B&O Play’s Beolit 12

Bang & Olufsen's publicist sent me a "By Invitation Only & You Are Invited" email, promising to "unveil the newest innovations" and "the unveiling of a new, iconic product concept." (I pity the poor housekeeping staff at CES, having to clean up all the veils discarded by manufacturers.)

Reduced to its essentials, the "new, iconic product concept" is a division within B&O under a new brand, called "B&O Play." As I understand it, the products with the B&O Play brand will have all the traditional quality that B&O is known for, but they'll be less luxury-oriented, more "fun"—and perhaps less expensive. The first product under this brand is the Beolit 12, a portable (battery-powered), AirPlay-equipped sound system. As you can see in the photo, the Beolit 12—demoed by B&O's Vice President, Henrik Taudorf Lorensen—is quite compact, but it's very solidly built. At $799, this is near the top end of the range for products of this sort, but it might just be worth it. In a brief demo, Beolit 12 impressed me with its ability to play loud without distortion, and its bass was hard to credit to such a relatively small box.