) and up to five slave units piggy-backed on top. The idea is you connect your phone via Bluetooth to the master and then each successive connection is through an internal Wi-Fi circuit.
There is a "Group" button on each speaker that enables you to connect to the other speakers. You can also connect to just one speaker at a time.
The unit itself is fairly nondescript with just a silver volume knob and a couple of buttons, and it's relatively compact at 6 inches by 4 inches square. The speaker is a stereo design and it's driven by two Class D digital amps. In addition to Bluetooth the unit also offers a 3.5mm input that can also be streamed throughout the house.
Based on my hands-on, the wireless range was a lot better than expected with the main unit able to connect to over Bluetooth from two rooms away. Sound quality was pretty good for a speaker at the $129 price even though the $149 LG H3 bettered it, and offers more features like Spotify Connect.
However, there were some issues I found; for example it wasn't always possible to reconnnect all the previously paired units using the Group button without physically checking on each one. I can imagine a scenario where you want to play music in one room late at night and accidentally blast your sleeping family. Meanwhile Wi-Fi apps enable you to turn off each room from the screen without disturbing others.
The Philips Izzy is likeable and it's relatively simple to use, but will Bluetooth multiroom be a success? It's too early to tell; depending on how thick your walls are you may find that you're cutting the signal to all the speakers simply because you left the room, and this may quickly become frustrating. Until Bluetooth is able to "auto-hop" between units -- and who knows if this will ever be possible -- for reliability and performance's sake a Wi-Fi system could be the better option at this stage.