Portable speakers the perfect addition to outdoor activities
A GOOD backyard barbecue session needs a range of elements - a barbecue, cold drinks, good company, and some tunes are generally considered the basics.
The music element can be more challenging than it appears, though - most of us have probably experienced someone playing music only they love through their mobile phone speakers - but audio products company Sonos believes it has the solution.
Their latest product, the Sonos Move, was unveiled at a press event in New York recently and, at least in the lift pitch, is a portable wireless speaker designed to work indoors and outdoors.
When the designers say "outdoors", however, they're not just talking your back patio - they mean pretty much anywhere you might be, including the beach, camping, in the outback somewhere, at the park, or just out in the yard.
The speaker, which is set for September 24 release and is expected to have an RRP of $649, has a straightforward enough premise - outdoor speakers aren't exactly new - but the team at Sonos have put a lot of work into the Move to ensure that it not only sounds good wherever it is, it'll handle a wide range of conditions traditionally detrimental to speaker wellbeing.
Product marketing lead Allen Mask said Sonos were maniacal about quality and took their product testing extremely seriously.
"We run the most ridiculous scenarios that you could think of, even in our products in the home," he said. "Of course, when we have a product that can go beyond the home, we had to take it to the next level.
"We put this thing up to everything. We've thrown it in dust, we've dropped it from six feet - It actually broke a piece of concrete in one of the drop tests.
"We find all sorts of different liquids to test it in, even above and beyond. We actually have a synthetic sweat that we developed just to test in the product. Red wine, mustard, lotion, anything you can think of.
"We tested it even in a myriad of ways beyond what you've seen in there (the press event)... We're super confident that it's going to stand any and all elements that someone could throw into it - within reason."
The Move speakers can also reportedly operate at temperatures of up to 55 degrees celsius and withstand temperatures of up to 70 degrees celsius in storage.
One might even go so far as to call the speakers Australia-proof, although we won't be able to confirm that until I get my hands on a set and put them through a rigorous testing process which may or may not involve taking them to the beach and letting my children touch them with their sunscreen-and -ice-cream-covered hands.
It's not just surviving the sand and the water and the children and the UV, though - how do the speakers sound?
While I only heard a couple of songs through them, I was impressed by how they sounded - even outdoors the sound was rich and clear and not at all tinny or distorted.
The speakers feature an automatic equaliser function.
When activated, it uses the microphones on the Move to listen to its output and adjust the sound accordingly - for example, during the demonstration, the speaker was moved from a table to inside a bookshelf, and within a few seconds the sound had asjusted, going from muffled and bassy back to mostly clear.
The unit has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built in as well, enabling hands-free music paying, question asking, smart home device control and the like when on wi-fi.
Charging is via a base stand, with an internal battery allowing for up to ten hours of continuous play time on a single charge and a five-day standby, according to Sonos.
With an RRP of $649 this isn't going to be an impulse purchase, but I was very impressed with what I saw at the press unveiling and can see this being a worthwhile additions to the audio setups of music fans who want quality whether they're in their lounge or making the most of their outdoor room.
Royce Wilson travelled to New York as a guest of Sonos