Verizon teams up with B&O on pricey Android TV soundbars for cord-cutters

Verizon already sells accessories like phone cases and chargers, but in addition to electronics like digital picture frames and tablets, there are also… soundbars. Verizon announced today that it’s releasing two new soundbars with a built-in Verizon Stream TV streaming box. The $399.99 Stream TV Soundbar and $999.99 Stream TV Soundbar Pro are both built by Bang & Olufsen, with the Pro model sporting a similar housing to the even more expensive Beosound Stage, but with nine drivers inside instead of 11.

The concept of a soundbar with streaming hardware hidden inside is nothing new, as Roku, JBL, and others have some options to reduce the clutter in your entertainment center.

Since Verizon’s Stream TV system is a skinned Android TV that includes Verizon’s services, it also touts Google Assistant and all the streaming services you can name: HBO Max, Netflix, Disney Plus, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime, and more. Verizon normally only allows TV subscribers access to the Stream TV box, but with these new soundbars, you don’t need to be a Verizon subscriber to check it out — making it pretty cord-cutter friendly (though you will need to register with Verizon to use it).

Both of the soundbars stream 4K content, output virtual Dolby Atmos sound, and support HDMI 2.1 with multiple inputs — two on the cheaper model and three on the Pro. Both also feature Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 6, and Chromecast, but the Airplay 2 support that the Beosound Stage includes is not available here.

If you choose to accept the post-cable living room that Verizon is building, then you can order the new soundbars today. Verizon also has a promotion to save 30 to 40 percent off items like these soundbars if you purchase three, four, or five eligible accessories that are more than $20.

I added both of the new Verizon soundbars (other brands were ineligible for the promotion) and three Verizon phone charging accessories and got the prices of the Stream TV soundbars down to $239.99 for the cheaper one and $599.99 for the Pro. It’s an unusual route to a home theater upgrade and still more expensive than the cheapest Atmos-compatible one-piece audio solutions. But it could be a way to add Dolby Atmos sound processing and reduce clutter in the living room while restocking on phone chargers all at once. It might also be a good deal for TV subscribers turning into cord-cutters… Verizon doesn’t seem to mind.