A portable speaker with good looks and smarts, the Beoplay A1 is a fantastic entry point to the world of Bang & Olufsen audio, even if its Alexa integration can be spotty.
Strong battery life
Alexa capabilities can be fiddly
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There's a tendency for portable speakers to reflect their ruggedness in their design, but not much for those who want a beautiful speaker that can be moved around with ease. The Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) from Bang & Olufsen more than fills this sparse area in the market, with a premium design and complete portability - enhanced with in-built Alexa smarts and IP67 water and dustproof rating.
Priced at about $250, you wouldn't exactly call it affordable, but it is B&O's entry-level speaker of today. Fans of the brand will expect to pay a premium for the luxury touch and will also know that B&O has a well-deserved reputation for quality.
We review the speaker below to see whether it deserves a place in your home - or your handbag - and you can check out more like it in our guide to the best Alexa speakers.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 (2nd Gen): Specs & Features
- Power: 60W, Battery
- Battery life: 18-42 hours
- Waterproof: IP67 (meaning it will survive 30 minutes in the water)
- Smart platform: Alexa
- Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.8 x 5.2in
- Weight: 1.2lbs
Setting up the Beoplay A1 using the B&O and Alexa apps is very simple, especially if you have used either before. Just add the device to your B&O account and follow the instructions from there.
Unfortunately, getting the speaker to listen to our commands without first opening the app and tapping the Alexa button was extremely patchy. Functionality is also limited while you have the device charging, making setting alarms for the morning a bit of a fool's errand.
The trouble comes down to the Beoplay A1 connecting to your phone via Bluetooth, which must then be connected to the Wi-Fi. This makes it a clever accessory to your phone rather than a standalone Alexa device.
Controlling the speaker
There are, of course, controls on the unit itself. Around the edge, you'll find buttons for power, play/pause, volume, Bluetooth pairing, and the microphone.
All in all, we would recommend the Beoplay A1 as an Alexa speaker to use in conjunction with other smart speakers around the home. It works on its own in theory, but the sound quality for music listening is really where it shines. In addition, there are Multipoint features that make it simple to connect multiple devices.
There's also Bluetooth 5.1 and three microphones, making the speaker ideal for just listening to music and podcasts from your phone or speaking to friends and family with a good speaker for once. We especially enjoyed the ability to connect with other Alexa speakers (either inside or outside your household) to have a quick conversation.
The audio quality is as good as any Bluetooth speaker we've tested, and the EQ options within the B&O app are welcome. These include 'bright,' 'energetic,' 'warm; and 'relaxed,' which you can mix to your heart's content.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 (2nd Gen): Design
Weighing in at 1.2lbs, the Beoplay A1 is certainly portable but a little on the heavier side for those who want to use the leather strap for its intended purpose. Product images show people hanging the speaker off their wrists, but this isn't recommended unless you want a serious arm ache in the morning.
The strap does look lovely as a highlight, though, setting off the premium look of the jewel-toned speaker.
We reviewed the 'grey mist' variation, but it is also available in 'anthracite' (black), green, gold, pink, 'sport' (black with blue accents), and a limited Berluti edition.
The dust and waterproof rating will be useful for those who want to take their speaker out and about with them, whether that's to the beach or just beside the bath on a Sunday evening. The pearl-blasted aluminum casing feels sturdy in general, though we didn't actually drop it to test that theory!
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 (2nd Gen): Our Verdict
You really can't fault the appearance of the Bang & Olufsen A1 (2nd Gen), with its gorgeous pearly casing and contrasting leather strap looking perfect popped on a desk while you work or just on the side. We love any device that combines great, leading specs with an eye for detail and beauty.
While we found using the speaker as our main Alexa device was tricky, it works perfectly as an additional speaker or for those who primarily want solid audio when listening to music, podcasts, or making calls. In today's hybrid working world, it is also the perfect agile device to have with you wherever you go.
About this review
Caroline writes about smart homes, speakers, and technology across Livingetc, highlighting the best gadgets and devices that are worth incorporating into your home set-up.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 (2nd Gen) speaker was tested in a small studio as a standalone Bluetooth and Alexa speaker, connected to various smart appliances around the home, including fans and robot vacuum cleaners.
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Caroline is the smart home ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.
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