Factor reviews: Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 2

Bang & Olufsen has a reputation for making achingly beautiful tech with a price tag to match, so if you’re on the market for a wireless speaker that can be your main sound system for years to come, and – importantly – money is no option, look no further than the BeoSound 2.

Looking like the result of an illicit union between an Airsteam and darlek, the speaker is incredibly stylish and built to an extremely high quality, resulting in an object that would be an excellent aesthetic addition to a modern home, even if it didn’t actually do anything.

Encased in aluminium, it is a pleasure to look at and interact with, featuring an extremely pleasing and intuitive control system where the top can be twisted to adjust the volume.  There is no bewildering array of buttons and settings; music is simply sent to the speaker via connected devices over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – with very good compatibility with all the usual suspects – and plays without having to mess about or manually reconnect. Subtle sounds are also used to indicate events such as a device connecting, in a manner that feels natural and very easy to understand.

And then there is the sound. My god, the sound. The BeoSound 2 is described as having 360° sound, which it certainly does, but what Bang & Olufsen’s marketing material fails to do is describe how textured that sound feels. It has depth and feeling, in a manner I’ve only ever heard before with vinyl, and it’s truly pleasant to have playing, even if the music in question is decidedly sub-par. One very minor gripe was that some genres sounded a little bassier than may be desired, but I’ve yet to encounter a luxury speaker where this isn’t the case.

The volume, too, is hellishly impressive. At half-volume we were able to broadcast music to our entire open-plan office, and at full volume we could have easily provided tunes for a rave. Basically, I challenge you to find a room this speaker wouldn’t manage to fill, and if it does exist, it would almost certainly be able to house a small herd of elephants.

The initial setup was a little less than smooth, involving an app that doesn’t quite match B&O’s usual quality levels, but once this was completed we didn’t have to worry about it again once. And when our office Wi-Fi decided to give up for a few minutes, the speaker neatly reconnected without intervention, and continued to play whatever nonsense we were subjecting it to without complaint.

In short, if money was no issue, I’d be recommending this to everyone without hesitation. But unfortunately it is, and for most people it’s going to be a rather big sticking point. Because the BeoSound 2 isn’t just not cheap; it’s really very expensive, setting you back an eye-watering £1,475. And if that sounds like a lot of money to you – and it certainly does to me – then it’s probably not going to be worth it.

But if you are looking for a speaker that will likely last for years and supports a wide enough range of different services that it’s unlikely to become obsolete any time soon, and you are willing to pay over a grand for such an item, then you should definitely consider the BeoSound 2. It looks and sounds amazing.

Factor’s verdict:

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC