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Bose’s $349 portable smart speaker with Bluetooth aims to steal Sonos’ thunder

Poor Sonos. It’s presumably been working for years on its new portable speaker — the first of its kind from the company to offer both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. After many leaked specs and images, we even think we already know its name: The Sonos Move.

But before the company could make the rumors and leaks official at its August 26 and 27 event in New York City, which is widely expected to be the Move’s debut, one of its chief rivals has beaten it to the punch. Bose has unveiled its own portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi smart speaker, the $349 Bose Portable Home Speaker, which will be available for purchase September 19, 2019.

The Portable Home Speaker isn’t just a dead ringer from a specs point of view (it boasts support for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant — plus Apple’s AirPlay 2), but it even looks a lot like the leaked product photos we’ve seen of the Sonos Move (if that’s indeed what it’s called). Available in both white and black (like almost all Sonos speakers), the Portable Home Speaker even has an optional $29 charging cradle, yet another detail we’ve seen in the Sonos Move photos.

Bose’s design offers 360-degree sound through its cylindrical shape and has a built-in, rotating-strap-style carry handle. It’s a better design for those who plan to do some serious toting around, but it won’t be as aesthetically pleasing when sitting atop a counter or coffee table.

The Portable Home Speaker boasts a 12-hour battery life and recharges via USB-C. It has a moderate amount of water resistance with an IPX4 rating — good for the occasional inadvertent splash, but not much more — and it supports Spotify Connect so you can control playback functions from within the Spotify app itself.

Speaking of controls, you’ll find a series of top-mounted buttons that cover all of the usual features: Volume up/down, track skip, and play/pause, plus a microphone-mute button that Bose claims is your guarantee of complete privacy — not a bad feature given how many companies appear to be listening to (and sharing) private conversations.

How will the Bose Portable Home Speaker compare to the as-yet unlaunched Sonos Move, and will Sonos undercut Bose’s price? Stay tuned — more will be revealed after the upcoming Sonos event. We’ll know even more once we get these speakers into our hands for testing.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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