AirPlay, Bluetooth Speaker Choices Blossom

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 10 2012 - 6:01am




LAS VEGAS — Traditional iPod/iPhone docking speakers are mingling with a greater selection of AirPlay-equipped speakers and stereo Bluetooth speakers to drive up sales of speakers designed exclusively to reproduce music stored on mobile devices.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

Acoustic Research: The brand’s first AirPlay speaker is the Acoustic Research AirPlay Audio System (ARAP50), due in the spring at a suggested $199. It features built-in Wi-Fi, 2x10-watt amplification, and a USB port that enables users to connect their Apple device via cable to the speaker, which will then charge the connected device and capture its music in digital PCM form for playback.

The brand’s new outdoor portable Bluetooth wireless speaker (AWSBT1) is due in the spring at a suggested $129.

Coby: The company is expanding its docking speaker line with seven new units, including its first iPad docks and first Bluetooth speaker system.

Three iPad docks include one with motorized mechanism to display a docked iPad in portrait or landscape mode. That model, the CSMP185 iPad/iPhone/iPod dock, features full-range stereo speakers, 20-watt total output, adjustable ambient lighting, 3.5mm jack, and full-function remote. Price and ship date were unavailable.

A second iPad/iPhone/iPod dock is the CSMP130 with 2.1-channel speaker system, 3.5mm audio line-in jack, and full-function remote control. Additional details were unavailable.

A third iPad speaker dock doesn’t hard-dock with any Apple mobile device’s 30-pin connector, but it connects to any stereo Bluetooth device, such as an iPad, which the dock is designed to hold. This speaker, the CSMP135 Bluetooth iPad docking system, is a compact AC/DC model with rechargeable battery and 3.5mm stereo line-in jack. It lacks a USB port for charging mobile devices.

Prices and ship dates were unavailable.

Two new iPod/iPhone speaker systems are also on display along with an iPod/iPhone-docking AC/DC boombox. Details were unavailable.

Ecko Unlimited: The $159-suggested Spray Bluetooth speaker joins the mobile audio line of the CE brand inspired by fashion designer Marc Ecko. The speaker also doubles as a Bluetooth hands-free speaker phone with built-in microphone. Shipments start in March from Mizco International.

Edifier: The Chinese company’s latest Bluetooth speaker system, the $349 Spinnaker, is the company’s most expensive Bluetooth speaker to date. It consists of two speakers in tusk-shaped enclosures, each 15-inchestall, designed to project sound towards the listener. Each enclosure features front-facing tweeter and mid-range drivers and a downward-firing woofer.

Energy: A portable Bluetooth speaker from the Klipschowned brand operates on four AA batteries and incorporates built-in echo-cancelling microphone for improved hands-free phone calling. For phone calls, the device features on-button pickup or reject-call function.

A circular button layout on the front features controls for volume up/down, track forward and back, and play/ pause, which also accepts calls. Other features include 3.5mm input, power button on back, and universal 100- 240 AC power supply. The target ship date is the spring. Pricing was unavailable.

Haier: The company’s ViewHD is an iPad-docking speaker system with HDMI output to display photos and unprotected HD video to a connected TV. The $99-suggested speaker rotates the iPad into portrait and landscape modes. It also incorporates FM tuner that can be controlled form a free app downloaded from iTunes.

Eton: The company’s first Bluetooth wireless speaker, the Rukus Solar, is a portable AC/DC model that uses solar power to charge its internal lithium-ion battery. The speaker also features an e-INK display, allowing a user to view battery charge, solar charge and Bluetooth connectivity information with a 180-degree viewing angle in direct sunlight. Via a USB cable, the system charges most portable music players and smartphone. It ships in the second quarter at a price that was unavailable.

House of Marley: A trio of high-performance tabletop iPod/iPhone/iPad docking speakers ships in the first quarter following the display of early prototypes at the 2011 CES.

All are two-way single-chassis stereo systems, including the $599-suggested One Foundation with 5.25-inch woofers, 1-inch tweeters, DSP and IR remote with wood finish. It ships sometime in the first quarter

The $299 Get Up Stand, shipping in January, features 4.5-inch woofers, 1-inch tweeters, and aux in. The $349 AC/DC Bag Of Rhythm, also shipping in January, features 4.5-inch woofers and 1-inch tweeters in coaxial configuration.

Memorex: Three new iPod/iPhone-docking AC/DC portable speakers include one travel model, the folding $59-suggested MA3122 for use as an alarm clock with a Memorex app. It uses four AAA batteries and is available in four colors.

The other two models are designed for on-the-go use and feature built-in handles. They are $69-suggested MA7221 and $59 MA2213, both running on four AA batteries. All will be available at retail in March.

Monster: The company is launching its ClarityHD Model One iPod/iPhone speaker in two new colors: dark bronze and silver. The $749-suggested Claritysub- branded product, already available in automotivegrade gloss red and yellow, is a bookshelf-size two-way speaker that accepts an optional $99-suggested stereo Bluetooth receiver called Streamcast. It also accepts a Streamcast HD receiver that’s part of a $189-suggested transmitter/receiver kit, which turns a PC into a 12-zone wireless audio system that streams up to four different songs at a time throughout the house.

Polk Audio: The company is launching the latest iteration of its i-Sonic one-piece tabletop audio system as part of a renewed effort to offer personal audio products. (See p. 8.)

Pure Audio: The company’s first AirPlay-equipped speaker is the Contour 200i, which features Ethernet port, embedded Wi-Fi and an embedded dock to play and charge iPods, iPhones and iPads. The dock captures audio from the devices in digital PCM form.

At a tentative suggested $329, it has 36-watt RMS output, digital coaxial audio output for connection to an A/V system, free iPod and iPhone apps to access Internet radio content, Ethernet port, aux input, multi-color display and credit-card remote to control Apple-device functions.

Sharp: The company is launching its first microsystems with Apple AirPlay, Wi-Fi Direct to stream music from DLNA-equipped mobile devices, and iPad-compatible USB ports. (See p. 17.)

Soundfreaq: The startup supplier of docking tabletop speakers is launching red and white versions of its $159-suggested AC/DC Sound Step Recharge, an iPad/iPhone/iPod-docking portable speaker system. They ship in the first quarter.

Westinghouse: The TV supplier’s first Bluetooth speakers include the $99 WSB-N20B Bluetooth soundbar and $129 WSB-N20BWseries wireless Bluetooth soundbar. They will ship in January.

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