Bose one-ups Apple, Amazon with a $400 smart speaker, two new soundbars

Bose Soundbar 700 tv stand

Home audio pioneer Bose has long made its name as the go-to brand for those who want great looks, solid sound, and ease of use when playing their favorite tunes at home or on the go. Today, the company stepped even further into the forefront of home audio, offering a first for the brand in a new smart speaker to add to the ever-expanding genre. In addition, the company has two new smart soundbars, aiming to turn some heads and take some attention away from multiroom wireless company Sonos and its new Beam soundbar.

Each new option from the company will be fully voice-controllable, featuring Amazon Alexa integration from the get-go, and according to Bose, other voice assistants to follow with software updates down the line (read Google Assistant). In addition, the company says that Airplay 2 integration will be added in early 2019 to go along with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in.

Smart sound, big price

Bose is calling its new smart speaker the Home Speaker 500. A small device that looks strikingly similar to the litany of oval pods in the market from Sonos and others, the Home Speaker 500 differs from many competitors in that it offers a screen on the front that displays what’s currently playing. We expect the display to do more than just that, but since Bose hasn’t revealed all it can do, we’ll keep our speculation to ourselves for now.

The speaker is also a stereo device, which should make music playback more lifelike than the mono sound of most competitors, though at this size, we don’t exactly expect a wide stereo image.

Outside the display screen, perhaps the most notable thing about the Home Speaker 500 at this point is its price. At $400, the speaker outdoes even Apple’s HomePod when it comes to premium pricing for a smart speaker, and costs double the price of the Sonos One smart speaker, though it does appear to be a fair bit bigger. At that price, the 500 will have to impress in multiple categories — including offering some excellent sound — to turn people to Bose’s answer to the smart-speaker category.

Smart bars

The soundbars, called the Soundbar 500 and Soundbar 700, are simple and elegant looking devices with Bose’s signature industrial design flair. The main difference between the two new products is their size: The Soundbar 700 is 2 inches high by 4 inches deep, and is 38 inches long, where the Soundbar 500 is a quarter inch shorter and just over 31 inches long.

Both bars employ Bose PhaseGuide technology, which is designed to create clear, directional sound. Custom low-profile transducers and the company’s QuietPort tech are designed to enable solid detail and a beefy low end from soundbars their size. Both also feature ARC for compatibility with smart TVs, which opens up the possibility of voice control for some basic TV functions, but do not come with subwoofer companion speakers.

In addition, both bars also come with Bose’s ADAPTiQ tech — digital signal processing software designed to acoustically adjust the sound of the speakers to the room in which they are placed.

“Voice-controlled speakers aren’t new, and there are plenty of great options to choose from. But we had a different vision for ours, inspired by what we could uniquely do to make the experience better,” said Bose consumer electronics division manager Doug Cunningham in a press release. “All of our new smart speakers double up on functionality. It takes just one Home Speaker 500 to deliver true stereo separation — there’s no need to pair two. Our Soundbar 700 and 500 are thin and discreet with jaw-dropping surround sound — whether you’re streaming Spotify or watching a movie. They combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for unbeatable ease of use, can be mixed and matched to play in sync or separately, and with new Alexa functionality and more VPAs on the way, they’ll only get better over time.”

As mentioned, the Home Speaker 500 is priced at $400, while the Soundbar 500 and 700 also come in on the high side, priced at $550 and $800, respectively. For more information you can check out Bose’s website.

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