speakers January 25

AAPL: 99.44

-1.98
Stock Chart

Even the source Nowhereelse is unsure about this one, but it’s certainly interesting to imagine. A purported blueprint illustration of the upcoming iPad Air 3 tablet claims to show four speakers, not two, planned for the updated 9.7-inch tablet, as well as a possible camera flash for the first time. Apple focused on the larger iPad Pro and upgraded iPad mini 4 last year, and an upgraded iPad Air 3 is expected sometime this year.

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speakers January 12

AAPL: 99.96

1.43
Stock Chart

A new patent awarded to Apple today suggests that the company’s audio plans for future iPhones may go beyond reportedly ditching the 3.5mm headphone socket in favor of Lightning and Bluetooth. The patent is very densely-worded, but seemingly describes a method of getting higher-quality and higher-volume audio from speakers built into slimmer devices.

Apple’s statement of the problem is clear enough.

Given the area constraints imposed on many portable electronic devices, it is increasingly difficult to provide high-quality audio sound output and pickup without hindering the ability to make portable electronic devices smaller and thinner. Consequently, there is a need for improved approaches to provide high-quality audio sound output and/or pickup from portable electronic devices as they get smaller and thinner.

The language describing Apple’s proposed solution is less clear, but from a combination of this and the accompanying diagrams, I at least have a working theory of what is being suggested …

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speakers December 4, 2015

AAPL: 119.03

3.83
Stock Chart

At the start of the week we saw Apple officially pull the plug on Beats Music after using it as the foundation for Apple Music which includes a streaming radio station dubbed Beats 1 as a salute. On the hardware front, Apple is totally marching forward with the headphone and speaker business it acquired after buying Beats for $3 billion a year and a half ago. The first totally new product to come from Apple under the Beats brand is the recently announced Beats Pill+ ($195, reg. $229), a portable Bluetooth speaker that recharges over Lightning like iPhones and iPads.

The Pill+ marks Apple’s first real step back into the speaker business since briefly entering it in with the iPod Hi-Fi from 2006 to 2007; aside from color variations and wireless models, all other Beats hardware has been designed before the Apple move. Still, Apple’s new portable speaker resembles previous versions of Beats hardware more than you might expect from the iPhone maker in 2015. There’s even a companion Pill+ app for both iOS and Android. And even though this is clearly a Beats-branded product and not purely Apple, there’s something for fans of both to like, but is it the best speaker in its class?

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9to5toys 

speakers December 3, 2015

AAPL: 115.20

-1.08
Stock Chart

Apple’s new Beats Pill+ Bluetooth speaker

Apple may have outsourced Black Friday discounts on its products to other retailers this year, but it’s not staying completely out of the promotion game during the Christmas shopping season. Starting today Apple is bundling $60 gift cards that can be used toward Apple Music memberships with almost all Beats headphones and speakers purchased from Apple for a limited time. The promotion specifically pushes Apple Music memberships as it can pay for almost 6 months of access, but the $60 credit can be used toward iTunes, iBooks, and App Store, and Mac App Store purchases and subscriptions as well. expand full story

speakers November 3, 2015

AAPL: 122.57

1.39
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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speakers 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

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