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Suppliers Expand Bluetooth Speaker Lines

NEW YORK – Braven and Jabra have expanded their portable Bluetooth speaker selections in a market that has grown at triple-digit percentage rates in units and dollars so far this year.

The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service found retail-level unit sales of Bluetooth-only speakers, excluding Bluetooth-equipped speakers with docking pins, rose 379 percent for the year through August on a dollar gain of 213 percent.

To take advantage of the growth, Braven expanded its selection of portable Bluetooth speakers with its lowest-priced model to date, the $89 Braven 440. Digital Treasures unveiled a $49 PowerBall mono speaker. And Jabra is expanding its selection to three models with the Solemate Max, which will be the company’s highest-price model to date and be available through Dell and Amazon in the fourth quarter.

Jabra didn’t announce pricing on its new model, but its two other portable Bluetooth speakers are the updated $199 SoleMate and the $99 Solemate Mini. The Mini is available in black, with additional color options coming soon, the company said. The updated Solemate will be available in a couple of weeks.

All three Jabra models feature nearfield communications (NFC) for tap-to-pair functionality, a ruggedized design for outdoor use, and hands-free speakerphone capability.

The new model, available in gray, will be larger than its counterparts, at 11.9 inches by 4 inches by 5.4 inches, and feature a longer battery life of 14 hours of music playback compared with eight and 10 hours for the other models. The Soulmate Max also adds Bluetooth AVRCP.

Other Max features include stereo drivers, Bluetooth 3.0, 3.5mm aux in and USB port to stream music from a USB-connected computer. IT also features Dolby-developed audio-enhancement technology, also available in the Solemate.

Braven expanded its portable Bluetooth selection to seven models with the $89 Braven 440, making it the company’s new opening-price model. The company’s previous opening price point was $119 for the 570, which is still in the line. The line tops out at $299.

The new model is the smallest in the lineup and the second with IPX5 water resistance. Another model offers IPX3 water resistance. Like four other Braven models, it is available in multiple colors.

Braven 440 features include 12 hours of continuous playback, built-in speakerphone, Bluetooth 2.1 and 3.5mm aux in.

At a lower price point, Digital Treasures launched the $49 mono Power- Ball, a diamond-cut round speaker that fits in the palm of a hand. It features 40mm driver, 1.6-watt RMS output, 12- hour battery life and a door that covers the driver for protection. It comes with pause/play and volume buttons, charging LED indicators and choice of multiple colors. It’s available on the company’s website.