Friday June 17, 2016 1:11 pm PDT by Tim Hardwick
Last month, B&O PLAY announced the Beoplay A1, the latest portable Bluetooth speaker in its family of luxury home audio products. B&O PLAY is a brand subsidiary of Danish high-end audio and video manufacturer Bang & Olufsen, known for its principled attention to design (which some say inspired Apple). We decided to take a look at the A1 ultraportable speaker to see if the device justifies its $249 price tag, which places it at the premium end of the Bluetooth speaker market. Design Taking the A1 out of the box, the first thing that strikes you is the compactness of the unit relative to its weight. At about 1.3 pounds (600 grams), it's not the lightest ultraportable speaker by any means, but its beautifully minimalist 'hockey puck' design feels disarmingly slight, partly thanks to designer Cecilie Manz's decision to embed the power, volume, play/pause, and pairing controls around the rim, with the attached leather strap adding a touch of surfer appeal. The polymer base has a suede-like finish that ensures the 2-inch (51 mm) tall A1 sits happily on most surfaces, and its 5-inch (133 mm) diameter means it's possible to grasp the grilled dome from above and pick up with one hand. The unit sits snugly in the larger pockets of a raincoat, but trying to fit it in a light jacket pocket may present more of a challenge.