Outdoor speakers aren’t new, but ION wants to make them a whole lot easier to install and use by cutting the cords completely on its new, solar-powered range. The ION Audio Tiki Sounds and Solar Stone Multi each pretend to be more humble garden fare – a tiki lamp and, well, a rock, respectively – but inside they have rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth for streaming.
The Tiki Sounds throws in an LED light, too, with three brightness levels. There’s an optional flicker-effect for that full tiki-torch feel, and whichever you choose they’re powered from the embedded solar panel. Alternatively, you can recharge directly with a microUSB cable.
As for the Solar Stone Multi, that doesn’t have a lamp but it does get a 50 hour rechargeable battery. That powers a 6.5-inch full-range speaker; optionally, you can use the included AC adapter to charge it up manually.
Both are IPX4 waterproof, so they’re fine being left out in the rain. They use Bluetooth for their streaming, but ION Audio throws in its ION Multi technology, too. That allows an unlimited number of speakers to be linked together, all wirelessly playing the same music at the same time. It’s not just the Tiki Sounds and Solar Stone Multi, either, with ION having indoor speakers that support the Bluetooth system too.
It feels fairly unusual at this point to see a speaker that doesn’t include some sort of smart assistant, whether that’s Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. Of course given Amazon’s recent Echo models support Bluetooth streaming, you could feasibly pair a cheap Echo Dot up with your ION Audio system and control the whole thing by voice that way.
ION Audio says the Tiki Sounds goes on sale in Q1 2018. It’ll be priced at $119 for a pair, or $69.99 individually; you’ll be able to mount it on a metal pole, with an included tabletop stand, or hung as a hanging lantern. The ION Audio Solar Stone Multi will go on sale in Q2 2018, meanwhile, priced at $129 each.