It was Philips that managed to beat, err, Beats to the first Lightning headphones last year, and at CES the company has taken it to the next level: announcing a new $299 pair that also offers noise cancellation.
Called the Fidelio NC1L, the battery-free headphones plug straight into iOS devices using the Lightning connector, and boast their own integrated 24-bit digital-to-analog converter rather than the one Apple builds into its devices.
Monster is looking for its cut of the Beats acquisition. Photo: Beats
Monster Inc, the company that help co-design the original Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, is suing Beats Electronics along with cofounders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine for allegedly stealing its headphone technology.
The company, known for its overpriced audio cables, filed a lawsuit this week in San Mateo California, claiming Beats and its founders screwed the it out of millions of dollars before the company was sold to Apple last year for $3 billion. According to court documents obtained by USA Today, Monster says Beats concealed its role in the designing and engineering the headphone line, as well as its part in the manufacturing, distributions and selling of the headphones.
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones sound as sexy as they look. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
It’s ludicrous but true: How headphones look can be nearly as important as how they sound. Luckily for anybody who slides a pair of Bowers & Wilkins P7s over their ears, these high-end headphones do double duty. They will bamboozle your ears as well as your eyes.
With a stylish design and sturdy construction of gleaming metal and luxurious sheepskin leather, these aren’t a pair of big, cartoon-like plastic puffballs for your head. The P7s whisper quiet refinement rather than screaming “look at me.” If Beats Electronics’ brightly colored models are like those candy-colored iMac G3s from the ’90s, the P7s are like this year’s stunning iMac with Retina 5K display.
But really, looks are only skin deep. When it comes to music at its most intimate — when the sounds are piped straight from the source and directly penetrate your ear canals — it’s the quality of the audio that matters most.
Beats will be serviced by Genius Bars starting on Tuesday. Photo: Beats
Ever since Apple bought Beats for $3 billion back in May, Cupertino has slowly but surely been integrating the headphone maker’s products and services into the official Apple portfolio. It’s added Beats Music to the Apple TV, officially listed it as an Apple app on the App Store, and rolled out a Beats by Dre section at Apple Stores.
Now it looks like Beats by Dre headphones will officially be an Apple product in the biggest way that counts: You’ll soon be able to get them repaired or replaced at your local Genius Bar.
The Beats Solo2 headphones are now wireless. Photo: Beats
Beats Electronics today announced it’s releasing its first new headphones since officially Apple-owned company earlier this year. The new headphones are an updated version of the Solo2 headphones, that brings wireless capabilities to the popular headphones, so you’re no longer tethered to your iPhone when kicking out the jams.
These Astro 38s are easy to pair, last for hours, sound amazing. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
I typically try out a new product for review without reading any of the documentation or media relations stuff that the folks who send us such things want us to look at. I want to have as pristine an experience as possible. Sometimes that leads to little surprises.
I put these new Astro Gaming A38 Bluetooth headphones on my head last week, and paired them with my iPhone to play a little music. After a few songs of various genres, I stopped the tunes and took these off my noggin. I suddenly realized that my girlfriend had been blending up a protein shake in the nearby kitchen. It was surprising because I honestly could not hear it with the headphones on my head and playing music at a relatively low volume – and our blender is really loud.
While they’re great for music, these are also fantastic sounding headphones that help you immerse yourself into any game on your iPad or iPhone, cutting down on the auditory distractions from the outside world when they’re powered up.
Beats has been beaten — on the football field, at least.
Bose just laid a major smackdown on Beats, courtesy of a new deal with the NFL which bars any non-Bose headphones from being shown during interviews on NFL broadcasts.
The wide-ranging agreement covers TV interviews during training camps, practice sessions and, of course, game day — extending from prior to kickoff through 90 minutes after play has finished.
Beats has already responded with a statement, noting that, “Over the last few years athletes have written Beats into their DNA as part of the pre-game ritual. Music can have a significant positive effect on an athlete’s focus and mental preparedness and has become as important to performance as any other piece of equipment.”
Ever since the Lightning Connector was first announced two years ago, we’ve known it could do more than just sync-and-charge: it could also play music. So when Apple bought Beats earlier this year, many assumed that it would be Apple’s new in-house headphone brand who would release the first Lightning-connected cans to market.
But nope. As it turns out, the first headphones to connect via a Lightning port to an iPhone, iPod, or iPad won’t come from Beats. It’ll come from Philips, who have just introduced their Fidelio M2L headphones featuring the funtionality.
Who needs to go out outside this week? Not us: We have headphones, a home-monitoring video camera, a robot to clean the floors and a keyboard that sleeps on your desk, all ready to play with your iDevices. Determined to leave the house? Take the GoPro PowerPole with you and then offload the footage to a new wireless, battery-powered hard drive from Western Digital.
Forget fiddling with those little magnetic iPhone lenses – the Sony QX1 puts proper E-mount Sony lenses onto your iPhone or iPad. It’s actually a tiny camera that clips onto your iDevice, complete with 20.1 MP sensor and even a pop-up flash, and works in concert with the iPhone via Wi-Fi and a companion app. $400
You could buy these new B&W cans and never switch them on, they look that good. But they should sound good too, with huge drivers that “work like those in a hi-fi speaker” (whatever that means), a sweet padded headband and some shiny silver parts on the outside. The Series 2 even comes with a detachable cable with an inline mic for your iPhone. $300
Now you can buy the best paper notebook anywhere in the world – almost. The Baron Fig Confidant notebook now ships internationally, so anyone can enjoy its superior design, from the cloth-bound cover to the clever dot-grid paper to the fold-flat design that stays open on the table to the slightly wider aspect ratio for more comfy writing and sketching. And still just $16.
Dyson’s first robot vacuum cleaner uses a panoramic cyclops eye up on top of the mercifully muted body to map out your rooms to the millimeter. A full-width brush teases dust out of carpets, and the cyclone separates dirt and dust. It runs for up to half an hour before returning to its dock to recharge, and you can even remote control it from iOS and Android apps. $TBA
It’s called the PowerPole, but that’s not even the best thing about it. The PowerPole takes the useless space inside telescopic 17-30-inch GoPro mount and fills it with batteries, enough for eight continuous hours of shooting. The aluminum pole also has a pair of USB ports for charging other gear. $119
The Logitech K480 is a different take on keyboards for mobile. It sits on your desk, waiting for your devices to dock in its slot, and then performs double duty as a stand and as a Bluetooth keyboard. A twisting knob selects between three paired devices, and the K480 has keys for Windows and Mac. The slot is big enough for a tablet and a phone together and it runs on a pair of AAA batteries. $50
The only way the Shutter Button could be more minimal is if it ditched the fashion stylings and came in plain silver. It’s a Bluetooth remote shutter release for iOS and other devices, and it works by masquerading as a volume switch. Therefore, no companion app is required – any camera, even the built-in one, can work with it as long as the app allows you to take a photo using the iPhone’s own volume switch. From $29.
This 1TB/2TB USB 3.0 drive packs a Wi-Fi radio and an SD card slot, making it the most useful pocket hard drive, like, ever. It works with your Mac of course, but also your iPad and iPhone. You can connect up to eight devices, use it as an Internet-sharing Wi-Fi hub and even stream movies to your iPad. The battery lasts six hours for video (20 hours on standby) and you can back up photos direct to the drive using the SD card slot. From $180.
Withings has long been able to track your body with its smart scales and health monitors. Now it tracks your home with this Internet-connected camera. The Home records 1080p video and can alert you to movement via the iPhone app. It works as a security camera, but also as a life-cam, with a timeline mode that lets you make a video diary. It even monitors the air quality inside your home, and works as a baby monitor. If it made breakfast too, I’d marry it. $220