CES has wrapped up, but there were so many products announced we’re still digesting all the news. Harman, producers of some of the best audio gear available, announced several products that all shared a common theme: no cords. Bluetooth audio and other wireless streaming protocols are helping us ditch cables for listening to music, and Harman introduced three products to their JBL lineup and one stunningly gorgeous Harman/Kardon entrant at the show.
The S400BT—as the BT moniker would imply—is a Bluetooth-enabled set of on-ear cans. The headphone band is a durable stainless steel and features a folding hinge design to allow for easy portability. Sonically, JBL has packed in their PureBass design and utilized Bluetooth 3.0 with aptX digital encoding for high quality sound. To control the whole experience, a touch-sensitive surface covers the entire left ear cup, which lets you swipe to control your music and and take calls. That means no fumbling for tiny buttons, and the surface displays an LED light trail to follow your finger, so controlling your music feels like racing in Tron.
The S400BTare available in black or white, go for $300, and are available from JBL’s online store.
The J46BT are an in-ear set of phones with a design that can only be described as barely there. Basically nothing more than the earphone bodies themselves and a connecting cord, these headphones are designed to be lightweight—which is good, because they only thing holding them up are either the silicone sleeves or the cushioned sport sleeves in your ear canal. With Bluetooth 4.0 they’re designed for low power usage, but the battery life is still pretty slim at 2.5 hours. Likely enough for a run to the gym or listening on your daily commute, you’ll need to keep the USB charging cable handy for a quick top off.
You can find the J46BT at JBL’s online store in blue, white, or black for $100.
Headphones weren’t the only thing cutting cords at CES, and the JBL Flip speaker got an update. You can use Bluetooth to connect your audio device or the Flip 2′s built in aux jack, and then listen to your music using the Flip 2′s dual speakers and ported bass for a bigger music experience, all using the built-in battery for truly cord free convenience. The Flip 2 also features a built-in mic with both echo cancellation and noise cancellation, so your telephone calls will be crystal clear.
Available in a veritable rainbow, the Flip 2 can be had in red, blue, yellow, white, or black for $130 at JBL’s online store.
The beauty queen of the bunch, the Harman/Kardon Aura speaker demands attention and prime placement in a room. With six speakers placed in a radial pattern, it offers truly omnidirectional sound, and the built in subwoofer adds extra punch no matter where you go in the room. Integrated touch sensitive controls and the dramatic ported bass chamber design H/K first introduced with their SoundStick speaker offer a sleek, svelte visual design as well, so you won’t mind placing this speaker in a central location.
The Aura is also designed for the ultimate cord cutter – its only connection options are wireless. There’s Bluetooth for just about every device, or AirPlay for the highest quality audio from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Android and Windows computers also have the option of connecting using DLNA, but no device connects with a cord – it’s wireless or bust with this speaker.
Beauty and power don’t come cheap, so the Aura is priced at $400 from the Harman/Kardon online store.