Durable/wearable Bluetooth speakers: The Boombot Rex and the Divoom Bean

We’ve had a lot of experience reviewing the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market but what haven’t yet covered speakers so small, you can actually wear them, put them on your bike, or listen to them in the shower. We have two for you today.

The first of these is the $30 Divoom Bean, a small, durable little Bluetooth speaker that looks a little like a ‘smurf lock’ and is the size of a large egg with a carabiner attached (blue above).  It weighs almost nothing and it charges via a micro-USB port on the bottom. It only has 2 buttons on it, a power button and ‘phone’ button. You’ll need to change volume from your phone or other A2DP Bluetooth device and this device seems to automatically switch off after a few minutes of inactivity. It also functions as a speakerphone.

How did it fare in our tests? Read more

Logitech & ClamCase tease new MFi iOS game controllers


Above and below we might be getting a look at teasers for the first gaming controllers that will take advantage of Apple’s new MFi game controller frameworks. The first, above, comes to us from ClamCase. The company posted the teaser above for what appears to be a new controller, dubbed “GameCase”, that would attach to both an iPhone and an iPad (an iPad mini, at least). We spoke with the company who told us that the new controller would indeed follow Apple’s new MFi standards for game controllers.

The second teaser comes to us from Logitech (below). While we don’t actually see the controller in Logitech’s teaser, it appears to hinting at the controller that the company first showed off to developers during WWDC. Read more

Review: The Bose SoundLink Mini is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker…ever

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We’ve had a look at just about all of the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market but Bose, a company known for high (prices and) quality speakers, has never made our ‘best of‘ lists. Its regular Soundlink and Soundlink II products at $300-$349 have sound and features that lower-priced competitors, especially Logitech UE JBL Charge and even the Beats Pill were able to handily beat.

All of that ended the moment I got the $199 Bose Soundlink Mini, a product that shows that Bose is willing to think outside of its “hyper-premium price” box without sacrificing the quality of its product…
Read more

Bose introduces new SoundLink Mini portable Bluetooth Speaker & QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones

Update: You can now pick up the SoundLink at Amazon

Bose had a little event today at Grand Central Station just footsteps away from the Apple Store to announce and demonstrate their new portable products.

We’ve rated the Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers on the market (TL;DR: Overall winnerBest ValueBest soundBest Portable/SoundApps/Updatesmore) but clearly there is some room for the $199 Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker at the top end. Bose gave us a listen and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after hearing such rich sound out of a small device (which weighs about as much as an original iPad and can be stowed away in a coat pocket). It certainly gives the much larger Logitech Boombox a run for its money in volume and edges it in clarity. The downsides are that it is bigger/heavier than the Beats Pill or the Logitech Mini Boombox, it charges via a proprietary AC adapter and it isn’t Bluetooth 4.0.  The sound quality will make those little things melt away, I promise.

The Soundlink speaker will be released on July 11th but pre-orders begin today at Bose retailers.

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Bose also introduced a new level of noise canceling headphones called the QuietComfort 20 and 20i. We got to put some on and hear aircraft level noise disappear while noise canceling features were activated. Bose also has a mid-level noise cancellation mode that can be activated with a switch on the cord and still allows you to hear voices and other important noises you might want to be alerted to. Music is amazing as you’d expect and the buds fit incredibly comfortably in my ears.

The QuietComfort 20 and 20i headphones will be available starting in the summer of 2013 for $299.95.

Both products are highly recommended. Details in the Press release that follows…

Read more

Logitech announces ‘UE BOOM’ Bluetooth speaker, first with 360-degree sound & 15-hour battery

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Logitech’s UE brand is often at the top of our list when it comes to the best bluetooth speakers around, so we’re excited that today the company introduced its latest product with the announcement of the ‘UE BOOM’. Logitech is calling this “the world’s first social music player,” and that’s due to the fact that it’s the first to offer 360-degree sound and a 15-hour rechargeable battery. That’s a nice step up from the 5-8 hours you’ll get with most Bluetooth speakers.

Logitech is also following a trend that many Bluetooth speaker manufacturers have been lately: With UE BOOM you’ll be able to wirelessly connect two UE BOOMs via a free companion app to allow for traditional right/left stereo sound and other sound settings. It’s also water and stain proof: Read more

Pebble releases updated Pebblekit SDK & Sports API with full support for iOS & Android apps

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Pebble, the popular Bluetooth smartwatch that raised over $10M on Kickstarter before shipping to backers in January, today announced the release of an updated SDK and APIs that will allow iOS and Android developers to create apps for the platform. Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky had this to say about the updates:

“The tremendous response we received from Kickstarter backers validated our belief in the value of a smart watch as a wearable computer, but also in the value an open platform brings to truly personalizing the watch to their daily activities”, said Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s founder. “This new investment will help us build out the Pebble development ecosystem and deliver on Pebble’s extraordinary potential.”

The updated Pebblekit SDK will now allow developers to create third-party apps that will be able to send and receive data to apps on the Pebble smartwatch. The updated SDK will effectively allow developers to build new apps for the platform, for example, taking weather or news information from an iOS or Android app and displaying it on the watch. Previously devs were limited to implementing the basic functions of Pebble.

You might have heard RunKeeper recently added support for tracking data using Pebble and today Pebble is making easier for similar fitness apps to do the same with a new Sports API for accessing the GPS features of the watch.  Read more

Review: Belkin Thunderstorm iPad case brings home theater quality sound to the iPad

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With its Retina display, unmatched ecosystem of HD video content, and AirPlay streaming capabilities, the iPad is undeniably one of the best experiences for watching video on a mobile device. The one glaring omission from Apple’s recipe for the perfect mobile video experience, however, is the absence of quality, front-facing speakers. The result is a sound experience that doesn’t quite live up to HD content on the iPad’s best in class Retina display. With several newer devices (see: Galaxy Tab 2, HTC One) adding front-facing, stereo speakers, audio performance is clearly one area Apple is falling behind, and its competitors have certainly taken note.

At CES we first got a look at Belkin’s solution to the problem: A $199 iPad case with integrated front-facing ported speakers that aims to offer a home theatre-like experience right in your hands. Belkin is about to release a new Lightning version of the ‘Belkin Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater’, so we thought the time was right to give you the full run down on how the product performs… Read more

Google Glass users with iPhones will soon approach feature parity with Android users, likely with an iOS app

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In a conversation with a Google employee who is working on the Glass project, Frederic Lardinois was informed that they are adding more-complete iPhone compatibility to Glass “very soon”:

 Glass, the Google employee told me, will soon be able to handle these features independent of the device the user has paired it to (and maybe even independent of the Glass companion app).

While Glass will happily work with any iPhone over Bluetooth or use any Wi-Fi connection to get online, iPhone users are currently unable to get turn-by-turn directions through Glass – one of its killer features. Those direction are pretty useful while you are navigating a new city and they do show off the power of location-based apps on Glass, but the software will currently balk if you ask it to give you directions while it’s connected to an iPhone.

For Android phone users, Glass owners have to run a companion app on their connected phone to enable all of Glass’ functionality. However, it is unclear how complete feature parity is going to be achieved on the more-restricted iOS.

Read more