An impressive speaker even without the smarts, the Sonos Roam is the ultimate portable assistant that also looks great in the home. Equally useable outside and small enough to fit in your handbag, we were seriously impressed with this upgraded on-the-go option from Sonos.
Wireless use with up to 10 hours battery life
Choice of Google Assistant or Alexa
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When it comes to multi-room, multi-assistant smart speakers, Sonos arguably rules the market. While not specifically luxury or interiors focused like Bang & Olufsen or Marshall, Sonos speakers invariably offer a ton of useful features, flexibility, and - above all - quality audio.
The Sonos Roam is a significant update on the brand's previous portable option, the Sonos Move, and it's an improvement in pretty much every way. Whereas the Move was heavy and large (though with a built-in handle), the Roam can be held in one hand and is small enough to go into a handbag or backpack.
We tested the Sonos Roam to see whether it lived up to the promise and whether it could really deliver a smart home experience in such a small package. And you can check out our guide to see how it measures up against the best smart speakers.
Sonos Roam: Set-up and features
- Assistant: Alexa or Google Assistant
- Waterproof: IP67
- Battery life: 10 hours
- Dimensions: 6.6 x 2.3 x 2.4in
- Weight: 0.93lbs
As with most of the brand's smart products, the Sonos Roam gives users the choice of whether to use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, as both come built-in. As we have the most experience using Google's offering, we went for this option. This also meant that setting up the speaker using the Sonos and Google Home apps was extremely simple. If you're a newcomer, you will need to set up accounts.
To get the device itself up and running you will need to charge it using the USB-C cable provided, then press the button next to this port on the back of the speaker. On the side, you will find controls for play/pause, the microphone (for when you want to ask your assistant something), and volume up and down.
When the charging cable is connected, a small orange light appears on the front. We did find that the power button is quite fiddly to press, making the period between plugging in the speaker and having enough charge to use it a bit difficult to determine. This may not be a problem for everyone's fingers, of course.
When the speaker is actually ready to be used, the aforementioned light turns blue.
Once you've mastered the basics, it's good to know (which we didn't at first) that these controls actually perform multiple functions. For example, holding down the play/pause button allows you to 'group or swap' between Sonos speakers, while triple and double presses select the previous and next track, respectively.
The Sonos app also gives you quite a few more customization options, and this is where you can get really picky about audio should you want to. Thankfully, for those who just want it to sound good, there's TruePlay tuning that adapts the sound to the space the speaker is in at the time. For example, the same song will sound very different in the kitchen than it does in the local park.
Streaming music sounds fantastic when connected to the Wi-Fi, and you can also do this via Bluetooth when the router isn't nearby. And, as Trueplay tuning uses the microphone to do its work, this also works over a when you aren't anywhere near a Wi-Fi connection.
Unfortunately, we were not able to test out the multi-room capabilities of the Roam, which allow more than one Sonos speaker to be paired for seamless audio across the entire home (or stereo sound in a single space) but, with the company's wide range of speakers, this is definitely an advantage over some of its rivals.
- Read next: get Amazon's smart assistant at home with the best Alexa speakers
Sonos Roam: Design and portability
Because they're designed to withstand things like weather, dust, and other outdoor elements, portable speakers tend to be quite industrial-looking. Sonos thankfully does things a little different and, while the design of the Roam doesn't scream luxury, it is more in keeping with what you might want from a device placed on the mantlepiece or bedside table.
As mentioned, unlike the Sonos Move the Roam has no handle for transportation, but that's largely because it is so easy to grip or even put in a (large) pocket if needed. That means a cleaner aesthetic overall, with the main body of the speaker remaining extremely simple with only the Sonos logo on the mesh plastic finish.
Controls are found on the left edge (if facing the speaker), allowing you to position it vertically on the right edge if you want. Everything has been kept the same color, including the buttons, to support the overall minimalist design.
And, weighing in at 0.93lbs, the Roam definitely keeps its promise of portability, and the option to position it either on its side or horizontally is a great touch that adds convenience when you want to use it in different spaces.
Sonos Roam: Our Verdict
We dare say that Sonos seems to have mastered the portable smart speaker with the Roam, which is small and light enough to truly be taken on the go, rugged enough to not sustain any damage on the way, and beautiful enough to look just as much at home in the living room. The sound quality is predictably impressive considering the brand's reputation, but it makes even more of an impact considering the minute size of the device.
About this review
Caroline is Livingetc's smart homes editor, testing products, devices, and gadgets that claim to make our lives easier with their connectivity. The Sonos Roam (white) was tested in a small studio space and garden to see how the speaker's output sounds both indoors and outdoors. It was tested with Google Assistant, rather than Alexa, using an Apple device for apps and Bluetooth.
When not reviewing speakers, Caroline can usually be found trying to problem-solve by adapting smart technology to small space living.
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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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