Apple takes $20 off its new wireless Beats Powerbeats2 in Apple Watch colors

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Earlier this week we noted that Apple has refreshed the Beats by Dre wireless Beats Powerbeats 2 earbuds with new colors aimed at Apple Watch Sport users. Today, Apple has updated its Beats headphones website to promote the new line of headphones along with a new price: $179, which is $20 less than the previous price at $199.

With its onboard storage for music and Bluetooth connection, Apple is promoting these headphones as a way to tap into listening to music with the Apple Watch without the need of a connected iPhone. Even with the ties to Apple and the new Apple Watch-centric marketing campaign, the new earphones will still work with other Bluetooth media players.

We noted earlier today on 9to5Toys that some retailers are offering as much as $50 off of the wireless headphones, and Amazon is selling the accessory at various discounted prices ranging from $169 to $189.

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Review: House of Marley Liberate XLBT environmentally-friendly over-ear Bluetooth headphones

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Friends have often expressed surprise at the fact that I continue to use wired headphones. My beautifully-portable and much-loved Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones go with me almost everywhere, while my Master & Dynamic MH40s are my go-to headphones in the living room.

Friends know my aversion to visible cables, and I’m usually an ‘any excuse for a gadget’ type guy, so why, they ask, do I continue to wear wired headphones? There have been a couple of reasons for that. First, the ‘yet another device to charge’ factor – to add to my Macs, iPad, iPhone, bike cam, GPS and now Apple Watch.

Second, the sound quality of Bluetooth headphones hasn’t compared well to wired ones in my experience. I’ve tried a bunch of Bluetooth headphones in the store, but none persuaded me. However, designing with wood and leather is always a good way to catch my attention, so I thought I’d try House of Marley’s Liberate XLBT over-ear headphones …  Read more

Apple releases new PowerBeats2 Wireless headphone colors aimed at Apple Watch Sport users

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image credit: Ben Thomas

Apple quietly updated its Powerbeats2 headphones to match Apple Watch Sport colors this week signalling a new move to focus audio accessories to the Apple Watch ecosystem. The new colors, which match the Apple Watch Sport Band colors of Blue, Black, Green, Pink and (updated) White, are available in Apple Stores but haven’t arrived at other retail locations yet.

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The Apple Watch can store and play 2GB of music without a tethered iPhone wirelessly via Bluetooth 4 and with watchOS 2 will get access to many more audio applications. It wouldn’t be out of character for Apple to release over the ear Beats headphones in matching colors or even PowerBeats Wireless to match the more expensive stainless steel Apple Watch.

The new Powerbeats2 headphones will of course work with all Apple and other Bluetooth 4 devices even though they appear to be focused on the growing Apple Watch market.

Apple Powerbeats2 Wireless earphones still come in their original, dare I say, dated colors for $199 ($189 Amazon, $169 Best Buy or $160 Ebay) but the original White version has been moved from the old lineup the the new lineup. Original urBeats wired headphones can be found for as little as $45 via 9to5Toys.com

(Via Benjamin Thomas) Read more

Opinion: Don’t judge – Apple Watch accessories are supposed to be personal, not universal

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Over the past fifteen years, I’ve seen certain commenters pick the same fight literally every time Apple releases another device: “are accessories really needed for _____?” Fill the blank in with “iPod,” “iPhone,” “iPad,” “Apple TV,” or “Apple Watch” and you’ll see how the answer has eventually turned out to be “yes” every time. Even though I’ve tested virtually every type of Apple accessory out there, I couldn’t help but shake my head when companies first announced cases for the Apple TV’s remote control. Crazy, right? But there were eventually behind-TV mounts, Bluetooth keyboards, and universal remote controls that became truly handy for even Apple’s least-accessorized device.

Now the Apple Watch is coming, and despite Apple’s focus on its purely aesthetic customizability — including welcoming third-party band makers to the party — the “is this necessary?” comments are appearing again. “Nothing like a faux carbon fiber decal on your watch to convey your sense of good taste,” said one commenter, who separately opined that “every protective product listed here is the modern day equivalent of plastic-covered furniture.” To be honest, I personally agree with the first sentiment, but I’m not the target market for stickers. And I can still remember some people describing iPhone cases as plastic-wrapped furniture, back before Apple started selling them, too. So who’s actually right here, a handful of anonymous commenters acting as arbiters of universal style, or consumers looking to have fun customizing their new toys to their personal tastes?…

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Review: A-Audio’s Icon over-ear headphones pack Bluetooth and active noise cancellation in a premium package

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These days, it seems like there is an endless variety of headphones to choose from. With new models popping up on a weekly basis, it’s hard to sort through the crowd to find the ones that fit you best. When it comes to active noise cancellation this elite selection thins out a bit, but there are only a handful that fall into the same category as A-Audio’s Icon over-ear headphones.

From a functionality perspective, these headphones give you everything but the kitchen sink. They can be used wirelessly via Bluetooth with active noise cancellation, in passive (wired) mode, and even feature dual sound profiles. Along with that, they include a wide variety of accessories that offer more than enough for any situation…

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The Next Episode: Apple’s plans for Beats-based music service revealed

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Six months after buying the subscription music service Beats Music, Apple is actively working to launch a completely new paid streaming music service that will compete with Spotify and Rdio. Yet to be named, the new service is entirely Apple-designed, yet leverages Beats’ technologies and music content, a collaboration that has thus far led to personnel challenges and delays. Multiple sources within Apple and the music industry have provided the first in-depth details of Apple’s upcoming streaming service, which we share below.

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Neil Young’s “HD Audio” PonoPlayer put up against iPhone, results fall flat

‘HD audio’ has been a buzzword for the last few years, as Apple and several record labels have been working on higher-resolution audio formats to repackage and resell older music. But the format took a body blow this weekend when former NY Times columnist David Pogue put musician Neil Young’s new $400 HD Audio PonoPlayer up against a regular old iPhone using a ‘blind trial,’ in which the HD PonoPlayer appears to have lost…

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Hands-on with The House of Marley’s Legend ANC headphones and Chant Mini speaker (Video)

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Along our CES 2015 journey we stopped over at The House of Marley to take a look at some of the new gear they have launching this year. If you’re not familiar with the company, they create a wide range of audio accessories which are crafted from natural and recycled materials. In the video below, we took a closer look at the Legend ANC headphones and Chant Mini Bluetooth speaker…

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Harman and Philips announce noise-cancelling headphones, drawing power from Lightning without batteries

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Harman JBL Reflect Aware left, Philips Fidelio NC1L right

Noise-cancelling headphones are great, but they do have one big drawback: noise-cancellation requires power, giving you yet another device to charge. Harman and Philips have each removed that pain-point, announcing noise-cancelling devices with a Lightning connector instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack, drawing their power from the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

The Harman JBL Reflect Aware are earphones aimed at sports use, allowing you to choose the level of noise-cancellation – handy for times when you are on the street and want to retain some awareness of things like traffic noise. They come in at a reasonably wallet-friendly $149. Harman has them at CES, but no word yet on availability …  Read more