Sonos Playbase Could Change Everything. Or Not.
The long-suffering category of “sound bases” might get a boost from Sonos Playbase, inspiring new paradigms in loudspeakers, TV mounting, and accessories like Sanus’s Swiveling TV Base.
Sanus, a huge manufacturer of TV mounts, is the first to come out with an accessory made specifically for the new Sonos Playbase, a squat speaker that looks more like an oversized Roku box than a loudspeaker.
Playbase is meant to sit flat on a cabinet, below the TV, where a cable box might reside.
Since the Playbase sits on a cabinet, we might assume that the TV also would sit on the cabinet, rather than being mounted on a wall above the cabinet.
For such scenarios, Sanus’s new $150 Swiveling TV Base (co-developed with Sonos) is just the ticket.
I spied the unit more than three years ago at the Sanus offices in Minneapolis. It was a sleek, unassuming thing that was being built specifically for the Playbase … although Sanus didn’t exactly say so at the time.
It’s kind of a big deal to create a height-adjustable TV mount that sits on a cabinet, swivels, and has room beneath for something like a Playbase … and doesn’t topple over when you have a 60-inch display attached to it.
Sanus’s product is a marvel of engineering -- super-strong and perfectly balanced … and counterbalanced. Plus, the mount provides cable-management accommodations for a clean installation.
At the end of the day, says Sanus marketing VP Greg Andrews, the installation makes “the TV look like it’s hovering above the Playbase.”
A New Category is Born?
In our article introducing the new Playbase, someone commented, “Really Sonos? This is a product that absolutely no one asked for.”
But, hey, no one was asking for soundbars before that category emerged. Now soundbars are kind of a colossal thing.
“Sound bases” aren’t entirely new. They can be traced to at least 2009 when start-up Zvox launched a flat speaker with built-in amplification and on-board subwoofers.
Two years later, the company filed a Trademark for Soundbase, which was granted in 2012.
While several companies followed Zvox’s lead, the category has remained flat, so to speak.
Can Sonos succeed where others have failed? If so, the company could inspire a rash of new products to support (and compete with) the Playbase.
Surely, manufacturers would crank out TV mounts like Sanus’s. Furniture makers might built in spaces for a flat speaker, much as they have done for soundbars. New sound bases from Sonos competitors would certainly follow, and interior designers might eventually capitulate to the new design element.
Of course, the Playbase could very well fail in a product category that “absolutely no one asked for,” in which case none of these new phenomena would occur.
After all, no one has followed Sonos’s lead on Trueplay, an audio EQ platform for do-it-yourselfers.
One the other hand, as another reader posted on our Playbase story, “Sonos is doing pretty well, seems like they’re making what people want.”
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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