Plano, Texas — BenQ will expand into audio for the first time when it launches the industry’s first Bluetooth speaker with electrostatic speaker panels.
The company expects to offer other audio products in the future with its power-efficient electrostatic technology but declined to specify the types of products or availability dates.
The Taiwan-based company is best known in North America for its commercial and residential video projectors and gaming monitors targeted to high-end performance niches. It also offers digital signage.
The premium Bluetooth speaker is the portable $299-everyday eVolo, which features two fold-out electrostatic panels that deliver midrange clarity and detail for vocals and acoustic instruments, said Robert Wudeck, strategy and business development associate VP for BenQ America. The panels are complemented by two passive and two active low-bass cone drivers that he said deliver “tight, precise bass.” The speaker, about the size of a hardcover book, differentiates itself from Bluetooth speakers that concentrate on reproducing deep bass at the expense of higher frequencies, he said, noting that many modern songs include a lot of high-frequency energy.
The aluminum-chassis speaker will “establish a sound unique to our brand” and be “compelling to the music lover,” he said. Because the fold-out electrostatic panels radiate sound from front and back, they deliver a mix of direct and reflected sound as experienced in live performances, he noted.
“Our strategy has always been to solve a particular problem well, not outprice the other guy,” he said.
The speaker, due in black or silver, also differentiates itself from most other Bluetooth speakers by incorporating a USB audio input to play music from a USB-connected computer. The speaker also streams AptX over Bluetooth and comes with analog input and analog output, which streams Bluetooth music to a more powerful home audio system.
The electrostatic panels feature front and back aluminum grilles protecting a graphite-coated polyester film made by the BenQ Group’s contact-lens manufacturing company. The film is made from a special power-efficient material unlike the film used in traditional electrostatic home speakers, which must be plugged into a power outlet to generate the voltages needed to move electrostatic panels, he said.
The speaker is designed for small- to medium-size rooms and delivers SPLs up to 90dB. The rechargeable lithium battery lasts for 12 hours of music playback and normal volume levels. It also comes with hands-free speakerphone and uses DSP to implement crossover and equalization functions.
The speaker measures about 6 inches by 7 inches by 2.5 inches with panels closed.
BenQ plans a focused launch on Nov. 21 through Amazon and the BenQ online store, and then the company will go to International CES with POP to roll the speaker out to other retailers.
The speaker “will be the first of many audio products” from BenQ, Wudeck said. “We can take the technology to many areas.”
In other parts of the world, BenQ also makes and markets smartphones, tablets, digital cameras and TVs.