Q When will the 6-inch soundbar by Cambridge SoundWorks be launched? I cannot use a regular soundbar with my 5-year-old flat-screen TV. They are too long, look awkward on my stand and block the TV's remote sensor.
-- D.J., Atlantic City, N.J.
A The new small soundbar, which I dubbed "the soundbrick," is still under development. Fortunately for you and others, Cambridge SoundWorks is launching another product that will likely serve you as well, and for less money. In fact, they may have inadvertently made their own future soundbrick somewhat obsolete.
Regular readers of the column are familiar with the Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ speaker I have recommended for the past year. The OontZ is a great-sounding small Bluetooth speaker with speakerphone capability and 10 hours of battery life. Since it has been introduced the OontZ has been a smash hit, earning critical acclaim and lots of positive feedback from my readers. At only $69 the value equation is undeniable and it has been on the 10 best-selling Bluetooth speakers list on Amazon for quite some time now. Its $39 stablemate, the OontZ Angle, is currently Amazon's best seller.
The new OontZ XL is exactly what its name infers: an extra-large OontZ. It is slightly taller and deeper and about twice as long as the regular OontZ. It comes with an AC adapter for power and charging and the speaker has a USB port that can be used to charge your phone or other USB devices. It is noticeably heavier, has rich-feeling touch controls on top and speakerphone capability is included.
The regular OontZ is very impressive, but the OontZ XL ups the ante in much more dramatic fashion than one would expect from a simple increase in size. The sound is fuller, richer, and more detailed. Even more impressive is the volume and bass. It can play loudly enough to fill a good-sized room with satisfying, dynamic sound.
When I was testing the OontZ XL I came to realize that it could be just the answer to the poor sound problems that plague many TV watchers. You can use a mini plug-to-mini plug cable to connect the OontZ XL to your TV's headphone output. Plug it into the wall, turn it on and turn the volume close to maximum. This will allow you to control the volume with the TV's remote control, yielding a small, permanent, and powerful solution that will work well in all but the very largest of rooms.
If your TV does not have a headphone output you can use the analog audio outputs if it has them, or use a converter with the TV's digital audio output. Many TVs are starting to include Bluetooth as well, which would make connecting the OontZ XL a snap.
I get tons of email complaints when readers miss out on deals I write about, so please pay attention to this part. On Thursday, the OontZ XL was released and available for order. The regular price is $149.99, which is an excellent value as it is. As a 30-day introductory offer the OontZ XL is now available for $99 instead of the regular selling price of $149. That's a killer deal and only $30 more than the OontZ speaker launch price. For more info, visit www.theoontz.com
Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadviceblog.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.