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New Bluetooth Speakers Not Just For The Birds

Bluetooth speaker systems aren’t just for the birds.

Parrott and Blue Raven are squawking about their new Bluetooth speakers, but so is Altec Lansing.

Parrot is expanding its selection of Bluetooth-equipped home speaker systems to five from three with launch of two systems in the second quarter of 2008. Blue Raven ships its first models beginning Dec. 1. Altec Lansing plans November shipments of its first Bluetooth speaker.

The companies cite the proliferation of Bluetooth-equipped MP3-cellphones and Bluetooth dongles that add wireless-transmitting capability to iPods and MP3 players.

Blue Raven’s first two Bluetooth speakers are amplified bookshelf speakers with embedded stereo Bluetooth: the $199-suggested Maestro 2020 and $299-suggested Maestro 2040, each shipping now with IR remote, aux input and video output for display of cellphone- or iPod-stored video. The two-way biamplified speakers are rated at 20 watts and 40 watts total, respectively.

Blue Raven’s Bluetooth speakers join a pair of Maestro bookshelf speakers with embedded iPod dock, at a suggested $169 and $229, and a one-piece Maestro iPod speaker system with embedded dock at $199.

At Parrot, the company plans a one-piece tabletop system and a speaker pair. The single-chassis DS3120 tabletop system, retailing for a suggested $249, operates on AC or six C batteries, is the company’s first Bluetooth speaker system with FM tuner and with front-panel USB port and memory card slot to play back music on USB drives and memory cards. The 5.8-inch by 11.5-inch by 3.9-inch system incorporates MP3, WMA and AAC decoders to play back music stored on an SD/MMC card and USB drives. The USB port can also be used to connect USB-equipped devices such as MP3 players and iPods.

Other features include built-in microphone to provide hands-free speaker phone functionality for a cellphone. The system also incorporates FM tuner, alarm clock, 1.8-inch front-panel LCD, 3.5mm input jack and 20-watt Class D amplifier.

The front-panel LCD displays music metadata as well as the contact lists of Bluetooth cellphones, the company said. When cellphone music is playing and a call is received, the 3120 will automatically mute the music and display caller ID information and display a photo caller ID picture. Six C batteries deliver 10 hours of playback time.

Parrot’s $279-suggested DS1120, on the other hand, is an AC-only speaker system consisting of two small tube-shaped amplified speakers with 30 watts of total power, bass ports in their feet, touch-sensitive controls on top and 3.5mm input jack for connecting non-Bluetooth audio sources. A USB dongle is also supplied for use with music sources lacking built-in Bluetooth.

The 1120 will join a pair of larger Bluetooth speakers rated at a total of 60 watts. Other Bluetooth speakers in the line include a $449-suggested pair of bookshelf speakers, the one-piece tabletop “Boombox” speaker system at $279 and a handheld DC-powered Parrot Party.

For its part, Altec Lansing has shipped its $129-suggested iMT521 SoundBlade Bluetooth speaker system to AT&T Wireless stores. The vertically oriented flat-panel speaker, measuring 6.1 by 11.1 by 1 inches, features two 2.5-inch full-range drivers and a built-in echo-canceling microphone for wireless speakerphone capability and for voice dialing. It can be powered by AC or AA batteries.

Other features include SRS Trubass technology to deliver deep bass. Controls on the speaker will control a phone’s music functions, and the phone can be used as a remote to control speaker functions.