Bang & Olufsen
Beosound Level is a home speaker designed for the wall, a table and the garden
Technology obsolescence is an increasingly common problem, as devices from smartphones to televisions become more difficult and cost-ineffective to repair.
Premium audio company Bang & Olufsen wants to change this with its new Beosound Level wireless speaker, which is designed to be serviced, upgraded and repaired to the extent that B&O says it will work for decades.
The speaker is designed to be stood or hung vertically or horizontally, and adjusts its sound output to work correctly in either orientation. The unit contains two four-inch woofers, one two-inch full-range driver, and a pair of 0.8-inch tweeters. Sound output can be switched between 180 and 360 degrees depending on how the speaker is positioned in a room, and it is finished with aluminum and the choice of oak or fabric covers.
The battery is charged via USB-C or a new magnetic power cord, and an IP54 rating means it can be used outside (although not permanently) without cause for concern. B&O claims the Level's battery can last up to 16 hours on a charge.
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level is priced from $1,999Bang & Olufsen
Bang & Olufsen no doubt paid attention to the mistakes made by Sonos, which angered its customers by introducing a 'recycle mode' that effectively killed older speakers that no longer had the processing power to work with its latest software.
To ensure its own hardware doesn't meet a similar fate, B&O has created a new streaming module that houses the Beosound Level's processor, wireless connections and antenna array. This module will be rolled out to all future B&O devices, and the company says it has enough processing headroom to work with future software updates and new features for "many years to come".
Then, when the processor is no longer sufficient, B&O will offer a service where customers mail in their speakers for an upgrade. The company says: "In case connectivity and streaming technology should become outdated over time, the module can be replaced with the latest version." This means the speaker can be future proofed, B&O says, to "deliver decades of great sound experiences."
The speaker's modular design means owners can exchange the front cover for new materials and colors, and replace the battery themselves. B&O has also designed the speaker so that service partners can easily access, repair and replace vital components.
All this talk of a long-lasting product will come as good news, given the speaker's high price of $1,999 (£1,099) for the Natural model and $2,299 for a gold version.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level Portable Wi-Fi Multiroom Speaker, Natural Aluminum/Dark Grey