Today Bowers & Wilkins is unveiling its new AirPlay-enabled HomePod competitor, the Formation Flex. This speaker joins the brand’s existing lineup of Formation products with a smaller footprint and support for Apple’s wireless music streaming medium. Bowers & Wilkins previously marked its multi-room audio line as a proprietary way to take on Sonos. However, the addition of AirPlay 2 takes it on a head-on collision with HomePod, despite a nearly $200 higher price tag overall. Given that Sonos One offers AirPlay 2 support for over 50% less, B&W is likely playing to a certain crowd for its new Formation Flex. Hit the jump for additional details on today’s release.
Formation Flex: High-resolution audio, AirPlay 2, more
Bowers & Wilkins has officially taken the wraps off its new Formation Flex speaker, which focuses on high-resolution audio and ample connectivity. Alongside support for AirPlay 2 is a bevy of other wireless mediums, including Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, and a Wi-Fi radio built-in. Like just about every other wireless speaker out there these days, B&W puts a focus on multi-room and stereo setups with the Formation Flex. Encouraging users to go beyond a single unit in favor of whole-home audio blanketing your space with music from your preferred source.
The outer casing shines as a departure from what you’d typically see in this product category. A textured shell with gold accents gives the Formation Flex a premium visual that is sure to fit in better with some decors. Inside is a performance tweeter and woven glass fiber cone woofer technology, which Bowers & Wilkins promises will deliver best in class sound.
A HomePod competitor?
While it’s natural to pair up Formation Flex against HomePod, pricing may suggest otherwise. At £399, Americans can expect to pay around $500 for the latest from Bowers & Wilkins. That’s likely going to be a hard sell given that HomePod pricing is now down to $300 and routinely less at other retailers.
Add in that Sonos One offers many of the same features, save for Siri-integration, at $199 and that makes the Formation Flex look all the more tone-deaf when it comes to pricing. For those serious about audio, today’s new release may be a more natural fit. And if you’re already in the Bowers & Wilkins ecosystem, then certainly so. But for everyone else, going with a more affordable alternative may be the more sensible option.
The Bowers & Wilkins Formation Flex is set to release later this year. Final pricing in North America has yet to be announced. You can learn more on this landing page.