Bluetooth November 17, 2015

AAPL: 114.18

1.84
Stock Chart

There aren’t many iPad Pro-specific keyboards out there — Apple’s $170 Smart Keyboard and Logitech’s $150 Create (reviewed here) are the first two, if you can find them, with at least a few others announced and on their way to stores. But there’s really no need to wait on iPad Pro-specific keyboards, or spend a king’s ransom for one. Tons of iPad-compatible Bluetooth keyboards are already available, and thankfully at much lower prices.

Depicted with an iPad Pro on its box, Zagg’s Messenger Universal ($70) is clearly an alternative to Apple’s Smart Keyboard. Just like Apple’s accessory, Messenger Universal combines a full-sized keyboard with a magnetic iPad Pro-ready stand that folds down to a small size. But it skips the iPad Pro-only Smart Connector in favor of Bluetooth, and rather than serving as an oddly thick screen cover, takes the shape of a standalone folio that you can carry around as needed. Although it fits the iPad Pro perfectly, Messenger Universal works with all iPads — and other devices — so you needn’t feel constrained to using the keyboard with only a single tablet…

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Bluetooth November 11, 2015

AAPL: 116.11

-0.66
Stock Chart

So many of Apple’s products either rely on or benefit from wireless Bluetooth connectivity these days that viewing Bluetooth’s roadmap is almost like viewing features for future Apple devices and accessories. Today the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has shared details on updates planned for the wireless connectivity technology in 2016 including improvements to range, transfer speed, and smart applications. Future and potentially even current Apple devices will certainly benefit as a result. expand full story

Bluetooth November 7, 2015

AAPL: 121.06

0.14
Stock Chart

If you are looking for some differentiation in your Bluetooth speakers, the JBL Pulse 2 ($199) and the Marsboy Orb ($30 after SPDJVX3R code) offer varying degrees of light show to accompany your music. While the JBL Pulse 2 is essentially a very good Charge 2+ with a light show wrapped around the outside, the Marsboy brings a base model Chinese brand speaker with a LED array strapped on. Is there any middle ground here?

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9to5toys 

Bluetooth November 3, 2015

AAPL: 121.18

1.68
Stock Chart

I don’t envy any vendor of legitimately premium audio accessories made for Apple’s devices. After established audio companies including Bose, Klipsch, and Bowers & Wilkins demonstrated that Apple device owners were willing to pay $300, then $400, then $600 for all-in-one speaker systems with increasingly better sound quality, Beats by Dre materialized, hooking people on expensive, stylish, and sonically underwhelming alternatives. Between Beats and the Bluetooth revolution, it seems clear that the speaker market is all about flash and convenience rather than audio quality… right?

Of course not. There have always been low-end, mid-range, high-end, and ultra-premium audio options; Beats has succeeded at capturing (a lot of) low- to mid-priced customers. By comparison, the respected British speaker maker Bowers & Wilkins focuses on the upper end of the scale. It literally established the high-end Apple speaker category with its original Zeppelin back in 2007, then refreshed it with AirPlay support as Zeppelin Air in 2011.

Now that another four years have passed, B&W has returned with another “even better” sequel: Zeppelin Wireless ($700). Having spent years touting its atypically upscale design and components as alternatives to low-fidelity speakers, the company is offering a compromise to broaden the new Zeppelin’s appeal. Despite packing speaker and amplifier hardware that’s in the same league as B&W’s $800 A7, Zeppelin Wireless includes a key feature — Bluetooth — only found in its entry-level $350 model T7. But the new Zeppelin still has AirPlay, for those who care, as well as Spotify Connect. So while the price tag may limit the number of people who can afford this new all-in-one speaker, its feature set has broad appeal…

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Bluetooth October 26, 2015

AAPL: 115.28

-3.80
Stock Chart

Apple TV 4 isn’t the only new hardware coming out of Cupertino today. Announced earlier this month, the new Beats Pill+ is now available to order for $229 in black or white finishes. The new portable Bluetooth speaker is the first new design to come out of Beats since Apple bought the headphones and speaker company last for $3 billion last year in part to use its Beats Music service as the foundation for Apple Music. The rechargeable speaker uses a Lightning port and cable, the same as iPhones, to power up for up to 12 hours of use. expand full story

Bluetooth October 12, 2015

AAPL: 111.60

-0.52
Stock Chart

I’m a strong advocate of the philosophy of buying the right thing once. My view is for any activity you care about a lot, it’s cheaper in the long run to buy an expensive product that will keep you happy for a great many years – maybe even for a lifetime – than a cheap product you’ll end up wanting to replace a few years down the line. Buy cheap, buy twice, as they say.

My hi-fi system is a great example. When I was a lot younger, I splashed out on a Bang & Olufsen hi-fi system that was more than twice the price of everything else I tested. Twenty years on, it now looks like an extraordinarily good value. It’s so old it has a cassette deck (yes, really!), but all it took to bring it back up to date was the addition of a simple Wi-Fi audio receiver to add AirPlay support.

Standalone Bluetooth speakers have therefore been of very limited interest to me – and I’d never have dreamed that one could ever replace a proper hi-fi system. So I was intrigued by one that claimed it could: the Devialet Phantom. As if that wasn’t enough to capture my interest, Devialet is a company with a serious reputation when it comes to high-end audio: they make the amps B&W uses to demo their speakers at audio shows. And yes, I’ll admit that part of what made me want to try it was my profound skepticism that any Bluetooth speaker could be worth $1,990 … expand full story

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