Could give Apple more pull on Bluetooth standards
The Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) has announced several appointments within its board of directors, including the promotion of Apple's Joakim Linde to secretary. Linde has been with the SIG for some time, but his new role may give him -- and Apple -- more influence over the direction of the Bluetooth standard. At Apple, he serves as a senior wireless architect.
Ion Audio introduces new Air LP digital audio converter, Bluetooth turntable
Ion Audio has announced its new Air LP Bluetooth turntable, currently being showcased at CES this week. Capable of converting analog records into digital files on one's computer, the Air LP connects to a Mac or Windows PC with its included USB cable. The turntable streams audio wirelessly to Bluetooth-compatible speakers, and includes "EZ Vinyl and Tape Converter" software for the audio conversion via USB.
Altec Lansing introduces new speakers for all-weather conditions, 360 degree sound
Two new speakers have been announced today at CES by Altec Lansing, both featuring Bluetooth connectivity. The all-weather Boomjacket offers twice the battery life of Lifejacket, its predecessor, and is capable of playing audio for up to 40 hours on a single charge. Offering durability to resist the effects of rain, dirt, and shock, its dual two-inch neodymium drivers, passive radiator design and aptX wireless audio aim to produce a powerful sound in a range of settings. Priced at $200, the Boomjacket will be accompanied by a carrying pouch, USB charging, a 3.5mm aux-in jack and power supply cables.
Audio-enabled, insulated storage container launches Monday at CES
Portable audio system and food storage container Kube launched Monday at CES in Las Vegas. Designed for outdoor and indoor usage, the Kube offers a Bluetooth range of 50 feet for pairing with a Bluetooth-enabled device, and can deliver sound for up to 20 hours. Its exterior is comprised of aluminum and coated polymer, with five back-lit tactile buttons for controlling audio. Kube additionally includes the ability for charging USB devices with an available port, and its interior insulated food storage compartment features LED lights that automatically engage when the container is opened.
Panasonic offers four new models, one with Bluetooth and NFC
Four new models of headphones from Panasonic made their debut today at CES. The offerings included a foldable on-ear model, Bluetooth headphones with near-field communication (NFC), and two premium in-ear models. The Panasonic Foldz are designed to allow the ear cups to swivel around into a compact formation for storage and portability. The RP-BTD5 Bluetooth headphones include NFC connectivity that allows the user to connect them to a device by simply touching it to one of the ear cups.
Griffin adds Bluetooth connectivity to Twenty digital audio amplifier
Griffin is using CES to launch a large number of accessories for mobile devices, as well as something for audiophiles. The collection includes four items in its charging-related accessory range and two iTrip devices, along with an upgraded version of its Twenty digital audio amplifier, adding Bluetooth connectivity and a refined physical design.
New speakers waterproof, ruggedized, louder, and boasts longer battery life
Fugoo, makers of the Go Anywhere speaker line, today announced their newest product line at Las Vegas' Consumer Electronics Show. The new Fugoo XL series is larger and louder, ruggedized, and 100 percent waterproof, according to the company. Featuring Bluetooth connectivity, the new speaker has quadruple the wattage, and two new jacket styles that float.
'Adventure models' will debut at Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show next week
Last year, speaker maker Nyne unveiled its "Aqua" at CES 2014 -- a Bluetooth speaker with an IPX7 rating, which means it's considered "waterproof" (immersion for up to 30 minutes at 3.3 feet (1m) of water). This year, three new "adventure models," the Edge, the Verge, and the Rock will be available to demo at Nyne's CES booth. While these new models don't have ratings high enough to designate them as waterproof, they are still water-resistant.
Apple allows Drafts app to retain Notification Center widget
Drafts 4, a note-taking app for iOS, has received an update bringing back its Notification Center widget, which was axed by Apple earlier this month. The widget allows users quick access to simple tools for opening up the app and create a new note. Drafts v4.0.6 also includes a "New from selection" option, found within the document-creation options, as well as URL action steps now having "URL encode tag output" option. Improvements to background refresh and sync handling are also present in the update. Drafts 4 is priced at $5, and requires iOS 8.0 or later.
Flat sound, minimum clarity holds Dell's speaker back from being a good buy
For all of the high-priced, over-engineered Bluetooth speakers in the electronics market, there is still room for mass-market solutions. While consumers often compromise in battery life, design or sound, the sub-$100 market offers a wide array of choices. Computer builder Dell entered into the Bluetooth speaker market with a value model, looking to entice consumers with a long battery life and compact, minimal design. But is the Dell AD211 a good buy for consumers looking to get the most out of their money, or does it fail to meet modest expectations? Find out in our review.
Crowdfunded, wood-enclosed speaker is more eye-catching than ear-pleasing
Bluetooth speakers are cropping up all over the place in a variety of sizes and styles. One such offering is Vers' 1Q, a Bluetooth-enabled speaker with a hardwood exterior. Vers took their project to Kickstarter, promising to create an attractive, portable product that takes advantage of wood's inherent acoustic properties. Upon their successful campaign, Vers brought two 1Qs to the market, one in ash and one in walnut. But how does Vers' 1Q stack up to other Bluetooth speakers? Find out in our review.
Sound and style collide for loud, damaging results with the Blazar by Beacon Audio
Generally, when someone thinks of high-quality sound, their mind doesn't immediately go toward portable speakers. An even less likely candidate would be any Bluetooth audio device. Nevertheless, Beacon Audio undertook the noble goal of challenging consumers' skepticism. It set out to clear the name of Bluetooth speakers everywhere by creating a high-quality unit, and took the Blazar to Kickstarter because it believed in the product. Was the crowd's decision to back another stylized, compact speaker a good one, or would consumers be better going with a mainstream choice? Find out in our review.
Keypad uses Bluetooth to bring Apple-matching style to numeric entry
Most of the OS X machines Apple sells these days are laptops with the built-in keyboard that includes no number pad. The vast majority of the remainder are iMacs -- also most with an abbreviated keyboard. Despite Apple's minimalist design, users sometimes could use a dedicated numeric keypad. Accessory manufacturer Newertech has a wireless solution -- a Bluetooth Wireless Aluminum Keypad. MacNN has lived with one for a while.
Update adds new security provisions, larger Bluetooth Smart packets for transfers
This week, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced that it adopted a new version of the Bluetooth core specification. The newest Bluetooth 4.2 update comes a year after 4.1 was adopted, which laid the groundwork for better Internet of Things (IoT) functionality, less LTE interference, improved data transfers and device reconnection. However, Bluetooth 4.2 adds more user-friendly features, such as increased speed, privacy and Internet connectivity.
Sellers of unregistered Bluetooth sticks face a maximum of three years in prison or $27,000 fine
In South Korea, the Ministry of Science is stepping in to regulate the market for "selfie sticks" on a technicality. The governmental action isn't prompted by competitive markets or public complaints, but by a subset of the small sticks that use Bluetooth. It turns out that many of the sticks that utilize the wireless functionality aren't registered, and therefore haven't been submitted for testing for radio interference.
Giveaways now live at MacNN and Electronista
Over the course of the last couple of days, MacNN and Electronista have been making it rain prizes. Maybe it was the turkey going to our heads, or the lack of news stories that drove us to this madness. Perhaps we were just feeling very generous. Whatever it was, we wanted to make sure that you knew about all the great prizes we had to offer. Below you will find a list of the giveaways that are going on right now.
win a Penclick B2 Bluetooth mouse
Last, but certainly not least on our list of giveaway items today is the Penclic B2 Bluetooth mouse. This isn't your average, every day basic Bluetooth mouse, though. This mouse takes computing to the next level by harnessing the natural power and dexterity in our fingers and hands and helps to prevent Repetitive Strain Injury. Read on to learn more, and to find out how you can win.
Win a Skrillex X UE Boom Bluetooth speaker!
This next prize, we are sure, nearly anybody would be very thankful to receive. Last week, Ultimate Ears released the latest addition to their lineup, the custom-designed Skrillex Edition UE Boom. Ultimate Ears teamed up with Skrillex and asked him to create custom artwork for their award-winning Boom speaker. What they created is a speaker that combines high-end sound quality with a twist of rave-culture style.
Elecronista and MacNN's guide to gifts for the digital audiophile
Audio enthusiasts might be some of the easiest people to select gifts for during the holidays, if for nothing else than the wealth of choices available. From Bluetooth speakers, headphones, audio amplifiers and radio options, it can be overwhelming to pick something. Here at Electronista and MacNN, we'll attempt to give shoppers some directions for the music lovers in their lives, compiling some of the best audio gear for the year in our annual gift guides.
When looking for an external keyboard to use with something like the iPad, you are generally limited to two streams of products: Bluetooth keyboards designed for desktop use, and keyboard cases. While wireless desktop keyboards offer a superior typing experience when compared to keyboard cases, they suffer from a design not intended for extensive portability. Meanwhile, keyboard cases are easy to tout around, but force users to add bulk directly to their so-called "portable" device. Enter Logitech's Keys-To-Go, a small Bluetooth keyboard that offers no means of attaching itself to a mobile device, yet has been designed to throw in a bag and carry around.
Technology additions, active noise cancellation make a the BackBeat Pro a fantastic buy
Looking for a pair of headphones that can do everything a user requires is a task that can take some study. Trying to decide on in-ear, over-ear, or on-the-ear model starts at user comfort and preference, but goes much further when features are thrown into the mix. When features like noise cancellation are tossed into the equation, the cost can weigh on the practicality and sound of the unit. It doesn't always need to though, as Plantronics tries to prove with the BackBeat Pro. Would these headphones be the right fit for most consumers, or are there enough small flaws that push them into being just another headphone set with active noise cancellation (ANC)? Find out in our review.
Thin Bluetooth keyboard features touchpad, allows users to configure 15 gestures
A new Bluetooth keyboard from Rapoo is bringing some of the functionality of a notebook to wireless keyboards. The E6700 Bluetooth Touchpad Keyboard features a "touch area" on the right side of the thin keyboard, that has added functionality for gestures. The E6700 lets owners configure 15 different gestures, bringing the keyboard closer to the use seen in MacBooks and other notebooks. The "touch area" also has a glass surface, which Rapoo says makes it scratch-resistant and easier to clean.
Broadcom, TI and Marvell shipping chips needed for 'smart home' accessories
A new report says that at least two of the three Apple-approved vendors for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips that feature Apple's HomeKit embedded in the processors are now shipping the components to home appliance manufacturers. The news, confirmed by Forbes, suggests that products taking advantage of HomeKit technology should be appearing more commonly in the market over the course of the next few months. Though several HomeKit-centric products are already out, a forthcoming conference should vastly increase that number.
Punch and bass felt through the entire unit, but app, comfort hold the headphones back
Headphones have hit a point where there isn't much to differentiate one set from one another. Making a choice between Bluetooth and wired models ends up being the first decision, followed by the type of tuning or sound quality a user wants. Alpine aims to add another feature into the mix, the feel of the music. With the Alpine Headphones the audio company wanted to bring the feel of a concert home, packing technology into a set of over-the-ear headphones with an app for user control to accomplish it. But do the Alpine Headphones offer a new audio experience that is worth feeling, or would consumers be better served by something more traditional? Find out in our review.
New headphone suspended ear cup design inspired by studio microphone mounts
Two new pairs of over-the-ear headphones were announced by 808 Audio today, taking a new approach to the ear cup design. The Performer Headphones -- released in wired and Bluetooth models -- use ear cup suspension technology in an attempt to give users a better fit during long play sessions, or in professional audio applications like DJ sets.
Win a 808 Audio Hex SL Bluetooth speaker!
What is a hex? On a day like today, it could mean a magical spell or a curse. It could also simply be the prefix from the Greek word "hexa," as in a hexagon. For 808 Audio, we assume it's a little bit of both. They have a series of Bluetooth speakers called "Hex" that heavily utilize hexagonal shapes and enchant listeners with magical sounds of music as well. We have one Hex SL enchanting Bluetooth speaker to give away to our readers.
Portable speaker offers grand sound with boost technology, only lasts eight hours
There could very well be a new king of the hill for Bluetooth speakers, with Sound Blaster's recent entry into the marketplace. Bringing a heap of features for music enjoyment to a powerful speaker, the company introduced the Roar earlier this year. With the crowded market for Bluetooth speakers, is it possible that a company like Sound Blaster could release a device that topples some of the big names in audio? Find out in our review.
Bluetooth 3.0 keyboard gives tablets versatility, but typing space is cramped
The shift from typing on physical keyboards to digital versions on smartphones and tablets hasn't been an easy for many consumers. From the lack of feedback to the change in configurations, there are several obstacles that can get in the way of adapting to a new format. However, physical keyboards are available on the market to help people retain some of the familiar feel, without having to carry around a laptop. Adesso offers a Bluetooth keyboard for fit this need with the Compagno X. But is the keyboard helpful to users, or will it drive them back to using the screen-based alternatives? Find out in our review.
Estimated 500 Bluetooth beacons installed as part of city-approved trial
A marketing firm has littered New York City with marketing beacons, a report has discovered. Hidden within phone booths in Manhattan, approximately 500 of the Bluetooth beacons have been installed, with the devices able to help retailers and advertisers track the movements of smartphones owned by passers by, as well as potentially pushing marketing messages to devices.
Pyle Audio introduces its new Bluetooth blood pressure monitor
Pyle Audio has announced the introduction of its new Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor (PHBPB20). The monitor and its accompanying integrated app are designed to provide users' pulse rate and systolic and diastolic pressures. Users insert their arm into the device's sleeve, press the power button and allow the monitor to tighten and measure blood pressure. The monitor can store 99 blood pressure readings for each individual, and the large LCD display shows collected data.
Life N Soul launches KiiTag Bluetooth item finder for iOS
Life N Soul has announced the launch of its new Bluetooth item finder, the KiiTag. Utilizing Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology, the KiiTag can track and locate up to 10 items within a 200-foot range. If users travel more than 200 feet away from one of their valuables, an "out of range" alert will appear on their phone. In combination with in-app purchases, the KiiTag can perform additional tasks, including sending automatic messages of the user's location in an emergency ($5), a remote camera shutter ($4), and a two-way phone finding function ($1). Available in three colors, the KiitTag item finder is priced at $20.
Wave Field Synthesis technology delivers consistent stereo sound from one speaker
Welcome to another edition of the Crowdfunding Critic, an article series where Electronista and MacNN staff look at some interesting projects being crowdfunded through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. While we believe these devices to be appealing or useful at some level, please note that the article isn't an endorsement of the project or campaign. With any crowdfunding campaign, there are inherent risks involved. As such, we ask our readers to research the items they may be contributing to since it's an investment. In this week's edition, we take a look at The Core wireless speaker system from Mass Fidelity.
Hint earbud from Motorola actively listens for voice search prompts
Motorola revealed a new earpiece alongside its Moto G and Moto X updates, one which adds more usefulness to the standard Bluetooth headset. The Moto Hint is a compact earbud which can be used for voice searches and to interact with a paired smartphone using verbal commands, as well as for making and receiving phone calls hands-free.
Bluetooth speaker releasing this fall for $300, contains 25 watts of power
Not to be outdone by the other brands under the Harman banner, Infinity will be releasing a new portable speaker this fall. The Infinity One Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker System, which was designed in a collaboration with the rock group Linkin Park, looks to bring a new level of premium audio to the Bluetooth speaker space.
Cinema soundbar and base coming for entertainment, new portable Charge 2 speaker
This fall, three new products from JBL will be available for consumers looking to add some punch to their home theater setups without taking up much space or when listening to music on-the-go. The company announced that two new products in the Cinema line, the Cinema Base and Cinema SB350, and the Charge 2 Bluetooth speaker would be coming later in the year.
New headphones, Bluetooth speaker and wireless speaker system on sale this year
At a recent trade show, Harman Kardon made a number of announcements about the new consumer audio devices that would be hitting the market this fall. Offerings are spread across the board, with a new set of Bluetooth on-ear headphones, a professional Bluetooth speaker, and a wireless in-home audio speaker system and adapter are coming to tackle a number of customer needs.
Amplifier, headphone divisions come together create a speaker full of 'punch and drive'
Audio equipment maker Marshall, best known for its guitar amps and headphones, has announced a new consumer speaker coming this year called the Woburn. The new speaker is a joint effort between Marshall Amplification and Marshall Headphones, featuring classic Marshall styling in the unit, including gold piping, fret grille cloth and a vinyl covering.
Speaker doubles as a tablet stand, but offers weak bass, one control button
Bluetooth speakers aren't only for listening to some music at the park or on a long bus ride, but can also be built with tablets in mind. While some manufacturers craft speakers with a shape that is specifically molded to hold a tablet and offer little use otherwise, others have caught on to a better design. Life n Soul have attempted such a configuration with the BM211 Virtual Surround Sound Bluetooth speaker. Would it give consumers flexibility to have a speaker suited for tablets and everyday use, or would they be left with another single-use sound device? Find out in our review.
Company claims over-the-ear headphones have 24-hour battery life
Plantronics announced a new model of Bluetooth headphones this week with the BackBeat Pro. The over-the-ear headphones feature a long battery life, 40mm drivers, active noise-cancelling technology and "Plantronics signature audio performance and design." Not leaving noise cancelling as the only trick of the headphones, Plantronics also added a smart feature to help consumers pick up where they left off if the headphones are removed.
New line adds power, long-life battery to Bluetooth streamer mix
Speaker purveyor Cambridge Audio has revealed its new Bluetooth speaker line. Replacing the original Minx Go Bluetooth streamer, launched today are the Go and the Go Radio, with similar stylings to the predecessor. Also released is the 100-watt Bluetone 100 streaming device.
Middle-of-the-road headphones offer comfort and long battery life, but odd controls, sound
When it comes to music on the go, consumers generally have some options to consider when looking for the best experience. While Bluetooth speakers are good in a large number of situations, in some place they just aren't practical. This leaves consumers to look away from speakers and toward their counterparts for sonic deliver, Bluetooth headphones. But not all headphones are created equal, especially when the boutique market for headphones is examined. One company, Life n Soul, hopes to grab attention with its 8 Driver Bluetooth headphones. Do the headphones warrant some attention, or are they just another set in the middle of the pack? Find out in our review.
Outdoor speaker provides stereo alternative, but suffers from distorted sound
While most Bluetooth speakers are meant to be portable or desktop solutions, some are made to be used outdoors. Many of these speakers either take up a large footprint or are ruggedized, depending on the use, but other times they are simple meant for listening to a song on the porch. Of those set and forget types of speakers, what kind of features should be included to appeal to consumers? Is it huge presence and stereo sound? Or are features like weatherproofing and long battery life in high demand? The SyrenPro from iLuv attempts to include all of those features for the maximum outdoor experience. But does the SyrenPro succeed in trying to be all things to everyone? Find out in our review.
Offers good sound, low price, but speaker is held back by battery, digital signal processing
Bluetooth speakers offer a wealth of choices for consumers, with sound and price often coming down to the main factors for a purchase. Sound needs to fit the requirements of the user, from those that seek crushing bass or a balanced spectrum. Trying to find the middle ground between what consumers can afford and what sound they want can be a difficult equalibrium to reach. But can a good balance of price and sound be found in the sub-$100 market? Yes, with the $70 Logitech X300 mobile wireless speaker. But does the sound stack up to speakers more than twice the price, or are consumers taking too much of a hit to save some cash? Find out in our review.
Tablet speaker good for short range, lacks punch or clarity for everyday use
Finding a speaker purpose-built for a specific need is challenging. Even when a Bluetooth speaker can be paired with a mobile device, it doesn't mean that it's the right speaker for the job. When it comes to tablets, a speaker that can be kept to the side may not be the best purchase for something that's meant to be as portable as possible. So why not look for a device that can attach to an iPad or Android tablet, like the Adesso Xtream S3B speaker? Does the Adesso speaker provide enough of a boost to sound while retaining the original portability? Find out in our review.
Four audio devices including Bluetooth speaker and in-ear headphones start at $150
Samsung is jumping into the premium audio market in North America with four new consumer offerings for headphones and Bluetooth speakers. Samsung launched the Level line of audio products today, aiming for high quality sound, portability and style. The Level Over, On and In give consumers options based on the type of style headphone preferred, while the Box speaker allows music to be shared with others.
Powerful speaker emits great sound, but misses the mark on the finer details
In the pursuit of outstanding sound quality, Bluetooth speakers make a lot of sacrifices to offer a device that is affordable and pleasant enough to listen to compel consumers to purchase it. It's a series of compromises between the number of speakers in the platform, the battery life and the portability of the unit. Cambridge Audio, the London-based audio company, offers a compact version of its sound quality inside the Minx Go. On the surface, the Minx Go appears to check all of the boxes that a Bluetooth speaker needs to in order to be successful. But does that make it a must-have for consumers? Find out in our review.
Hospital management, smart homes, retail, enterprise use all expected to grow
A new report from ABI Research claims that the technology behind Apple's iBeacons is set to expand on a massive scale over the next five years, thanks to new applications that will make use of the "indoor GPS" abilities and personal notification services of Bluetooth LE-powered beacons. While Apple is the best-known "brand" of Bluetooth-enabled sensors with its iBeacon hardware and technology catching on, the study says Apple is unlikely to get into making the actual hardware that will generate $500 million a year by 2019.
Core unit utilizes 360-degree sound with three different jackets for style
It's rare to find a Bluetooth speaker that can cover a large array of needs. Generally, speakers are wrapped in a desktop-convenient device for a small increase in sound, or made compact enough to be carried around in lieu of headphones. But what about consumers that are looking for a rugged and waterproof speaker that can handle just about anything while pumping out 360-degree sound? Unfortunately, options were severely limited. A new speaker, the Fugoo, hit the market this year that makes good on all of those promises and then some. Check out what we think about it in our review.
Win an Inateck prize bundle
Inateck -- not to be confused with the fictional corporation "Initech" featured in the hit film Office Space -- is a computer peripherals and accessories manufacturer from Germany that has unveiled a variety of new products including MacBook sleeves, Bluetooth speakers and USB hubs. MacNN has teamed up with Inateck to give away a bundle of these items to one lucky winner, and we will also be picking two additional winners who can select a prize of their choice.
Stylish speakers feature compact design, high-end coverings, 360-degree sound
Two new Bluetooth speakers have been announced by Pioneer Electronics, focusing on ease of use and style. The XW-LF3 and XW-LF1 "Free Me" speakers feature a lightweight design with 360 degrees of sound. The Bluetooth units are small enough to be carried in a bag, but are made to stand out with their high-end look.