Monday, March 8, 2021

Polk React Soundbar: Wireless, Expandable, With Alexa Smarts

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Polk Audio

Polk Audio has a new take on the connected soundbar experience, with the newly-announced Polk React, a $249 soundbar that can be expanded through an optional $199 wireless React subwoofer, and a $199 set of SR2 wireless surround speakers. All three components are available starting today from the Polk Audio website, Amazon, and other authorized resellers.

On its own, the React soundbar can deliver a virtualized Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 surround sound experience via HDMI ARC or an optical connection to your TV. Inside the soundbar are two mid-range drivers, two tweeters, and two passive radiators for bass. Adding the optional components makes it a true, discrete 5.1 home theater system, with no wiring needed.

As an Alexa-powered smart speaker, it also has some other tricks up its fabric-wrapped sleeve.

With four far-field microphones, Polk claims it has no trouble detecting your preferred Alexa wake-word, even in loud environments. It’s compatible with the Alexa multiroom music platform, so you can add it to a series of other wireless speakers around your house, each controlled by the Alexa app.

Polk React 5.1 Wireless Soundbar with Alexa
Polk Audio

Naturally, all of the usual Alexa-based voice tasks like getting weather forecasts or managing shopping lists will work, but there are also some soundbar-specific skills, like asking Alexa to adjust volume and bass levels and select listening modes.

The React also works with other Alexa home theater devices like a Fire TV Stick or Fire TV Blaster. When connected to a Fire TV Stick, you can use the React to queue up and play movies or TV shows without touching a remote. If you have a Fire TV Blaster, that control extends to TVs, cable boxes, and other devices.

Because the React is compatible with the Alexa Communication feature, you can use it for hands-free, no-cost calls to friends and family in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, if they also have a compatible Alexa device.

Polk React 5.1 Wireless Soundbar with Alexa
Polk Audio

Voice control is the easiest way to work with the React, but it also ships with its own dedicated remote control. This can be used for accessing the one-button preset sound modes: Movie Mode, Music Mode, and Night Mode. But you can also use it with Polk Audio’s Voice Adjust technology, which lets you tweak voice and dialog levels without affecting the volume of background sounds.

This model doesn’t support AirPlay or Chromecast, but there is Bluetooth for audio streaming from your smartphone or tablet.

Polk Audio has a good reputation for quality sound systems, so we expect the React will perform very well for its price, but as soon as we get a chance to test it in-person we’ll let you know the final verdict.

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