The CE Week line shows are over, the exhibitors have packed in their gear, and we’re left wondering how to make sense of all the gadgety goodness on display. The shift from wired connections (specifically iPhone/iPod docking speakers) to Bluetooth is now totally underway, with a number of exhibitors showing off new and updated portable speakers. Here are the best of the best Bluetooth speakers AppleTell found on the show floor.
Soen Audio is a newcomer, but their Transit speaker was the brainchild of talented designers from Harmon/Kardan and JBL (some members of the Soen team were involved with the design for our much-loved H/K Soundsticks). This speaker delivers a larger than life punch, yet wraps up into a svelte package that not only looks but feels like an Apple-designed product. The Transit had a sound massive enough to echo in the large convention hall without distortion, and features a bass port that minimizes vibration; so, not only do you get clean bass, but your speaker doesn’t shimmy along the table when you’re having a dance party (meaning you’re free to boogie away).
This company could easily be called Outrageous Tech for their standout designs and scandalous marketing (ads include “Touch your Privates,” detailing the touch-sensitive control panel on the company’s Privates Bluetooth headphones). Rather than searching for tiny buttons on the side of your ear, you can just swipe up/down and left/right to control volume and tracks!
The company’s boldly designed Bluetooth speakers were also on display, looking like nothing so much as a spiny Koopa shell. The Turtle Shell offers up portable sound with an outdoors-resistant design, while its larger sibling, the Armadillo (new this year), offers a much bigger sound with the same rugged and geodesic design flair. Large enough to pump out sound to fill your patio party, you can daisy chain two for even bigger sound and charge your iDevice via the included USB-out port. Less portable and more luggable, the Armadillo is the 21st century boom box, only one you don’t have to worry about leaving out in the rain.
iLuv had two speaker docks on display, the alarm-clock themed Time Shaker and the Aud 5, which offered up a pretty standard speaker dock/alarm clock experience. Both devices feature a key innovation that caught our eye, however; the Lightning adapter swivels several degrees. Why is this important? It makes the process of accommodating an iPhone in a case (or even an iPad Mini) much easier. A fixed dock has a specific angle that may not accommodate an encased iPhone, but the swiveling docks can pivot to give you enough room, meaning a less cumbersome charging process. Of course, if your device still won’t fit, both docks offer Bluetooth streaming and USB out, so you can still charge/groove as needed.