Here at WIRED, we like Sonos speakers. We really do. Throughout the past decade, we’ve reviewed all of the company’s wirelessly connectable speakers, from its small shelf speakers to its TV soundbars, and we’ve recommended every one of them. But turning your home into a Sonos-powered shrine to sound isn’t cheap. Like Apple products, Sonos speakers sell at a premium, starting at $120 for a basic bookshelf speaker. But which ones should you buy? Read on for our recommendations.
Updated December 2022: We’ve added the Sonos Ray Soundbar and the Sonos Sub Mini subwoofer and updated pricing and retailers.
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Best Overall Sonos Speaker
The Sonos One (Gen 2) is just about the smallest Sonos speaker, but it packs enough oomph to fill most rooms. Compared to its predecessor, the Gen 2 model has a faster processor and more memory. So it not only sounds better, it’ll also last longer—which means you won’t have to worry about upgrading it for a while.
We recommend other Sonos speakers in this guide, but you also can’t go wrong by just getting more Sonos Ones to fill up your house. Their hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant integration also makes them a lot more versatile. They can play music, tell you the weather, find a recipe, and answer simple questions, like any of our other favorite smart speakers. They also work with Siri via AirPlay 2. They’re much more affordable than other Sonos speakers too, and their small size means you can hide them in almost any room.
It’s nearly identical to the One but doesn’t have microphones, so you can only control it from your phone or the touch buttons on it (and you don’t have to worry about someone listening in to your home). The SL is also a good way to add more satellite speakers to your home. And if you want a speaker that can really belt it out, the Sonos Five ($549) sounds fantastic and is mic-less.
Best Speakers to Fill Out a Room
Earlier this year, Sonos reunited with Ikea to release a second-generation version of its bookshelf speaker. At $120, it’s a bit pricier than its $99 predecessor, but it does come with a few upgrades, including an increase in memory and a faster processor. We have yet to test this model, but we did like the first-generation version.
Looks aside, it sounds almost as good as a Sonos One. You can mount it right to your wall or stand it upright on a bookshelf or table. And if you want to network a few speakers together for a larger room, or connected rooms, this is the cheapest way to do it. It doesn’t directly take audio commands, because it has no mic, so you’ll need a Sonos One, Google speaker, or Alexa speaker that you can yell at if you want to control it with your voice. Other than that, it does everything you’d want a Sonos to do.
Sonos and Ikea also launched a new version of their unique table lamp. There is a white version, a black version, and a $169 version with a textile light shade. It offers enhanced sound and is more customizable this time around, with swappable shades. The first model, which you can read about in our dual review, sounded great. We have high hopes for the new version. Finally, if wall art is more your style, Ikea offers the Symfonisk Picture Frame with a built-in Sonos Wi-Fi Speaker for $249. We are currently testing the table lamp and will update this guide with our thoughts soon.
Best Portable Speaker With Bluetooth
The Sonos Roam (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is the company’s smallest and most portable speaker. With built-in Bluetooth connectivity (it’s one of our favorite Bluetooth speakers), you can easily throw it into a tote bag and play music on the go. Using the Sonos app, available for Android and iPhone, you also have the ability to stream from major services like Spotify, Apple Music (with support for AirPlay 2), Tidal, and more. And you can control the speaker via voice commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
It may not offer audiophile-approved sound for its stature, but it’s still fairly impressive. The dual-driver system, subwoofer, and tweeter work in tandem to provide a bold bass and clear highs—with zero distortion when the volume is cranked up. And with up to 10 hours of listening, it’ll last you a full beach day—and then some.
The Sonos Move is a bigger portable speaker with better sound. It packs Bluetooth connectivity, 11 hours of battery life, and onboard microphones that adapt its sound to the environment, plus it’s water-resistant. Can’t decide between the Roam and Move? You can purchase both of them for $578 at Sonos.
Best Sonos Soundbar (for Most)
As with the original Beam (8/10, WIRED Recommends), the second-generation Beam delivers impressive sound and has a sleek design. In terms of upgrades, it has a faster processor, support for Dolby Atmos (with compatible TVs and streaming apps) for enhanced sound, and an HDMI eARC port for higher-definition audio. You’ll also get hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant, and it works with Airplay 2. You can pair it with a Sonos Sub (an expensive subwoofer) and two other Sonos speakers for surround.
Sonos tweaked the design too, adding a polycarbonate grille to the front instead of a fabric cover as seen on the Gen 1 model. That’s supposed to make it easier to blend in with your interior decor. It’s $50 more than the previous model, which isn’t that much more expensive than the already expensive soundbar. For non-Sonos alternatives, read our Best Soundbars guide.
The standard Sonos Sub will cost you $749 at Sonos or Target. It’s superb but expensive. If you’re working with a smaller space, the less costly Sonos Sub Mini is $429 at Sonos (Target). Don’t bother buying surround speakers until you own a Sub, though. It will make a profound difference.
Best Small Soundbar
If you have an apartment or a smaller room, or are just getting started in the soundbar department, the Sonos Ray (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is a solid option for you. The Ray comes in a compact frame, but don’t let that fool you. The soundbar produces clear, crisp sound that easily fills your space with zooms and booms, quiet conversations, and any other moments you wouldn’t want to miss in your favorite movies and shows. Plus, with adjustable settings in the Sonos app, you can configure your ideal listening experience for every song on your favorite album.
This small soundbar easily fits on entertainment centers and dressers, or you can mount it on your wall to free up as much precious space as possible.
Wanna take it to the next level? You can pair the Ray with the Sonos Sub Mini to round out the sound in your room. The Sub Mini is wireless (aside from a power cord), so it connects seamlessly to your current system through the Sonos app. This subwoofer is $429 at Sonos and Target.
Best for Big Home Theaters
A soundbar can make all the difference in a home theater, and they cost a lot less than a full surround-sound setup. And if you’re looking for one that’s really powerful, the Sonos Arc (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is the way to go. It has full Dolby Atmos support, and in many rooms, it can bounce sound off your walls and ceiling well enough that it sounds like you have a surround setup.
With three tweeters and eight mid-woofers, it delivers deep bass and has more balance and depth than the Beam. It’s also a lot longer, stretching 45 inches, or about the width of a 55-inch TV. Its design is elegant and understated in the usual Sonos way—you won’t always notice the bar, but when you do, it’s not an eyesore at all.
There is a lot to think about when shopping for or using a carpet cleaner, such as how much space you’ll need for storage and whether you should rent or buy. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Carpet cleaners are heavy and bulky, especially when filled with water. They can be harder to maneuver than regular upright vacuums. They will also need quite a bit of storage space.
Tackle stain-causing spills immediately. Most households only need to wash carpets once every six months to a year, but spot cleaners are ideal for treating immediate spills, plus they’re easier to store and use.
You likely won’t use a carpet cleaner often, so it’s OK to consider hiring professionals to do your whole home, especially if you have limited storage space. (It also can depend on how dirty and stained your carpets are.) Look at options for renting a machine from local businesses or retail stores like Home Depot. You’ll be able to get the benefits of a commercial-grade cleaner without paying a fortune.
Clean your carpet before you use a carpet cleaner. This may seem counterintuitive, but you don’t want dirt and hair to form wet clumps that block the cleaner. And if you haven’t washed your carpets in a while (or ever), be prepared for an embarrassing amount of hairy clogs to fill the dirty water tank.
The carpet shampoo or detergent you use is important. Manufacturers often insist you use their brand, and while other types may work fine, you might void your warranty (although I have no idea how they’d know). Most carpet cleaners come with some detergent, but I had a good experience with Rug Doctor’s Commercial Carpet Cleaner ($20). It works well and does not have a strong scent, and you can buy a large jug for cheap.
Try, try, and try again. It can be disappointing to fire up a carpet cleaner and find that it’s incapable of removing that old red wine stain or ground-in toothpaste. Don’t lose heart. Multiple cleaning sessions can sometimes chip away at established stains, and at least reduce, if not remove, them.
Drying your carpets can take a long time. Most carpet cleaners have different settings, and they will suck up some of the water, but they all leave carpets a bit damp. The deeper cleans tend to leave carpets wet, so think about how you might speed drying time. Use fans, fire up the heating, or do your carpet cleaning in the spring and summer months when you can leave windows open.
Protect your hearing. Of all the ways you can damage your hearing, a carpet cleaner is perhaps the least fun, so protect your ears. Some of these get very loud, so wear earplugs while you work.
Wired Vs. Battery Powered: Smart doorbells require more power than traditional doorbells. You may need a new transformer, and you will likely want to hire an electrician for safe installation. The main advantages of wired doorbells are that you shouldn’t need to touch them again after installation, and they will ring your existing doorbell chime. Wired doorbells are usually a bit cheaper and slimmer than models with batteries, too.
Battery-powered smart doorbells are easy to install yourself and can be mounted wherever you like. The main downside is that you must remove and charge the battery every few months, which means some downtime unless you buy a spare battery to switch in. Remember also that your regular doorbell chime won’t work with a battery-powered smart doorbell, so you will probably need to buy a wireless chime device to plug in somewhere in your home, though you can also configure smart speakers to act as doorbell chimes.
Most battery-powered video doorbells can also be wired, which may be the best solution if you have concerns about power outages.
Resolution and HDR: The higher the resolution, the clearer the picture you get, but consider that higher resolution video also requires more bandwidth to stream and takes up more storage space. If your front porch is in direct sunlight or strong shade, we strongly recommend opting for a video doorbell with HDR support as it helps to prevent bright areas from appearing blown out or shadowy areas from being too dark to see.
Field of View and Aspect Ratio: If you want a head-to-toe view of the person at your front door, then think about the field of view and aspect ratio offered by your prospective pick. A wider field of view will take more in but can cause a fish eye effect. Rather than a traditional landscape aspect ratio, you may prefer a square or portrait view to ensure you can see a visitor’s face and any packages that might be on your porch.
Local or Cloud Storage: If you don’t want to sign up for a subscription service and upload video clips to the cloud, ensure your chosen doorbell offers local storage. Some video doorbells have MicroSD card slots, while others record video to a hub device inside your home. You can expect to pay somewhere around $3 to $6 per month for 30 days of storage for a video doorbell.
Advanced Features: Many video doorbells offer features like package detection and person recognition. These features can be handy for filtering alerts, so you only get useful notifications. Bear in mind that you may need a subscription to gain access to advanced features.
Choosing a Brand: If you already have a security camera system or plan on getting one, it makes a lot of sense to stick with the same brand for your doorbell. That way, you can access everything in the same app and get a single subscription if required. If you have a smart home setup, check that the doorbell is compatible with your preferred ecosystem and voice assistant.
Security: A couple of things we recommend looking for are two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that someone with your username and password cannot log into your doorbell and encryption to ensure anyone accessing the manufacturer’s servers cannot see your Wi-Fi login details or watch uploaded videos.
Here is a proposition: Rather than delight your kid once or twice a year with a big, expensive present that will eventually get put aside, why not surprise them with a small, delightful package once a month? I have two kids, a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, and they love it when something arrives in the mail that aren’t bills, replacement chargers from Amazon, or Garnet Hill catalogs.
A more or less ongoing supply chain crisis may still make traditional holiday shopping challenging (or expensive). Subscription boxes can be useful supplements for remote learning and come in handy if you can’t send your sniffly kid back to daycare or to a big indoor birthday party. As a bonus, they’re usually affordable! I tested some of the subscriptions on this list, and I bought others for my kids and their friends. These became our favorites.
Be sure to check out all of our other buying guides for kids, including the Best STEM toys, Best Kids’ Headphones, Best Tablets for Kids, and Best Tech Gifts for Kids.
Updated October 2022: We’ve added new items, like the Keke Bag and Lovevery.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a1-year subscription toWIREDfor $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED
Many years ago, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 gained notoriety when its batteries caught fire in a series of incidents. There’s been a steady stream of similar, though isolated, incidents ever since. However, despite the high-profile coverage of batteries gone wrong, the vast majority of Li-ion batteries are safe.
The chemical reaction that occurs inside a lithium-ion cell is complex, but as in any battery, there’s a negative and a positive electrode. In lithium batteries, the negative is a lithium-carbon compound, and the positive is cobalt oxide (though many battery makers are moving away from cobalt). These two compounds cause a reaction that is safe when controlled and delivers energy to your devices. When the reaction gets out of control though, you end up with earbuds melting in your ears. What changes a safe reaction to an uncontrolled reaction can be any number of things: excess heat, physical damage during use, physical damage during manufacture, or using the wrong charger.
The three basic rules that have kept me safe (thus far) through testing dozens and dozens of batteries are:
Avoid cheap cords, chargers, and outlet adapters.
Make sure batteries aren’t exposed to excessive heat (over 110 degrees).
Regularly inspect batteries for signs of damage.
Avoiding cheap wall-outlet adapters, cords, and chargers is the most important. These are your most likely source of problems. Those chargers you see on Amazon for $20 cheaper than the competition? Not worth it. They probably got the price down by skimping on insulation, leaving out power-management tools, and ignoring the basics of electrical safety. Price alone is no guarantee of safety, either. Buy from reputable companies and brands.
Then there’s heat. Too much of it can cause all manner of problems, both in terms of discharge and in terms of safety. Avoid heat, and pay attention to your batteries when they’re charging. If your device gets overly hot when charging, this can be a sign of problems. Similarly, beware of any swollen, bulging, or otherwise misshapen batteries.