Philips: $30 Bluetooth Streaming Device, Soundbar with Detachable Wireless Speakers and an Unusual Baby Monitor [CES 2013]




CES 2013 bug LAS VEGAS, CES 2013 – Y’know how we said something or other about how iHome had an avalanche of new products? Yeah, forget we said that; the amount of new products at the Philips fort (really, they had, like, an encampment) made the iHome avalanche look like a powder dusting. And amazingly, most of it is actually worth talking about. Here’re the highlights from our booth tour.

There isn’t exactly a lack of iOS-connected baby monitors on the market, but the In.Sight Baby Monitor also comes with both temperature and humidity sensors, and it can alert you when the atmosphere is awry. It also lets parents listen to the audio stream even through the iPhone’s lockscreen, and talk to the baby through the camera’s speaker. Available now for $170.



The big bar above with the teardrop-shaped cross-section is the Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100, the first soundbar in their high-end Fidelio line. Besides sounding pretty fantastic, two wireless speakers are attached magnetically to both ends of the bar; yank them off and voila, you’ve got a 5.1 surround system (with the included subwoofer, not pictured). Mysteriously, the wireless speakers use some form of proprietary signal rather than Bluetooth, wifi or DLNA. The HTL9100 arrives mid year with a hefty $800 price tag.



Compared to all the other flashy stuff at CES, this little Bluetooth streaming pebble is pretty unremarkable — except that it’s $30. Which means that essentially any speaker system you plug the Bluetooth Hi-Fi into becomes a Bluetooth device. For $30. Assuming it performs well enough, this is a pretty big deal — many Bluetooth streamers cost considerably more. Available this month.

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  • christopher_ruehl
  • haineux

    I’ve tried the Philips In.Sight baby monitor.

    On the plus: Set up is INSANELY, AWESOMELY EASY. You run the iOS app, create an account, and then show a QR code to the camera. That’s it. 10 minutes later, the camera should be on the air.

    Price is reasonable, compared to the alternatives. Yes, you can see your baby anywhere there is WiFi or cell coverage. Yes, it sends iOS notifications based on sound, motion, or temperature (but they are delayed at least a minute).

    On the not-so-much: The iOS app is free, but you pay extra if you want unlimited access over cell network. (Most people will be perfectly happy with the free level of service.) The iOS app is OK, but not great. Crashes. The camera image quality is pretty good, not great. There is a multi-second delay, even if you are only a few feet away. There is web-page access to the video, so you don’t NEED an iOS device, but it is not full-feature. The camera turns off its IR LEDs after a few minutes, so you need an iOS device to turn them back on.

    Downright bad: The camera has terrible WiFi reception. I had to put an AirPort in the same room to get it working. Also, the camera seemed to need rebooting every day. Rebooting takes like 10 minutes.

    Maybe I got a very early release of the product, and Philips will fix the bugs.

    The direct competitor is the DropCam, which is similar, at a similar price. I didn’t try it.

    I returned the camera, decided to “Go Full Geek” and get a FOSCAM IP camera. These are better cameras, and some are much cheaper, but require LOTS of set up. If you don’t know what “Port Forwarding” is, you will definitely need help. (Some of the vendors will sell you set up services for $30 ish.) I do know how to configure port forwarding, but it still took me a whole Saturday to get everything working. Really. NOT. TRIVIAL.

    Note, even with a “professional” IP camera, there will be a several-second delay if you are not in the same WiFi network. That’s just the nature of things. (If you want to go the same route, strongly consider a $70-ish model from a year or three ago. The latest models with H.264 require a lot of looking around to find iOS apps that support them.)