January 12, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
One of the lust-worthy luxury brands in consumer electronic, Bang & Olufsen, is launching a new sub brand to expand its market into some new categories and lower (well, only slightly lower) prices.
The new brand will be called B & O Play—meant to give the products a more outgoing appeal. The first product is a portable speaker for iPhone, iPads and iPods, but headphones, speakers and even TVs are also likely in the future for B & O Play.
The launch product, the Beolit 12, is smaller than a shoebox, but hides 120 watts of power, one 4-inch woofer and two 2-inch tweeters. There’s no dock on the unit. Instead it uses Apple’s AirPlay to stream music wirelessly from an iOS device or iTunes on a computer. A leather handle makes it easy to carry the unit around. An eight-hour rechargeable battery lets users take it outside.
The sound demonstration we heard at a CES suite was quite impressive. The small system delivered loud, clear music much larger than it’s diminutive looks would suggest.
Even though B & O Play is meant to reach a wider audience, it’s still not cheap. At $799 it sits with other high-end iPod players from companies like Arcam and B & W. It was shown in a dark gray but will be available in four colors in a few weeks.
In addition to being a new brand, the product will have wider availability than other Bang & Olufsen products—you can buy it at Apple stories and other on and offline retailers.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.