Sonos finally did it. The company has released the portable Bluetooth speaker that fans of the brand have been asking for.
The Roam is a small, portable device with Bluetooth pass-through, decent battery life and the well-tuned Sonos sound the company’s speakers are known for. All of this is wrapped in premium hardware that looks and feels great.
This might sound like the perfect speaker, but it isn’t without a few drawbacks. That said, I suspect most of my issues with the Roam are easy to overlook for anyone who’s already invested in Sonos’ ecosystem. Even if you already have a single Sonos speaker, the Roam is a perfect add-on to that system thanks to its reasonable price and portability.
However, for anyone not already invested in Sonos’ ecosystem, the decision to get a Roam isn’t so cut and dry.
There’s no denying that the Sonos ecosystem brings a lot of extra features and value to its speakers, but if you just want a single portable speaker, you need to weigh how often you’ll use these features and if they’re worth it for you.
Why you’d want a Sonos Roam
The Sonos Roam is a great portable speaker. It features a cute design, room-filling sound quality and access to the company’s smart speaker ecosystem. This gives it a real advantage over the competition and places it in the top tier of portable Bluetooth speakers, like the UE Boom 3, the Bose Soundlink colour and the JBL Flip 5.
When you first hold the Roam, you’ll notice that its triangle design fits into your hand. The build quality also feels quite premium, with a soft rubberized back and a smooth plastic front. If you’ve felt a Sonos Move, the materials feel the same, but it only weighs 0.43kg and is easier to carry around.
“I really like the Roam, but it’s not quite as mind-blowing as the company’s other speakers”
The speaker can stand upright or on its side. When it’s on its laying down, the triangle shape does a good job of directing the sound up, which is ideal since it’s often going to be placed on tables and low furniture. All the buttons on the top are very clicky and Sonos finally got rid of its confusing touch-sensitive buttons and replaced them with a more traditional layout and control scheme.
The Roam also charges via USB-C at up to 15-watts and wirelessly with a Qi-compatible charger. You can buy a magnetic dock from Sonos that wirelessly charges the Roam or use another wireless charger to establish a home for the speaker in your house. While expensive, magnetic chargers ensure your device is always placed correctly.
Since this speaker is a Sonos product, it’s a smart speaker whenever it’s connected to Wi-Fi. This also means it’s always using a little battery. The company says the Roam can last for up to ten days in sleep mode, but if you’re playing music on it every day, it will die somewhat quickly since it only has 10-hours of music playback.
This is why it’s great to have a home base that keeps the Roam charged when not in use. The Sonos Move came with a dock and it never really dies in my house since it always goes back to its dock to charge when I’m done with it. You can do the same thing with a cable and the Roam, but it’s more convenient to drop it onto a wireless charger.
The Roam’s sound quality is also pretty great. I find it balanced and when I place it about head level on top of my shelf, it fills my office with impressive sound that most people would be surprised comes from such a small speaker. There are two speaker drivers inside the device, including a tweeter for crisp highs and a mid-woofer to cover the mid-range and bass.
This is a solid combo that doesn’t blow out the bass like many other speakers, but its sound profile isn’t as versatile or well-equipped as the company’s other speakers. The Roam is a decent sounding Bluetooth speaker, but it doesn’t offer sound that’s as detailed or as full as the Sonos One, the Move or even a lower-priced Ikea X Sonos Symfonisk speaker.
I really like the Roam, but it’s not quite as mind-blowing as the company’s other speakers. It shines at louder volumes, but music becomes a bit muddier when you turn it down low. That said, the sound coverage feels more expansive than you’d expect from a small speaker, and the more I use it, the more it surprises me.
This can be attributed to the speakers of course, but also Sonos’ Auto TruePlay technology. It scans a room using the speaker’s built-in microphones and adjusts its music output to give the best sound possible for your space. TruePlay works great indoors where it uses corners and other surfaces to bounce sound. It also works over Bluetooth outside, but it’s not as noticeable.
Since this is a Sonos speaker, you also get access to all the company’s smart features. This includes multi-room audio with other Sonos speakers and AirPlay 2 devices. One of the new features the company added to the Roam is the ability to connect your phone to Bluetooth and then cast that song to all your other Sonos speakers.
The other new feature is the ability to pass music from the Roam to your other Sonos speakers by holding the play/pause button for three seconds. Like Bluetooth pass-through, this isn’t something I often use since I rarely walk into my house with music playing on my Bluetooth speaker. If I did, I would just take the speaker with me to wherever I’m going since that’s typically easier than swapping to another Sonos device.
You can also take music from another Sonos speaker by holding the Roam near it and holding the play/pause button. Once again, this isn’t a feature I used much, but once I pulled music playing from a Sonos One to the basement using the Roam and not the Sonos app, it felt pretty slick.
Like Sonos’ other speakers, the Roam has the ability to act as either a Google Assistant or Alexa smart speaker. Overall, its three mic array works well and I felt that it was able to hear me from a decent distance. These even worked fairly well when the music was playing loudly.
Why you might not want a Roam
There really isn’t anything significantly wrong with this speaker other than it might be overloaded with features you can’t use if you don’t own other Sonos smart speakers.
For instance, you need to download the Sonos app and setup this speaker over Wi-Fi with a Sonos account. The setup process is pretty smooth and uses NFC to transfer info if you already have a Sonos system. But if you just want a simple Bluetooth speaker, this is a lot of setup compared to turning a speaker on, pairing it with your smartphone over Bluetooth and playing music.
Beyond that, having to play music via a connected app will likely be a little annoying for some users. That said, both Apple Music and Spotify can cast to Sonos products quite easily, but it’s still a little more confusing than Bluetooth. Sonos can play music at higher quality via Wi-Fi than Bluetooth, but that really doesn’t matter with a smaller speaker like this.
“While the Roam is IP67 rated, allowing it to be submerged in a few feet of water for a short amount of time, it doesn’t float like other rugged Bluetooth speakers”
Beyond that, you need to keep the Roam plugged in whenever you’re not using it. This isn’t the case with other Bluetooth speakers. When I’m not using my UE Wonderboom 2, I just turn it off and leave it on a shelf. When I turn it on the next time I pick it up, it’s still good to go. Since the Sonos Roam goes into a low-power state so it can always act as a smart speaker when on Wi-Fi, I find that it dies more often than I’d like.
While the Roam is IP67 rated, allowing it to be submerged in a few feet of water for a short amount of time, it doesn’t float like other rugged Bluetooth speakers. This isn’t going to affect most people who use the speaker, but, the added peace of mind of a floating speaker if you spend a lot of time near water, is priceless.
I also use the hooks and straps on other speakers to hang them on my backpack or high places to play music from. Unfortunately, the Roam lacks this feature as well.
As a speaker, the Sonos Roam is great. It provides balanced sound, and when it comes down to it, that’s enough for most people.
It even features access to a lot of high-level features like multi-room audio, Amazon and Google’s digital assistants, wireless charging and more. Sonos fans are likely to be pleased with this $229 speaker that fits into a bag way more easily than a Move.
However, for many people, these extras features are likely to go unused and might even be annoying in the long run. If you just want a simple Bluetooth speaker that acts more as you’d expect without all the extra bells and whistles, the $200 UE Boom 3 costs a little less than the Sonos Roam, sounds the same, has a better battery life and floats if you drop it in a lake.
It really comes down to if you see yourself collecting a few more Sonos speakers over the years or not. If you plan to build a Sonos-based home audio system, then the Roam is the perfect place to start. If you just want a Bluetooth speaker, I’d look elsewhere.
Sonos has come a long way in the last few years. It dominated the living room audio space with the Arc. It got its speakers into an Audi car, and now it even has a really compelling portable Bluetooth speaker. All that’s really left to do is take on the headphone market, which rumours indicate the company might do very soon.
You can pre-order the Roam from Sonos for $229 CAD.
“This is the perfect speaker for Sonos fans, for everyone else, it’s just a speaker”
Canada’s Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband
By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.
Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for his shareholders – “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery.”
Telesat’s LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon’s, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.
Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company’s business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.
Telesat’s 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.
Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.
Those ideas eventually led to Telesat’s LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics.
Telesat’s first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk’s Starlink satellites in orbit.
“Starlink is going to be in service much sooner … and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers,” said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics.
Starlink’s “first mover” advantage is at most 24 months and “no one’s going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time,” Goldberg said.
Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer.
They are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe’s ArianeGroup , and Musk’s SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months.
Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.
The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects.
“We think we’re in the sweet spot,” Goldberg said. “When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.”
Analyst Henry said Telesat’s focus on business clients is the right one.
“You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market,” he said. “If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive.”
Telesat’s industry experience may also provide an edge.
“We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage,” Goldberg said.
Telesat “is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business,” said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.
Telesat is nailing down financing – one-third equity and two-thirds debt – and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company’s main shareholders.
France and Canada’s export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec’s provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada’s federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.
Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said.
“When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren’t focused on their own LEO constellations.”
($1 = 1.2622 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
$600K donation to boost online mental health programming in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Health’s mental health and addictions program hopes to offer more online support to people across the province after receiving a significant donation this week.
The QEII Foundation announced that RBC is contributing $600,000 toward the province’s e-mental health programming.
“It’s particularly important for the current time under all the strains of COVID,” said Dr. Andrew Harris, a psychiatrist and the senior medical director for the program.
The plan for online programming has been in the works for years, he said, but the pandemic expedited the push. Last June, the department launched a number of applications that can be used to help those with anxiety, depression and addictions.
Since then, as many as 3,000 Nova Scotians have used the site to access mental health services.
“There’s a persistent difficulty in accessing services,” Harris said of traditional models in Nova Scotia. He said those who don’t need intensive therapy may find the support they need through the online programs.
He uses the example of someone who can’t take time off work to speak to a clinician.
“It’s better for them to be able to access a service after hours or on the weekend. So our e-mental health services are tailored a little bit to meet that need.”
Calls to crisis line increase
Harris said the province’s mental health crisis line continues to see a 30 per cent increase in calls for help, so he’s trying to raise awareness that services can be accessed immediately online.
“I think everyone is aware that for a lot of people it’s much easier to talk about a physical illness than a mental illness. So there’s an allowance there for privacy, for some anonymity but still making available things that can help the person who is struggling in the community.”
The online portal has a list of programs that people can use, covering things like reducing stress, solving problems and becoming mindful. It mirrors a site in Newfoundland and Labrador that Harris said is used to help people in remote areas.
Harris said the donation from RBC will be used to continue to evaluate more services, and pay for the licensing of the products that are mostly developed by other organizations.
He encourages anyone who is struggling to test out the site, and use it as an entry point into the mental health system.
“It’s important for people to acknowledge when they’re struggling. It happens to all of us through our lives in different times.”
Anyone in Nova Scotia looking to access the tools can visit: https://mha.nshealth.ca.
Samsung’s cheapest 5G Galaxy phones yet are launching this month
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- Samsung is launching five new phones in its Galaxy A series this month.
- Three of them will support 5G connectivity, and the most expensive phone is just $500.
- The cheapest phone of the five still has three cameras but lacks 5G and other features.
- See more buying advice on the Insider Reviews homepage.
Samsung may be best known for its high-end Galaxy S phones that rival the iPhone. But the tech giant is proving that it can appeal to cost-conscious customers with the launch of five new smartphones in the United States, the priciest of which only costs $500.
Samsung’s new lineup of budget phones, which debuted in other markets before coming to the US, are all launching this month. Some of them will be released as soon as this week, while the least expensive model will debut on April 29. The launch comes as competitors like Apple and Google have also been focusing on cheaper smartphones to boost sales.
Three of these new Samsung devices also support 5G, another sign that shoppers no longer have to pay a premium to get access to next-generation wireless networks. All five of the new phones also have the traditional headphone jack for wired listening and run on an octa-core processor.
Here’s a look at the new Samsung Galaxy A series phones that will be launching soon.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
- Release date: April 9
- Price: $499.99
The Galaxy A52 5G is the most expensive smartphone of the bunch. It comes with a 6.5-inch FHD+ screen and a quad-camera system that includes some of the same features as Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy S phones. These include Single Take, which creates several different photos or video clips with different effects with a single press of the shutter button.
Its screen can also boost its refresh rate up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling and performance, a feature that has become common on pricier flagship phones but is rare on cheaper models. It’s also the only phone in this A-series lineup to include Samsung’s notch-free screen design.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
- Release date: April 8
- Price: $399.99
The less expensive Galaxy A42 5G has a slightly larger screen than the A52 5G, but scales back on certain features when it comes to the camera and screen refresh rate.
Still, it has a triple-lens camera with high-resolution sensors, and like its pricier sibling it also supports Single Take.
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
Release date: April 9
The Galaxy A32 5G is Samsung’s cheapest 5G smartphone to date. It has a large 6.5-inch screen, but it’s made from an LCD panel instead of Super AMOLED. That means it will likely lack some of the contrast and boldness of Samsung’s other devices. But Samsung hasn’t skimped on the camera considering this model has a quad-lens main camera, which is rare if not unheard of at that price.
Samsung Galaxy A12
Release date: April 9
Samsung’s Galaxy A12 doesn’t come with 5G support, but it still gives you a lot for the price. For less than $200, you’re getting a quad-lens camera and a large 6.5-inch LCD screen. But remember this phone only has 32GB of storage, so it’s best suited for those who don’t store a lot of photos and videos on their device.
Samsung Galaxy A02s
- Release date: April 29
- Price: $109.99
The Galaxy A02s is Samsung’s cheapest phone, offering a 6.5-inch LCD screen and three main cameras. It doesn’t have 5G support or as much computing power or camera prowess as Samsung’s other A-series phones, but that’s to be expected for a device at this price. This phone is truly for those who just need the basics and little else.
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Source:- Business Insider