JBL has a new party in a box and lots of other big plans for your ears

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The JBL PartyBox Encore is a 100W speaker with a Lightshow and two microphones.
The JBL PartyBox Encore is a 100W speaker with a Lightshow and two microphones.
Photo: JBL

Every year Samsung subsidiary JBL rolls out a tempting raft of updated or new audio products at CES, but you can’t get them right away. CES 2022, held in Las Vegas earlier this month, was no different. The company showed its new JBL PartyBox Encore and a slew of other Bluetooth speakers, earbuds and headphones. We’ll round them up below. Some are coming in spring and others in summer.

Pozio Cradle keeps your phone from listening to you while you charge it

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The Pozio Cradle is a wireless charger that jams your smartphone's ability to hear you until you tell it to stop.
The Pozio Cradle is a wireless charger that jams your smartphone's ability to hear you until you tell it to stop.
Photo: Pozio

A device shown at CES 2022 that made some publications’ “weirdest stuff from the show” lists is the Pozio Cradle. It’s a “listening blocker” that wirelessly charges smartphones. It ensures your gadget and its voice assistant can’t hear or record what you say, according to the company.

Take the show wherever you go with Samsung’s new Freestyle projector

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The Samsung Freestyle projects video or ambient lighting and works as a smart speaker.
The Samsung Freestyle projects images, video or ambient lighting and works as a smart speaker.
Photo: Samsung

At CES 2022, Samsung Electronics showed a new portable screen and entertainment device it’s calling “The Freestyle.” The company also called the device the first of its kind. It’s a small projector and smart speaker that works with iOS and Android devices to stream video or sync audio to ambient lighting.

HomeKit shakes things up at CES 2022

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HomeKit was a stand-out star at CES 2022
CES 2022 brought daily announcements of new devices with Apple’s HomeKit home-automation system.
Photo: Cult of Mac

There is a lot to get HomeKit fans excited at this year’s CES tech showcase in Las Vegas. Quite a few companies announced products that will support Apple’s home-automation system, including lights, door cameras and more.

Glitzy projects like concept cars get more attention, but HomeKit accessories are more likely to make people’s lives better.

See all the craziest concept cars from CES 2022

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Cadillac's InnerSpace looks truly intergalactic.
Cadillac's InnerSpace looks truly intergalactic.
Photo: Cadillac

In recent years, CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics confab, has become quite the major auto show. After all, consumer tech and automotive tech keep blending more and more. For CES 2022, automakers like BMW, Cadillac, Hyundai, Mercedes and Sony — wait, who? — really put some crazy futuristic concepts into high gear.

Overall, the mix of ideas ranged from mildly interesting to jaw-dropping. You had the prosaic news, like Amazon Fire TV integrating with Ford and Lincoln vehicles and YouTube video appearing in Volvos. But you also had the wild stories, like some concept cars that look like they belong elsewhere in the galaxy and others that change colors by themselves.

Meanwhile, the projected year when Apple might release an autonomous car through Project Titan keeps getting pushed back despite keen interest in the project.

Nanoleaf lights are first non-Apple Thread border routers for HomeKit

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Nanoleaf's groovy mood lighting products will soon be Thread border routers for HomeKit devices.
Nanoleaf's groovy mood lighting products will soon be Thread border routers for HomeKit devices.
Photo: Nanoleaf

At CES 2022, Nanoleaf said an upcoming firmware update will make its lighting products the first third-party border routers for HomeKit-over-Thread devices available now and coming out in the future.

The firmware update, due to roll out in the first quarter of 2022, will broaden Nanoleaf products’ support for Thread, improving devices’ connectivity and reliability over home networks.

Aura Air purifier gets smarter with HomeKit [Updated]

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Aura Air purifier gets smarter with HomeKit
Aura Air just became a better option for Apple users looking for professional-grade air filtration.
Photo: Aura

The Aura Air cleanses and disinfects indoor air, getting rid of viruses, bacteria and mold. And the professional system will soon be upgraded to support Apple’s HomeKit automation system.

Satechi’s new AirPods Max charging stand also tops up your iPhone

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Satechi's new stand holds and charges AirPods Max and other gear -- and it looks good doing it.
Satechi's new stand holds and charges AirPods Max and other gear -- and it looks good doing it.
Photo: Satechi

Among accessories maker Satechi’s new products showing at CES 2022 is the new 2-in-1 Headphone Stand with Wireless Charger designed for AirPods Max, rolled out Thursday.

While a sleek, stainless steel arm suspends your headphones, the base charges your iPhone or other Qi-enabled device and provides a USB-C port to power up the headphones, too.

Belkin seriously challenges AirPods Pro with its new ANC earbuds

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Belkin's new ANC earbuds look like they match up pretty well with AirPods Pro.
Belkin's new ANC earbuds look like they match up pretty well with AirPods Pro.
Photo: Belkin

Building on other versions of ANC earbuds released in 2021, Belkin rolled out its new SoundForm Immerse Noise Cancelling Earbuds in Las Vegas this week — and they promptly became a CES Innovation Award 2022 Honoree.

The new buds challenge aging champ AirPods Pro, due for a revamp, not only with hybrid active noise cancellation (ANC) with Hear-Thru mode, but they work with Apple’s vast Find My network. And they flaunt a number of premium features.

Belkin introduced other products at CES, too, of course.

Google steps up fight against iPhone by ripping off more Apple features

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Google rips off iPhone features
Spatial audio, unlock with Wear OS, and more on the way.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Google plans to make its latest Pixel and Wear OS devices more compelling alternatives to iPhone and Apple Watch by ripping off some of Cupertino’s most popular software features — including spatial audio and AirDrop.

The Android-maker revealed the long list of improvements, which will span all of Google’s software platforms as well as Windows, this week at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. Here’s what you can expect if you plan to ditch your Apple devices and swap sides.