Polk Audio’s Command Bar joins Alexa’s multiroom music party

Polk Command Bar
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Polk Audio’s Command Bar, which features Alexa built in, was updated with Amazon’s Alexa multi-room music feature (MRM), which the company claims makes it the first Alexa-compatible soundbar to work with the system.

Launched in 2017, Alexa multi-room music was initially designed to give users voice-based, whole-home control over their Amazon speakers, like Echo, and Echo Dot, allowing each device to play a different track or to play a single track in perfect sync. The road map included support for third-party Alexa devices within groups and we’re now seeing some of the first products to benefit from that support.

Using the Alexa app, the Command Bar can be added to groups that contain other MRM-enabled devices, including Amazon’s own growing collection of Alexa products. We really liked the Command Bar when we reviewed it in 2018, noting that at $300, it offered some features and sound quality that more expensive products couldn’t match. But we were less than impressed with its ability to process Alexa commands into actions.

Of course, combining Alexa capabilities with multi-room sound isn’t exactly new. Both Sonos and Denon’s Heos systems use their own proprietary multi-room systems and can be controlled via Alexa. However, neither of these proprietary systems let you include other company’s devices within their multi-room control. With MRM, Amazon is effectively opening its own control system to non-Amazon built speakers, letting you combine its products with those of companies like Polk (so long as they’re Alexa and MRM-enabled).

From a practical point of view, the Command Bar is the first third-party audio product that can group with (and play music simultaneously from) first-and third-party products.

When you add this new feature to the Command Bar’s already impressive feature set, such as its multiple HDMI inputs, dedicated Amazon Fire TV slot, wireless subwoofer, and dedicated remote control, it’s an increasingly attractive product.

There is no word yet on when the next MRM-enabled products will arrive, but you can be sure we’ll see plenty coming in the scene in 2019 as Amazon puts increasing pressure on Google and its Assistant.  With Sonos compatibility already launched, and this new MRM functionality underway, Amazon has a commanding lead in the whole-home audio space.

Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on robot vacuums in time for Valentine’s Day

Treat yourself this Valentine's Day to smart home tech that will make your life so much easier. Amazon is slashing the prices on robot vacuums like our recommended favorite Ecovacs Deebot N79S. Ditch the cables with a self-cleaning robot…
Smart Home

Alexa, dim the lights: How voice assistants can help with Valentines Day

If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home device, you can sweep your sweetheart off his or her feet this Valentine's Day with these romantic, mood-setting tips. Your sweetie will be impressed.
Smart Home

Find the perfect Valentine’s Day recipe with Food Network’s Date Your Dessert

Valentine's Day is soon upon us. Food Network enlisted Alexa to help you find the right dessert recipe to share with someone special. Food Network's Date Your Dessert interactive game pays off every time in the form of a dessert recipe.
Home Theater

Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Battle of the on-demand streaming giants

Trying to figure out which subscription streaming service to use while sticking to a frugal entertainment budget? Check out our updated comparison of the big three: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu.
Outdoors

These wireless earbuds use an A.I. to get you moving faster

The new Soul Blade wireless earbuds provide the ability to track your heart rate during a workout while an A.I.-powered coach gives advice and info on how to improve form and efficiency while exercising.
Product Review

Focal’s ultra-clear Sphear Wireless bring sexy back to banded Bluetooth buds

Focal’s Sphear Wireless are a sleek and simple pair of banded Bluetooth earbuds with exceptional sound and an affordable price, making them some of the only non-true wireless earbuds we’d consider buying right now.
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Samsung 4K TVs during Presidents’ Day sale

With 8K TVs on the horizon, the cost of owning a 4K Ultra HD television has dropped pretty significantly in recent years, and this Walmart Presidents' Day sale is offering some great prices.
Home Theater

Apple will reportedly launch its new video-streaming service at March 25 event

The rumors about what Apple will announce at a March 25 event continue to swirl. A new report suggests that it will debut its much-anticipated video-streaming service, which will compete with Netflix and Amazon's Prime Video.
Home Theater

Bose’s technology patents could save an earbud’s battery life

Possibly taking a cue from Apple's popular AirPods, Bose filed a patent application for earbud IR technology that could save battery life, improve sound quality, and possibly help people locate lost earbuds.
Home Theater

ATSC 3.0: The next-gen TV update explained

ATSC 3.0 is the next major update to the broadcast standard we use today. Will this be the second coming of free, over-the-air TV? We're here to explain everything about the new standard.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.