Cult of Mac favorite Braven is showing off a wireless speaker at CES this year. It’s totally not what you’re expecting, though: The Vibe System is a range of hybrid Bluetooth/Wi-Fi speakers that can be used individually – hooked up to your iDevices – or in multiroom concert, Sonos-style. And being from Braven, it all runs away from mains power.
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Braven’s new BRV-Bank is a ruggedized backup battery for your mobile devices, with some very neat/curious additions: It has Bluetooth, for one, and it can be remote controlled from your phone. WTF?
If there’s one thing the fine citizens of the United States love in their cars it’s cup holders. God knows why a car needs like 20 places to stow a bucket of coffee or soda, but it does. Which means, ironically, that the average U.S car has an average of 16 cup holders empty at any one time.
Thankfully, the SpeeCup is here to fill up at least one of them, although given the amount of free cup-holder space available, it seems almost silly to combine a speaker, a Siri-enabled mic and a cup-shaped vessel into just one single gadget.
The rush to announce products at CES means we often see CGI renders and vague price promises, just to get in on the news action. But we’re giving SuperTooth a break here for two reasons. One, the company makes great speakers, and two, pretty much every one of those speakers has started life as a dummy model on a trade-show stand.
Kanto’s YU2s seem to come from a time when speakers were solid, simple structures; proud temples to sound that said of their owners, Hey, I’m serious about music, and I know what I’m doing. Aesthetics were important, of course, but unquestioningly took a backseat to sound. Sound was king.
If you haven’t heard of Kanto before, that’s OK — the Canadian outfit just sprouted up in the Vancouver suburbs around five years ago. The YU2s are Kanto’s latest speakers, the smallest of their lineup of a half-dozen or so, and they’re designed to fit unobtrusively on a bookshelf or desk and play music from your computer or mobile device.
The YU2’s performance during our review, however, was nothing short of astonishing — and they could very capably substitute for larger speakers in a variety of roles.
In our original Hidden Radio review, we said that the little twist-to-open Bluetooth speaker looked great, but sounded a little tinny and lacked any way to control playback and iPhone volume from the unit itself.
These have bother been fixed on the new Hidden Radio 2, but the speaker
(and radio) [UPDATE: The Hidden Radio 2 no longer contains a radio] still looks as great as ever.
The Gramophone for iPhone and iPad certainly isn’t the first horn-speaker we’ve seen for our iOS devices, but it might be the most beautiful. The speakers, which run from $200 to $300 depending on size, is fashioned from wood and metal and will boost the sound output of your device by 3x.
Atoll’s SoundPad is a smart cover for the iPad Air with a set of built-in speakers. It costs $130, and snaps onto the iPad with Magnets. It’s flexible, and it connects to your iDevice via Bluetooth. And that is all the information available, which makes me a little suspicious.
The ClipR is a little disk that turns any headphones into a set of Bluetooth headphones. Or, to be more accurate, it turns any 3.5mm jack cable into a Bluetooth-enabled jack cable.
And it has a clip, so you can tuck that cable neatly away.
Wren’s V5AP is still one of my favorite AirPlay speakers, but recently I’ve been kinda off the whole AirPlay thing thanks to an the crazy East German walls of my apartment building. These walls are too crumbly to let me drill a proper hole for even a coat hook, but somehow thick and dense enough to confuse even a strong dual-band Wi-Fi signal. To recap: AirPlay speakers just won’t stay connected.
Thankfully, Wren now offers a Bluetooth version of the big, booming V5, called the V5BT, and it promises to be pretty good.