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Verizon partners with Bang & Olufsen to make smart Android TV soundbars

They don't have 5G or require a contract, but they aren't cheap.

verizon-streambar-pro

Verizon's new Streambar Pro. 

Verizon

Verizon is expanding from internet and TV service and into... expensive soundbars? On Wednesday the telecom giant announced two new soundbars in its lineup: the $400 Stream TV Soundbar and the $1,000 Stream TV Soundbar Pro

Both devices are made in partnership with luxury Danish audio brand Bang & Olufsen, suggesting the company is planning to play in the higher-end side of the consumer home audio space and go up against the likes of Bose, Samsung, Sony and Sonos.

As for specs, both soundbars will support Dolby Atmos, with the Streambar packing five speakers (three full-range drivers and two woofers) and the Streambar Pro housing nine (four full-range drivers, three tweeters and two woofers). 

Both bars also offer built-in streaming, similar to the Roku Streambar, but instead of Roku they'll pack a Verizon-customized version of Android TV called "Stream TV." Both soundbars will be able to play video content in 4K and HDR, but not Dolby Vision. The Google Play Store provides access to the regular cadre of streaming services including Netflix, Disney Plus and HBO Max, as well as game-streaming services like Google Stadia. 

As Android TVs, the soundbars also support Chromecast for streaming wirelessly from a phone, tablet or computer. The speakers do not, however, support AirPlay for streaming directly from Apple devices. 

Other features include two HDMI input ports on the Soundbar and three on the Soundbar Pro, and each speaker supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5. The included remote -- which looks like the one the company bundles with its Stream TV boxes -- does not include dedicated shortcut keys for apps like Netflix or YouTube, but does have a built-in microphone for summoning the Google Assistant. Note that unlike some soundbars, such as the Sonos Beam, you can't use voice commands hands-free (e.g. barking, "Hey, Google").

Like Roku's Ultra streaming box, both soundbars feature what seems like a genuinely useful "find my remote" button that when pressed can trigger a sound from the controller to help you find it inside your couch cushions. 

While not something one would expect from Verizon, the company has been quietly selling a variety of soundbars and other accessories as it looks to expand its offerings beyond phones, tablets and connected devices. This includes a $1,900 Bang & Olufsen Beosound soundbar, and perhaps most notably, selling some PlayStation 5 consoles online and in stores

Unlike with the online purchases of the PlayStation 5, however, you don't need to be a Verizon customer to buy either soundbar. You also don't need to be a subscriber to use either device. That means both smart soundbars will have to compete against the best Dolby Atmos soundbars from established brands, including the Vizio M512A, Sonos Arc and Bose Smart Soundbar 900.

Both new Verizon speakers will be available to order on Wednesday. For those interested, Verizon has a bizarre promotion where you can buy "three eligible" accessories priced $20 or higher and knock up to 30% off the total price, 35% if you buy four accessories or 40% if you buy five. 

The "eligible" items also can't be anything below $20, but in theory, you can buy five phone cases or chargers for $20 a pop and knock roughly $400 off the Soundbar Pro or $160 off the Soundbar.

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