B&O's Beosound A1 is a Bluetooth speaker with hands-free Alexa

Bang & Olufsen has updated its Bluetooth portable speaker, boosting battery life and adding Alexa support to the new Beosound A1 2nd Gen. An update to the old Beoplay A1, the puck-shaped speaker now allows you to chat with Amazon's virtual assistant, albeit assuming your smartphone is nearby.

Compared to the old A1, the new Beosound A1 is both lighter and slimmer. There's still leather strap and the option of black or grey finishes that mix aluminum and a polymer plastic. However what's inside has changed considerably.

For a start, there's a new 3.5-inch woofer, which B&O paired with a 0.75-inch dome tweeter. Two 30 watt amplifiers with DSP filtering and apt-X support keep those working. Battery life is 18 hours at what B&O says is a "typical" volume of around 70dB, though if you lower it down to more like 55dB you can extend that to 48 hours or thereabouts. It charges up via a USB-C port, with a full charge taking around 2.75 hours.

For Alexa, there's a triple microphone array, and an LED indicator on top to show when the assistant is listening. That means you don't have to press a button to trigger Amazon's assistant. However since the Beosound A1 doesn't have an integrated WiFi or LTE connection of its own, it's dependent on your phone to get online and pass Alexa's commands to the cloud.

The microphone's range is approximately 16 feet, and even after you stop listening to music the mics will keep listening out for your Alexa wake word for three hours. You can use that by the pool or in the bathroom, too, as the Beosound A1 is IP67 water and dust rated. That means you can dunk it in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes without worry.

Even if you're not an Alexa fan, the new Beosound A1 might be worth considering as a speakerphone. Bluetooth 5.1 and those three microphones make for better call quality, B&O promises. There are dedicated music playback controls running around the sides of the speaker, as well as a button to mute the microphones. You can also hit a button to trigger the assistant on your smartphone – for example Siri on your iPhone, or the Google Assistant on your Android device – rather than use Alexa.

Bluetooth multipoint is available to support simultaneous connection with two devices, and you can also link two Beosound A1 2nd Gen together and have them work as a stereo pair. In the Bang & Olufsen app – which you'll need to configure your Amazon account in order to get Alexa to work – there are five customizable EQ presets.

The B&O Beosound A1 2nd Gen is available to order now, priced at the same $250 as its predecessor.