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The new Beats Pill might replace Sonos on my back porch

The 2024 Beats Pill and an aging Sonos Play:1.
If I were to build an outdoor stereo in 2024, I’d do it with a pair of portable Beats Pills instead of Sonos speakers. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

In 2017, after more than a decade in our home, my wife and I added a pool. With it came a covered deck, making what basically was a new outdoor room. Not uncommon at all in Florida, but new to us.

And one of my favorite additions to that space was a pair of OG Sonos Play:1 speakers. They’ve lived outside — in the elements, but covered — since I originally put them up the better part of a decade ago. That’s maybe not quite how Sonos meant for them to be used, but they’ve survived just fine so far. (I did bring them inside for Hurricane Sally in 2020.)

Beats Pill Review | It's Back and You’ll Want Two!

There are any number of reasons why allowing Sonos speakers to live outside is not the best idea. Florida humidity is no joke. (Same for the occasional deep freeze, too.) And that’s why if I were building an outdoor space today, I’d opt for a pair of the new Beats Pill speakers. In fact, I’m out on the porch listening to them as I write this.

There are a few reasons for this, all of them fairly obvious.

A pair of Beats Pill speakers alongside a pool
Two 2024 Beats Pills can be paired in stereo and put wherever you want — including where they might get wet. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

First, there’s the price. The new Beats Pill retails for $149 — and that’s before any sales prices. That’s a far cry from whatever I paid for a double shot of the Sonos:1 all those years ago — probably about $50 more each. (Today’s equivalent speaker is the Sonos Era 100, which costs $448 for a pair.)

Then there’s the matter of portability. My Sonos Play:1 speakers have to be plugged in all the time. I had to add electrical to the back porch anyway and kept that in mind. But that might not be an option for everyone. Beats says the new Pill is good for 24 hours, which should be more than good enough. I’m in suburban Pensacola, not Ibiza. The parties don’t go on all night. But a little USB-C juice can extend things, if needed. That’s a winner.

Plus, that portability means the speakers can live inside more often than not, as they should. That’s better for longevity, and for usefulness. Speaking of longevity, the Beats Pill is properly rated IP67 against dust and water.

The Beats Pill and and old Sonos Play:1.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

I haven’t worried all that much about how close the pair of Beats Pills sound to the pair of Play:1s. It’s close enough for my purposes, which is background music outdoors. They sound good enough — and it’s really the ability to pair them in stereo that makes it work. (And as an added bonus, I could take a phone call through them. Not that I plan on doing so, though. Don’t bother me while I’m in the pool.)

Why go with the Beats Pill and not a new Sonos Roam 2? For one, the Beats Pill is $30 less expensive, so there’s that. Then there’s the current state of Sonos, which isn’t great. There’s something to be said for a good Bluetooth speaker that doesn’t have the added complication of a larger ecosystem. That’s been a huge frustration this summer when we strip down and hit the pool, only to have to wrestle the struggling Sonos app to get music to actually play where we want.

The Beats Pill doesn’t get quite as loud (or sound quite as good cranked up), but I can live with that. And my neighbors certainly can live with that. And having to take two speakers outside is, yes, more work than having a pair that live out there. But that’s a relatively small inconvenience, especially given the headaches of Sonos of late.

The Bluetooth-based Beats Pill? It does its job the first time, every time. Just as it should.

Phil Nickinson
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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