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.
I’m always surprised how much bigger and louder stereo speakers make music sound. It might be the fact that the 3-D space it creates fools our stupid brains into thinking that the music is surrounding us, but the difference is huge. Try it: take a device that’s hooked up to actual separate stereo speakers and flip between stereo and mono with your source.
And so I expect the Earshots Stereo Speakers to sound a lot bigger than their 34mm diameter would suggest.
It’s unlikely that the Jawbone Jambox will be shoved off its throne anytime soon; not necessarily because it’s the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker out there, but because it was here first, and it made a huge splash (in part because, yes, it sounds pretty good).
But I were to bet on a challenger, I might put my money on the smart new UE Boom. Not only is it ruggedized against drops and splashes, but it’s armed with two very unusual tricks.
It turns out that the iPad Mini is the first Apple mobile device to ship with stereo speakers. Although Apple’s product page only mentions a “built-in speaker,” the two grilles on the new iPad’s bottom edge do in fact contain separate stereo speakers.
After nearly a decade, my iTunes library weighs in at almost ninety-four gigabytes. A lot of serious music nerds would sneeze derisively at that, but it still represents over 13,000 songs that would take me, from start to finish, a full 48 days to listen to back to back.
I’d be lying if I said most of these had been acquired legally. Most of these albums were acquired on Bittorrent in my twenties. Many more were ripped from CDs lent to me by friends and family, or slurped up from Usenet to satisfy my obscure yet surface-thin musical fixations. Some were purchased through iTunes or other sources online, but truthfully, if you stripped everything out of my iTunes library that I’d acquired legally, I’d probably have a digital music library that could fit on a first generation iPod.
Over the course of the last two years, though, something interesting has happened. I’ve grown a conscience. These days, all of the music I listen to is listened to legally. But iTunes not only has no part in it. In fact, for the past two years, my iTunes library has just been collecting dust: a graveyard to the music piracy of my youth.
I’m ashamed of it. I want to try to explain things. Both why I started pirating music, why I stopped, and how, in fits and starts, being a music pirate helped transform me into someone who cared enough about music to buy it.
The ChargeCard is an iPhone charging that’s designed to live in your wallet, purse, or pocket. Shaped like a credit card and measuring just 2.54mm thick, this is the thinnest iPhone charging cable you can buy, and you can pull it out whenever you find a free USB port to charge your device. What’s more, you can finally say goodbye to carrying messy cables.
Apple TV will now send audio wirelessly to your speakers.
If you want to watch a movie on your Apple TV, but you want the sound to play through a stereo or home theater system, rather than through your TV, the only way to do that right now is to install a bunch of messy cables that connect one device to the other — and they need to be relatively close together.
In iOS 6 beta 3, however, you can send audio from the Apple TV to an AirPlay-enabled speaker system at the other end of the room wirelessly.
Pssst! You there, the one just about to buy that Airport Express for your AirPlay setup. Don’t waste your $99 on that plastic wall-wart. Come over here and I’ll sell you this nice white plastic AirPlay brick instead. How much? Well, seeing as it’s you, just $199, although it normally goes for $275.
Oh, by the way. It’s called the playGo AP1. You’re welcome.
iHome’s new iW2 ($200) is an AirPlay-enabled speaker that allows you to send audio from any iOS (4.2 and up) device right to it with the click of a button. It has finally untethered me from my white-wired earbuds, and transformed my living room into a place of musical bliss.
One of the best accessories you can purchase for your new iPhone is a little device that allows you to control your television and other audio/visual gear from your smartphone. It means you don’t have to search around for that lost remote, get up to change the channel, or keep replacing the batteries in all the remotes already littering your home.
The VooMote Zapper combines a universal remote control with a well designed app that allows you to control all of your equipment in every room using nothing but your iOS device. And it’s available now at Apple retail stores nationwide.