Watch: Philips’ new Izzy BM5 Bluetooth speaker does multiroom audio differently

There aren’t too many speaker makers who haven’t been bitten by the multiroom audio bug. Pioneered by Sonos over a decade ago, the systems are now virtually ubiquitous. However, Philips’ new Izzy platform does multiroom differently, using an extended Bluetooth signal as opposed to Wi-Fi. The first in the series, the BM5, allows you to group as many as 5 speakers together to spread your music throughout the home.

Like traditional Bluetooth speakers, the BM5 easily pairs to a number of devices for basic wireless playback from virtually any source. However, engaging the “group” button on the top of the speaker allows users to link as many as four additional Izzy speakers to add sound to your kitchen, bedrooms, or anywhere else.

Traditional Bluetooth has a much shorter range than most Wi-Fi setups. However, Philips has extended the range of its Izzy speakers to a claimed 100 meters in open spacing, and although that distance takes a big hit when you add barriers like doors and walls, we were still impressed by the BM5’s long reach.

Apart from range, Philips’ new Bluetooth-based system has other pros and cons when compared to traditional multiroom setups, which utilize an advanced proprietary app for more control over any speakers connected to your Wi-Fi network. Most multiroom speakers allow you to connect as many as 10 speakers or more, and they offer other benefits, including better streaming resolution than Bluetooth, the ability to play different music on each speaker and even source files from computers, or DLNA storage devices.

That hefty feature list is a lot to give up if you want supreme control over your speaker setup, but Philips’ new system does offer some benefits, including the ability to go where Wi-Fi can’t, as well as a remarkably simple setup. As mentioned above, the system isn’t constrained by a dedicated app, meaning virtually anything on your phone is fair game.

As for performance, the speaker offers a smooth and balanced sound, with a spritely upper register, and more bass than you’d expect for its size, thanks to a well-ported duo of 2.5-inch drivers. We really enjoyed the speaker for lighter tracks like jazz and pop at mid volume, but users will want to refrain from blasting rock and hip hip, which draws out some heavy digital compression to keep the speakers from distorting.

While not without its drawbacks, at $130 the Izzy BM5 presents a pretty cool new way to spread sound throughout the house, adding another format to the mix of multiroom audio. You can find the speaker exclusively at Best Buy now.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: AI-powered cat toys, wallets, and food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Demystify home audio with our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide

Today's A/V receivers are packed with lots of advanced technology and just plain cool features. From understanding watt ratings to Wi-Fi, we explain how to buy one that will last you for years in our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide.
Smart Home

Amazon has an even dozen new smart devices. Here’s how to order

Amazon's hardware announcement meant a whole bunch of new Amazon Alexa gadgets. From a microwave to stereo equipment, here is the complete list of devices that were announced, as well as reviews for some.
Home Theater

HDMI 2.0b is a whole lot more than just a connection to your TV

HDMI 2.0b is the backbone for many of the latest updates in 4K UHD technology. And while a new cable standard can often involve a bunch of changes for consumers, that is not the case this time around.
Home Theater

Lynxsonic’s 4:33 headphones offer premium features at a not-so-premium price

If you're looking for a set of wireless headphones that has a similar feature set to Bose's QuietComfort 35 but with a lower price, the Lynxsonic 4:33 is an intriguing new contender on Kickstarter.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as hard as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Curse of La Llorona,’ ‘Jonathan,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. To simplify things, we round up the best ones each week. On tap this week: New trailers for The Curse of La Llarona, The Kid Who Would Be King, and more.
Home Theater

Budget TVs are finally worth buying, and you can thank Roku

Not all that long ago, budget TVs were only worth looking at if, well, you were on a budget. Thanks to Roku, not only are budget TVs now a viable option for anyone, but they might even be a better buy than more expensive TVs.