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Home >> Suppliers' Quandary: To Dock Or Not To Dock
LAS VEGAS – Docking-speaker suppliers are broadening the appeal of their tabletop and portable models by adding Bluetooth or Wi-Fi/DLNA to their devices to connect with the broadest base of mobile devices, but physical docking isn’t going away anytime soon.
Here’s what companies are unveiling at CES:
Accessory Power is adding to its Bluetooth speaker selection with two models, one of which is the company’s first 2.1 Bluetooth speaker system. It retails for a suggested $99.
Braven is expanding its Bluetooth-speaker selection with three more models, which offer higher output than the three models released in 2012.
The top-end model is the $299-suggested 20-watt 850, shipping in June. The outdoor-oriented 6-watt BRV-1 ships in February at $169, and the 6-watt 570, targeted to the cost-conscious, is shipping in January at $119 in black and white. Like the company’s three other models, all three also double as hands-free speakerphones and charge mobile devices via USB.
The 20-watt 850 is almost four times larger than the previous flagship, the $189 650, but it’s still less than a foot long. Like the 650, it charges USB-connected devices, delivers more than 12 hours of playtime, features integrated speakerphone, and comes in the same durable aircraft-grade aluminum case. Its USB port not only charges cellphones but also charges tablets and other 2.1-amp devices. Two can be paired wirelessly for use as separate left-right speakers. The 850 also decodes AptX over Bluetooth. It comes with two active and two passive drivers.
Coby is expanding its selection of Bluetooth speakers at CES in response to what it says has been fivefold unit growth in the market in the past two years.
Five new Bluetooth speakers are priced from a suggested $19.99 to $79.99.
The $19 AC/DC CSBT11 is a palm-size cylindrical speaker with built-in li-ion rechargeable battery and speakerphone function. The $24 AC/DC CSBT14 mini speakers are square-shaped and available in four colors with built-in li-ion rechargeable battery, aux input and speakerphone function. The $34 CSBT22 mini tabletop speaker features speakerphone function, built-in li-ion battery, aux input and 2x2-watt power output. At $49, the CSBT25 features 2x5-watt output, speakerphone function, USB charging and aux input. At $79, the CSBT85 features a built-in subwoofer. The speaker features a slot designed to hold smartphones and tablets.
Eton is expanding its selection of solar-powered Bluetooth speakers to three from one with the launch here of the Rugged Rukus and Rukus XL. Their suggested retails are tentatively set at $99 and $199, respectively.
They will join the Rukus Solar. All operate on AC/DC and are designed for outdoor activities such as camping.
The Rugged Rukus features solar panel, internal lithiumion battery and IPX-4 splash-proof design. It recharges a USB-connected cellphone or tablet. The speaker includes hooks to strap to a backpack, two active 40mm speakers and a battery-charge indicator.
The Rukus XL lacks splash-proof design and backpack hook but features 22- watt output, two woofers, two tweeters, and four passive radiators.
Ship dates were unavailable.
House of Marley’s $99 Chant Bluetooth speaker features an Earth-friendly chassis, which is made of natural bamboo, and a fabric carry case made of recycled hemp, organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. The chassis is a 5.9-inch-tall 4.4-inch-diameter cylinder packing a 2-inch full-range speaker and a 2-inch passive radiator. It also features handsfree microphone, 3.5mm aux input, mini-USB charging port and six-hour rechargeable battery.
The $399-suggested Bag of Riddim Bluetooth speaker is a two-way boombox-style speaker that streams the aptX and AAC codecs over Bluetooth. It features birch-wood baffle, recycled plastic enclosure, carry strap, and fabric carry bag made of recycled hemp, organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. Key features include two 4.5-inch woofers, two 1-inch tweeters, touch-sensitive controls, a front USB to charge portable devices, and 3.5mm aux input. The chassis is 8.6 inches by 20.9 inches by 6.9 inches. It runs on 6 D cell batteries that deliver up to eight hours of playback. All ship in the first quarter.
HMDX is launching Bluetooth rechargeable speakers. They are the $49 Jam Plus, which comes in packaging that looks like a jar of jam, and the $99 Jam Party portable boombox. Both models feature Bluetooth AVRCP, enabling users to control music selection from the speaker, not just from the Bluetooth-equipped smartphone or tablet. All ship in the first quarter.
iLive, from Digital Products, is bringing its first iLivebranded Bluetooth-equipped under-cabinet radio for the kitchen. The iLive Blue IKB333S Bluetooth speaker features stereo Bluetooth, FM radio,10 station presets, cooking timer, LCD display and LED undercabinet lighting to illuminate the counter space. It comes with mounting template and screws. Pricing and ship dates were unavailable.
Kinyo has the $139 MS-85, shipping in mid-March, is a universal tablet speaker that doubles as a floor stand for tablets and smartphones.
Kicker’s $299-suggested Amphitheater 50-watt three-way docking speaker will get two companions at CES.
The current Amphitheater speaker dock features Made for iPod/iPhone/ iPad 30-pin connector and has 6-inchsquare reflex subwoofer, 5-inch midbass speakers and 0.75-inch silk-dome tweeters.
It will be joined by the Amphitheater wireless speaker dock with Bluetooth, which features 30-pin connector and built-in stereo Bluetooth. It’s tentatively scheduled to ship in January. The third model will be the Amphitheater universal wireless speaker with Bluetooth but no dock. It will be available in spring.
Klipsch Group is coming to CES with an expanded selection of Klipschbrand wireless digital-media speakers, including the brand’s first “concert on the go” Bluetooth speaker and a high-price triamplified speaker said to deliver the performance of a component-based audio system.
Both speakers are part of a new Klipsch Music Center series that will expand later in 2013 and 2014.
Libratone’s Zipp is a Wi-Fi-equipped AirPlay speaker that will stream music via Wi-Fi directly from Apple’s mobile devices if the speaker is out of range of a home’s Wi-Fi network.
The AC/DC speaker features the European audio company’s PlayDirect technology, which works in conjunction with AirPlay to create a direct Wi-Fi connection between the Zipp and Apple’s mobile devices as well as between the Zipp and iTunes-equipped computers.
It retails for $399.
Libratone plans PlayDirect firmware updates in January for its two other AirPlay speakers, the Libratone Lounge and Libratone Live. The former relails for $1,299, and the latter retails for $569 and more.
LG is launching three home models, all with Apple’s Lightning connector, and its first two portable models, both with stereo Bluetooth.
The lineup starts with the oval-shaped ND2530 with 10-watt output, Lightning dock connector, Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad USB port to play music from connected Apple devices and charge them, USB charging of Android devices, stereo Bluetooth and nearfield communications (NFC) for initial Bluetooth pairing.
The step-up ND5530 adds 30-watt output, Apple AirPlay, embedded Wi-Fi, and DNLA networking to go with Bluetooth, NFC, Lightning dock, Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad USB port and USB charging of Android devices.
Both models ship in March and will be followed by June shipments of the ND8530, which offers the same features as the ND5530 but adds 80- watt output.
Memorex’s Imation brand will launch three Bluetooth speakers. They are the folding Bluetooth Travel Speaker, FlexBeats Bluetooth boombox, and Bluetooth alarm clock with USB charging port.
The folding Travel Speaker folds to fit in purses or pouches and comes with hands-free microphone for hands-free calling. Its rechargeable battery delivers up to six hours of playback time. Features include fourspeaker performance, aux in and included Memorex Voice Changing app.
The FlexBeats boombox operates on four AA batteries and features FM tuner, two active 3.5-inch speakers, two passive speakers, bass boost, aux in and headphone jack.
Monster is expanding its Bluetooth speaker selection up in price point to a suggested $699 for the Clarity HD Katana, a three-way triamplified tabletop speaker that streams AAC and Apt-X codecs over Bluetooth. It ships in January.
The speaker also integrates into Monster’s Streamcast HD wireless multi-room audio system, which uses PCs and other audio products as music sources.
Streamcast HD delivers up to four audio streams simultaneously to up to 12 zones, each zone capable of playing any one of the four streams. Range is up to 100 feet. The system consists of a $69 Streamcast USB-stick transmitter, a $99 receiver, and a $249 Bridge, which connects to legacy sound systems for playback but also features audio inputs to stream connected sources wirelessly. The receiver will also plug into other Bluetooth-equipped single-chassis speakers.
MTX Audio is launching a portable, powered Thunder Puck speaker, and two iPhone/iPad docking speakers, both featuring precision-milled aluminum chassis. One incorporates Apple AirPlay. Details were unavailable.
Naxa’s NHS3033 tower speaker with Bluetooth features 20-watts RMS output, FM tuner with 20 memory presets, remote, USB input, MicroSD card slot and aux in at a suggested $99.
The $49-suggested NHS2004 tabletop Bluetooth entertainment system features stereo Bluetooth, FM tuner with 20 memory presets, dual wide-range speakers, USB input, MicroSD card slot, remote control and aux in. The two speakers ship at the end of January.
For on-the-go use, Naxa is launching the Bluetooth NPB757 CD portable stereo with FM, 20 station presets, USB input, aux input, dual speakers and AC/DC operation at a projected suggested $59.
Nyne Multimedia is coming to International CES with its first tabletop products equipped with Apple’s new Lightning connector.
The N-29 clock radio at a suggested $169 features 8-pin Lightening dock to charge and play music from docked iPods, iPhones and iPads. It also features 3.5mm stereo aux-in, stereo Bluetooth, AM/FM tuner with six presets, S-Video output, dual acoustic-suspension speakers, and dual alarm to wake up to Apple devices, FM or alarm tones. It ships in April.
The $149 NB-240 is a portable AC/DC stereo- Bluetooth speaker with Bluetooth hands-free, 3.5mm aux in, dual 3-inch drivers in bass-reflex enclosure, digital signal processing, carrying handle, rechargeable lithium-ion battery and built-in microphone with advanced noise-cancellation. It ships in April.
Philips is launching a wireless multi-room-audio system that uses smartphones and PCs as music sources, and it is introducing Bluetooth speakers and Lightningequipped docking speakers.
Polk’s first streaming tabletop stereo speaker, the $599-suggested Woodbourne, boasts “near universal” connectivity.
Pure Audio is launching the first in a series of Jongo- series Bluetooth/Wi-Fi speakers and hi-fi adapters designed to create a wireless multi-room-audio system.
SoundFreaq is replacing its Bluetooth SoundPlatform stereo speaker with the $149-suggested Sound- Platform 2, which has the same-size footprint but offers enhanced bass, larger full-range stereo drivers, and new DSS (Dual System Streaming) ability. DSS allows for two Sound Platform 2 speakers to be paired together to work as separate left-right speakers.
Other new features include two USB charging ports on back to charge mobile phone and tablets, a universal tray that serves as a stand for any Bluetooth device, a rechargeable battery option, and a tone control to select a warm, bright or neutral tone.
Like before, the speaker features UQ3 soundfield widening processor, and FM, and 40-watt output.
It will be available in Target in February or March. The product is on display at the North Hall 4110 booth of Soundfreaq distributor at Noetic.
Voxx plans January availability of wireless multiroom- audio systems based on packages of Wi-Fiequipped tabletop AirPlay speakers bearing the Acoustic Research brand.
AR’s Stream wireless audio systems will be available in packages of two or three speakers to create a wireless multi-room-audio system at a suggested $399 for the two-speaker Stream2 package and $599 for the Stream3 package. Under the RCA brand, the $29-suggested RCA wireless dock clock radio (RC250) is the first in a series of products to incorporate Soundflow technology, which lets users place a smartphone or MP3 player on a pad on top of the device to amplify the portable device’s sound.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.