Sony’s weird new TV remote doubles up as a wireless speaker
Have you ever found yourself saying “this remote control is great and all, but I really wish it would play some tunes”? Me neither. Nonetheless, Sony believes it has spotted a gap in the market, and today launched a remote that doubles as a wireless speaker for the TV.
Let’s put the “why” on hold and deal with the “what” though. We’ll begin with the name, which – I kid you not – is “The Wireless Handy TV Speaker” (or SRS-LSR100 if that’s not catchy enough.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “handy” in a product name outside of 1980s infomercials before, so it’s nice to see the term coming back. Not content with bringing back one long-forgotten marketing phrase, Sony’s PRs refer to it as “nifty” in the accompanying press release, so doing their bit for dialectologists everywhere this morning.
As the name suggests, it’s intended for use with televisions, acting as a kind of very localised soundbar, only without half as much grunt. It is, after all, powered by batteries – batteries which promise to last 16 hours on a single charge. It works with “virtually all modern TVs”, and has a number of controls on the top, letting viewers change the channel and adjust the volume on the fly.
While it may look like a baffling product on the surface, Sony actually has very noble intentions with the Wireless Handy TV Speaker. The company notes that for those that are hard of hearing, watching television with those that aren’t can be an “isolating experience” – people with better hearing don’t welcome the volume being raised to uncomfortable levels. Sony’s hope is that by giving the hard of hearing their own dedicated speaker, they can adjust the levels to their needs without disturbing other viewers.
Your TV is compatible, as long as it has a headphone jack or an optical out port. The device comes with its own charging cradle, to try and make it as simple as possible, and it’s splash proof, meaning that people can take it into the kitchen without fear of causing problems.
When I first saw the speaker, I thought it was an oddball product without a market – now I definitely see its use, but I still struggle to see it gaining traction. Why? Well, aside from the name and its inability to translate why it’s useful in a straightforward manner, the final nail in the coffin is the price: £170 is, to my mind, too big an ask for such a niche product.
Which is a shame, because Sony has identified a real problem here. Hopefully, this is the first of many such products, and others will pick up the baton to ensure that families can watch the same shows without anyone being left behind.