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.
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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 training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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