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Vizio's Cast-powered speakers offer an alternative to Sonos

Engadget Engadget 8/09/2016 Billy Steele
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Vizio first announced plans to bring Google Cast to its wireless speakers back in March. Now that the multi-room SmartCast Crave 360 is available for purchase, Vizio hopes you'll give it a look instead of splurging for some Sonos gear. As you might expect, the speaker that looks kind of like an Amazon Echo is the Crave 360. The $250 circular device touts 2.1 audio, the ability to beam sound in any direction and it comes with a detachable charging base. Disconnect it and you've got a portable speaker with 8 hours of battery life.

The $300 Crave Pro also has 2.1 audio and it packs in a pair of subwoofers for more robust sound. This should translate to better bass over the Crave 360, but the Pro doesn't offer the same portability. The Crave 360 and the Crave Pro are controlled with a volume knob that rotates for those adjustments. The top of that same knob accepts taps and swipes to handle play, pause and skipping tracks.

Vizio's SmartCast speakers pack in Bluetooth connectivity in addition to WiFi, something Sonos doesn't have on its feature list. While you'll get better audio quality via Cast and WiFi, it's nice to have the option and you'll need it with the mobile Crave 360. Both speakers also have aluminum exteriors for a more sophisticated look than a lot of the other options, too.

To manage the multi-room setup, you'll need to employ the Vizio SmartCast app. However, you can control your music and other content from any Cast-friendly applications like Spotify, Deezer and others. This is another area where Vizio differs from Sonos. Right now, you have to use the Sonos controller app to manage music, but the company recently announced that Spotify Connect and other integration is on the way. What's more, these two Crave speakers play nice with Vizio's SmartCast soundbars that are already on sale. Speaking of availability, you can snag the Crave 360 now directly from Vizio and at Sam's Club while the Crave Pro is listed as "coming soon."

Vizio

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