Mini Boom by Ultimate Ears Category: Portable Bluetooth Speakers Works With: iOS, Mac, Any sound source Price: $99.99 per speaker
Imagine my utter joy when I received Ultimate Ears’ latest entry into the portable speaker market, the UE MiniBoom, and found them to be even tinier and equally rugged and easy to use. Oh, and they sound fantastic, too.
Time to come clean: I play guitar and sing in a disco band. I know, I know, the backlash against that kind of music has been going on since 1977. Trust me, I know.
But the way people respond to this still-valid, we-use-real-instruments form of music is so much better than the way they used to when I played guitar in modern or classic rock bands. In those days, the most reaction I’d see in an audience was a foot tap, or maybe–if I was lucky–a head bob or two. Happy, gorgeous people dancing their butts off? So much more fun.
iKlip 2 by IK Multimedia Category: iPad Cases & Accessories Works With: iPad 2, 3, 4 Price: $39.99
Now, playing in a cover band requires knowing a lot of music, like the chords for the 50 plus songs that we play. As I also take on half the lead singing duties, so I’m required to know the lyrics as well. I don’t do this for a living; I do it for fun and some beer and gear money. I don’t have tons of time to memorize all those songs, let alone the new ones we learn every few months. So I use lyric sheets. I used to use them on paper, but boy is that annoyingly old school and easily lost.
Now I use my iPad (and an amazing app called GigBook) to organize and keep track of my lyric sheets. And I also use the incomparable iKlip 2 iPad holder to attach that iPad to the microphone stand right in front of me.
NeatConnect by Neat Category: Scanners Works With:Anything with Wi-Fi Price: $500
I’ve been using Neat products for the past couple of years. I’ve got a NeatDesk for Mac and an active NeatCloud account. So when the folks at Neat reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in putting the company’s latest piece of hardware – NeatConnect – through the paces, I jumped at the chance.
When I received the UE Boom in the mail and opened the mailing box, I thought maybe the PR rep had secretly slipped me a bottle of Scotch. Not that I would have minded, of course.
UE Boom by Ultimate Ears/Logitech Category: Bluetooth Speaker Works With: Any Bluetooth Audio Source Price: $199.99
It turns out that this ruggedized little portable Bluetooth speaker by Logitech-owned Ultimate Ears (UE) comes in some slick packaging that I’m loathe to get rid of, it’s that cool. The cylindrical speaker fits snugly in the center portion of the box, and each side has a cute little compartment where the bright yellow power plug and flat premium micro USB cable fit in, each with its respective symbol printed on a little flag. It’s striking packaging, which should go over well with consumers.
Luckily, the actual speaker here, a smallish cylinder made to be set on end vertically as well as on its side horizontally, is a fantastic sounding Bluetooth speaker, with a full, clear tonal spectrum that’s surprising in something so small. The bass response could be a bit punchier, but I don’t find that to be an issue at all, and actually prefer the more balanced tonal approach.
There’s an argument in the platform wars, and also on Wall Street, that goes something like this: “Apple doesn’t innovate anymore. It moves too slowly, and is being taken over by more nimble, more innovative rivals.”
Any success Apple has is the result of slick marketing, rather than the newest technology. But now, Apple is a laggard and is being overtaken by more nimble companies.