Amazon removes invitation requirement to purchase Echo
Amazon has finally made its Echo network-connected speaker available for purchase by anyone, seven months after the company initially launched the device. Previously only sold to Amazon Prime subscribers and on an invitation-only basis, the Echo can now be bought by all customers in the United States without requiring an invitation, with the retailer expecting to start shipments of the device on July 14.
Vintage style speakers look great, fall short on audio quality
Let me paint an all-too-familiar scenario: You've got a stereo system that still works perfectly fine, but through a series of unfortunate events, you're stuck with speakers that don't work. Or maybe you just bought a brand new computer that lacks speakers at all, and you want to listen to Pandora while you surf the web without cutting off the outside world. Maybe the speakers of your favorite record player just don't do your albums justice. Whatever the reason, you're looking for new speakers ASAP. Allow us to introduce to you the Samson Meteor M2 Multimedia Speaker System, a retro-inspired speaker set designed to alleviate such problems.
UE Roll offers 360-degree sound, waterproofing in pocket-size design
Ultimate Ears is adding another resilient speaker to its range, this time in a form that is much easier to carry around. While its stablemates, the UE Boom and UE Megaboom, all offer high-quality sound in a water-resistant cylindrical shape, the UE Roll takes a different approach, shrinking down the design to a UFO-shaped disc measuring 135mmx40mm (5.3 inches by 1.6 inches) and weighing 330 grams (11.6 ounces), complete with the signature oversized plus and minus controls on the top surface.
Loud and light portable Bluetooth speaker
When we looked at the Kitsound Pocket Hive speaker, we said it was loud and clear. This larger Kitsound Bomber 2 speaker from the same company is louder and clearer -- and it comes with a carrying case.
Boutique streamer identical to Sonos Play:1, boasts custom paint job
In order to "commemorate 75 years and counting of Blue Note Records," speaker company Sonos has debuted the Sonos Play:1 Blue Note Limited Edition wireless streaming speaker. The speaker, identical to the original Sonos Play:1, will be available online only in limited quantities, and for a short time.
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.
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.
Echo speaker answers questions, plays music on command via voice recognition
Amazon has quietly launched a network-connected speaker with voice recognition. The Echo is a tall cylindrical speaker unit which can be used for music playback, but it also includes a seven-microphone array at the top for listening to voice commands, allowing users to give the device instructions to play music, ask questions, and set appointments.
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.
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.
Cambridge Audio announces G2 Bluetooth wireless speaker
British audio company Cambridge Audio has announced the upcoming release of its ultra-compact Bluetooth speaker, the G2. Comprised of a four speaker array, the G2 can run for up to ten hours on a charge. The speaker features Bluetooth connectivity as well as Near-Field Communication (NFC), which supports one-touch pairing, and can remember eight different devices. Its solid aluminium body includes soft touch controls, and is available in black or champagne finish options. Priced at $175, the G2 can be ordered in October.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Life N Soul releases new Bluetooth 8-driver headphones, stereo speaker
Audio device producer Life N Soul has announced its new BE501 8 Driver Bluetooth headphones, and the BM211 Virtual Surround Bluetooth Speaker. The company's Bluetooth headphones feature Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and can pair with two different devices with a range of up to 30 feet. Offering built-in lossless transmission technology and dynamic surround sound, the BE501's frequency response ranges from 5Hz to 25kHz. Each ear piece bears 1pc woofer and 3pc drivers, with a total of 8 neodymium dynamic audio drivers. The headphones can hold a charge for 28 hours of play time, and 1300 hours of standby time.
Small speaker offers pleasing sounds with additional bar mounting options
Adding a new option of portability to a Bluetooth speaker is no easy task. While many speakers are made for people on the go, they are meant to be packed away while people move about. Instead of being able to listen to them while traveling, they are left in a bag or backpack unutilized. Nyne is looking to change that with its Cruiser speaker. The Cruiser includes a set of clips to hold the speaker in place while out walking with a baby in a stroller or on the handlebars of a bike. But would the speaker still be functional and worth using for people on the go? Find out in our review.
New tablet briefcase bag by Hex now available
Tech accessories company Hex has announced the availability of its new briefcase bag, the Marquee Briefcase. Featuring a new structural design with tablet and accessory pockets, the bag includes an internal suspension pocket for up to a 15-inch laptop, internal organizer and tablet storage, on top of a main compartment. Composed of black leather with aged tan leather accents, its shoulder strap is fatigue-green, and the bag's lining is offered in a custom camouflage pattern. Priced at $280, the Marquee Briefcase can be purchased through Hex's online store.
Monitor features full HD IPS display, seven-watt Onkyo sound technology speakers
A new monitor has been announced from AOC that brings stereo quality sound together with a full HD display. The latest display from the Taiwanese company, the i2473Pwm, offers a 24-inch monitor with a unique base that houses two speakers inside giving consumers more options to help save desktop space.
Speaker charges on conductive base that houses 1800 mAh, allows device charging
Bem Wireless has announced the availability of its newest compact Bluetooth speaker, the Speaker Mojo. The 2.5-inch cube speaker from Bem builds on the previous generation of its mobile speaker, offering a bonus to its battery design. Instead of charging the speaker directly, it sits on a a base that houses a battery that doubles as a power bank for any devices that may need to be charged on-the-go.
Charming, surprising, intriguing finds now available or coming to market soon
Continuing our look at some of the more interesting devices and services we ran across at Macworld in San Francisco last month, MacNN and Electronista staffers will periodically write about items and vendors that caught our eye at the show that we thought our readers would like to know about, particularly as they start accepting pre-orders. This week, we check out the Hidden Bluetooth portable speaker, and the new Prong PWR case for the iPhone 5 and 5s.
Dropbox debuts Carousel app for iOS and Android
Cloud storage company Dropbox has released its latest product, Carousel, a photo and video gallery app. Available for both iOS and Android platforms, Carousel provides a single location for users' photo and video content in an organized manner. The app automatically backs up photos and videos to the user's Dropbox account as they are captured, ensuring they are safe from being lost in a device crash. Users can engage in private conversations with friends, as to share their media with others. The number of photos and videos one can put in their Carousel is based on how much space they have attached to their Dropbox account, with the free storage size starting at 2GB. Carousel is free to download through iTunes and Google Play, and requires a Dropbox account to utilize its features.
Nokia MD-12 uses hard surfaces for bass boosting
Despite the unveiling of the Lumia 930, Lumia 630, and Lumia 635 Windows 8.1 smartphones at Microsoft Build, Nokia still had something new to reveal for itself at its scheduled "more" event. The Nokia MD-12 is a portable mini speaker that connects to smartphones via Bluetooth with NFC pairing, which is able to use "acoustic bonding" with whatever surface it is resting on to provide a more powerful sound.
Square notifying users of upcoming card reader replacement
Square, a mobile payment service, has begun to notify its existing customers that they can receive the latest Square reader for free. The redesigned Square card reader is 45 percent thinner than the original, and will be replacing the previous model as the standard device, with the former to be no longer supported. Users can receive their new Square reader for free by signing into their web dashboard.
Comcast subscribers can soon purchase access to Netflix produced House of Cards
Comcast subscribers will soon be able to purchase access to the episodic series House of Cards without requiring Netflix, according to a report by Variety. The cable company has struck a pact with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, providing rights to sell the first season of House of Cards through its Xfinity Store service. The Xfinity store offers on-demand video streaming on a variety of devices for Comcast subscribers -- the company's own answer to Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. In a similar deal made with Lionsgate, Orange is the New Black will be available on the Xfinity Store in May.
Wireless speaker uses induction rather than pairing
FAVI Entertainment has released a new speaker for smart phones and tablets that allows wireless connection to a device without the hassle of pairing. The Audio+ Set to Connect speaker merely requires the device to be placed on the docking space in order to connect to the speaker via induction. No fiddling with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is required.
Divoom Voombox Outdoor Bluetooth speaker offers portability, water resistance
Divoom will be releasing its portable outdoor Bluetooth speaker tomorrow, the Voombox Outdoor. Offering 12 hours of play and talk time on 15 watts of power, the Voombox can withstand splashed water and dust. Users can wirelessly stream audio from tablets, smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, and make or receive calls wirelessly.
Braven releases BRV-Bank rugged smartphone battery, BRV-X HD wireless speaker
Braven on Tuesday revealed its latest product releases: the BRV-Bank portable backup battery, and the BRV-X outdoor speaker. Both products are intended to be rugged, with both products holding an IP water-resistant rating. The Braven BRV-X is equipped with custom-made HD drivers, an omnidirectional passive bass radiator, and setting for indoor and outdoor locations. Its noise-cancelling speakerphone, USB charging capability and integrated power bank allow for versatile function, and easy pairing with NFC offers users true left and right stereo sound with a second BRV-X.
Divoom OnBeat-200 speaker
Last, but certainly not least in Electronista's countdown to the new year giveaway is the Divoom OnBeat-200 portable Bluetooth speaker. This sleek, fashionable durable speaker bumps the tunes and has a built-in microphone to take calls with the push of a button.
Pebble releases iOS 7 app update with greater notification support
Pebble has updated the iOS version of its smart watch app, one which introduces support for iOS 7 notifications. The update, which allows for updates from a host of watched services to be pushed to the Pebble display, also introduces support for Bluetooth LE, which will lower the amount of power used by the smartphone and the Pebble when communicating.
Larger version of Pill portable speaker gets tested at FCC
A new speaker from Beats has been spotted going through certification at the FCC, one that appears to be a more stationary model. The filing for the Beats Pill XL reveals a larger version of the company's portable speaker, suggesting that the company may be celebrating its break-up from HTC by preparing to sell an upscaled model in the near future.
Livesurface's Context introduces photorealistic previewing into Adobe Illustrator
Livesurface, a design development company, has launched its full version of Context. The program is an integrative app that allows users of Adobe Illustrator to display projects on a wide variety of real-world objects and scenes. While working, users can preview designs in Context without leaving Illustrator, and see 3D renderings to help better predict a finished, implemented product. Featuring photorealistic 'inks' for adding printing effects to a project, surfaces to select for previewing, and access to direct tools that allow for quick visual implementations, Context can create professional, high-resolution output renderings. Context can be downloaded as a free test version for access to low-resolution surfaces, and as a $10 monthly subscription or $90 annual subscription, providing full access to high-resolution content. Software requirements include Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, and Adobe Illustrator CS4 through CC.
Wireless speaker joins Sonos Play range, free Bridge available
Sonos has added to its Play range of wireless home speakers, which currently consists of the Play:3 and the Play:5, with the Play:1. At the same time as launching the compact speaker, one that briefly appeared on sale late last week, Sonos has released a software update that adds some minor changes to the way the speakers function.
Wireless speaker fits in car cupholder
Accessory maker iCreation's Siri and S Voice-enabled Bluetooth wireless speaker, SpeeCup, was launched yesterday. At eight inches tall, the speaker is intended to fit in a car's cupholder, as well as be conducive for listening in various other settings, such as a boat, RV, or at a desk. SpeeCup's range is standard for Bluetooth speakers -- up to 30 feet -- and its battery capacity can last up to 20 hours. Compatible with most Bluetooth-enabled devices, the SpeeCup is sold online in three colors (black, white and red) for $130.
Sony rolls out new, water resistant, Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
Sony has started shipping its new Splash-Proof Bluetooth Wireless Speaker (SRS-BTS50). As with a number of its 2013 consumer electronics products, the new speaker is both water resistant and includes NFC for fast one-touch connectivity over Bluetooth. Users can also quickly disconnect with another touch of the paired device's NFC logos when they are ready to get going.
Neutrino Thunder D3 expected for release by end of September
Akitio announced its upcoming release of its latest external storage product, the Neutrino Thunder D3. With Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports, the Thunder D3 is set to be available by the end of September. The two-bay unit is designed to hold 2.5-inch hard drives or SSDs with a drive height of up to 15mm, enabling greater versatility than other form factor enclosures. The Thunder D3 will be available in capacities up to 4TB, and upon release can be purchased online from Akitio, Amazon and retail outlets, though pricing has not yet been announced. For reference, however, the similar Thunder Duo enclosure starts at $300 with no drives.
Speakers compatible with Siri and Voice Commands
Ematic released yesterday its ESB100 Speaker, its first Bluetooth speaker product. The speaker -- comparable to a softball in size -- offers 30 feet of wireless range, as well as a line-in feature to listen directly from a non-Bluetooth device. With 35 hours of playtime per charge, the ESB100's battery is recharged with the included microUSB cable and wall charger. Including customizable foam speaker grills in blue and black, consumers can purchase Ematic's ESB100 for $40 at Wal-Mart.
Edifier's MP260 Extreme Connect fully portable and Bluetooth compatible
Edifier's MP260 Extreme Connect portable speaker was released today, offering audio playback from any Bluetooth enabled device. Fully portable, the Extreme Connect is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use with a battery charge lasting up to 12 hours. The speaker includes a built-in microphone with Bluetooth phone answering capabilities, allowing for hands-free calling.
Long battery, 360-degree sound encourages music gatherings
Audio accessory maker Ultimate Ears has announced a new wireless Bluetooth portable speaker, the UE Boom. Available in six colors, the mini-speaker is intended to be portable and offers 360-degree sound from all sides of the easy-grip device. The device features an acoustic skin to be water and stain resistant, a long and rechargeable battery life (up to 15 hours) and is easily paired with other UE Boom units.
Win a bem wireless Bluetooth speaker.
Through modern history, portable audio devices have gone through many evolutionary phases -- from boom boxes and Walkman cassette tape players to CD and MP3 players. Now listening to music on the go consists of carrying around a smartphone and headphones, or a Bluetooth speaker. However, some Bluetooth speakers are too large to easily fit in a bag with other items. The Bēm Wireless mobile speaker was designed to fit where others wouldn't, and MacNN has one to give away to our readers.
Creative set to roll out T3150 Bluetooth speakers, due May
Creative has announced the T3150 Bluetooth speakers. The new speakers work over wired connections, but will pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device including smartphones, tablets and PCs over a range of up to 10 meters. Using a 2.1 arrangement, the speakers include two satellite speakers and a subwoofer.
Single-speaker base expanable as users' need grow
Today at CES 2013, Pure announced the Jongo family of products -- affordable multiroom audio products that allows the user to start with a single speaker and add more Jongo products for perfectly synchronized audio all around a home. Using Wi-Fi along with the free Pure Connect app, users also get the additional benefit of listening to multiple, tightly synchronised Jongo products in a single room or in a multi-room environment.
Speakers use 30-pin connector, Bluetooth
Speaker manufacturer Edifier has released two speaker docks for iOS and other handhelds. Using the old 30-pin connector found in older iOS devices instead of the Lightning port, the Esiena and Bric both still allow for connectivity to the iPhone 5 and other handsets wirelessly over Bluetooth, or through a 3.5mm auxiliary input port.
UK retail leaks price and imminent release date
Sightings of a Beats-branded Bluetooth wireless speaker have been reported at both the FCC and a UK retailer. The Beats by Dr. Dre Pill has passed through the FCC, with mention of its Bluetooth capabilities, while the online store for HMV put up a listing for the speaker, before quickly removing it from existence.
Cube replaces digital to audio converter on music player with its own
NuForce has released its Cube mobile speaker. The compact cube offers to play sound as a conventional speaker, serve as a headphone amplifier to boost volume, or work as a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC), bypassing a computer or music player's own on-board DAC in favor of components that are claimed to be of higher quality.
Subwoofer interacts wireless system
Sonos has introduced the Sub, a wireless subwoofer designed to work alongside the company's amplified systems with wireless support. The resin cabinet integrates a pair of acoustic ports and speaker cones, each facing inward in a configuration that is claimed to eliminate buzz or rattle, while dual Class D amplifiers provides the power.
Company is celebrating 10 years in business
Accessory maker XtremeMac, showing at CES on the occasion of its 10th anniversary in the market, has taken the wraps off two new products today -- a lightweight, portable Bluetooth stereo speaker that also features a line-in jack for other music players, and a line of multi-device iOS charging docks that rely on the slim design of iOS products and which offer a full 10 watts in each port, with one model offering up to five charging slots.
Will formally launch at CES, optional mirror
Those who like to sing in the shower or just enjoy some music near the pool or beach can do so without fear of getting their expensive iOS or Android device wet with iDevices' introduction of the iShower, a long range (up to 200 feet) Bluetooth speaker that is water-resistant, can be paired with up to five different devices and offers up to 15 hours of safe listening. The company, best known for its iGrill cooking hardware, will debut the iShower at CES.