Sonos Roam falls just short of being the ideal portable assistant according to Google Home Essentials

Although Google Assistant is accessible on a wide range of devices, the bulk of practical smart speakers that enable it are made to be used exclusively indoors. I’ve been looking for a way to wirelessly distribute Assistant and subsequently Chromecast audio across my house. The Sonos Roam turns out to be just what I’ve been hoping for.

Sonos Roam is a wireless speaker that runs on a AAA battery and connects to the internet primarily for music streaming. So let’s begin by discussing sound quality.

Roam has great sound quality, as you would expect from the Sonos brand given its small size. The little speaker is portable and produces volume that I would anticipate from a device twice its size. Although I found clarity to be optimum at or below 50% level, you won’t be dissatisfied if you need to turn up the volume. This device works well as a gardening buddy and for playing music while having a barbecue in your backyard. Roam sounds better than it should for its size, possibly because to the Auto TruePlay feature that adapts the sound based on the area, however you can’t expect perfection or even quality that matches the rest of the Sonos portfolio.

The Roam can be used to play music directly from the Sonos app or through Spotify Connect, but what truly makes it stand out in my opinion is the fact that it also functions as a Google Assistant speaker. After a brief setup procedure guides you through connecting Sonos Roam to Google Assistant, the device may be used as a target for any app that supports audio over Chromecast and can listen for Hey Google instructions. Even at a distance, the Roam could understand assistant commands, and I was pleased with how swiftly it would act upon them, something that other third-party gadgets of this type can find a little challenging. If you desire even more privacy, the mic has a simple toggle.

However, there are several limitations that prevent me from referring to this as the ideal portable Google Assistant speaker.

You cannot pair the Sonos Roam with other Google Assistant speakers located across your home in order to play music simultaneously due to the ongoing Sonos dispute over speaker grouping. It was disappointing to learn that I couldn’t use the Roam as a portable speaker system for my entire house when entertaining guests or on cleaning days. The Google Home app’s handling of Roam is another little oddity. Unfortunately, you cannot manage the level or music playing on the Roam inside the wonderful Media area of the Home apps because it displays as a random speaker.

I had to link Spotify Premium to my Sonos account in order to perform Google Assistant instructions, which was a grating quirk of Sonos’ convoluted relationship with Google. Given that Roam comes with native Spotify Connect integration, I was ready to ignore the annoying but manageable issue. These peculiarities are ways that Sonos tries to get you to use their app, but outside of setup, I haven’t done that. If you only want to integrate the Roam into your Google Assistant ecosystem, you don’t need to use that app. Chris Welch provides a great overview of at the Verge if you want to learn more about how the Roam works with other Sonos products.

Roam was playing music when these pictures were collected, but Sonos won’t tell Google that

On this model, the hardware endures nicely. As was already noted, the design keeps the device tiny, but it is also well-planned. The Roam may be placed in two different orientations because to the rounded triangle, which also guarantees that audio will mostly go in one direction. The latter is preferable for accessing the on-device controls. You can set it down either horizontally or vertically. When using it near a pool, on a dusty day, or when it looks like it could rain, it’s excellent that the complete package is IP-rated for water and dust protection. Heck, if you wanted to, you could even take it in the shower.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Sonos offers normal Qi wireless charging if you don’t want to use the USB-C cord, which I loved for its portability. However, I chose to utilize a third-party charger because the Sonos-branded at $49 model is unreasonably costly. Any $10 Qi charger will do the trick.

Battery life is a nice touch to complete out the experience. Although Sonos did warn of an issue at launch that might cause Google Assistant to deplete the battery very quickly, I was able to run the speaker for a couple of hours outside while working in the yard and washing cars and it didn’t drain down too far. Although I didn’t see that, if you were, it might have a negative impact on your 10-hour claim. Google has already agreed to make a correction.

The Wi-performance Fi’s was also excellent. Although I can’t say the Roam manages connectivity better than my smartphones, it can surely go beyond the range of my Google Wi-Fi system and doesn’t lag much when it’s farthest from the network. On a large property, you might encounter problems, but as long as your expectations are reasonable, I don’t think you’ll be let down. You will of course lose access to Google Assistant while you are outside of Wi-Fi range, but you may still use this product with your smartphone as a standard Bluetooth speaker.

I’ve found the Sonos Roam to be the ideal travel speaker for listening to music even when I’m not necessarily seated in the same spot. It will likely become one of the pillars of my Google Home ecosystem in the future, in my opinion. I can’t overlook the cost, though. $169 is not inexpensive, and it might not be worthwhile for many people. Fortunately, there are other options. You could get a traditional Bluetooth speaker and use it just with your phone, or you could purchase a battery base for the Google Home Mini, the original Google Home , or what I would consider to be the greatest sound quality, Nest Mini choice.

If Sonos Roam is within your price range, it is now shipping from , Best Buy , Bandamp;H Photo , and other merchants.

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