Smartphone users on the lookout for battery-powered wireless chargers, Bluetooth music players, and funky smart lights that bop to the beat will likely have to settle for a small collection of separates. There are devices that tick a couple of boxes, such as the Black Diamond III
or TDK's Wireless Charging Speaker
, but good luck finding one unit that does it all. If Justin Kaufman's new crowdfunding endeavor is successful, however, your quest might well be an easier one. The upper surface of his Glowdeck Bluetooth speaker system can charge the battery of any Qi-compatible device placed upon it using its own powerful battery or via a wall outlet, while the lights at the bottom flash to notify users of incoming calls or texts, or sync to the music being thrown out of the front-facing speakers.
Parrot, a company known for its high-end audio devices, has released a new entry in its Zikmu
line of wireless speakers. The new model, called the Zikmu Solo, features a 2.1 configuration, which is designed to generate high-performance sound quality without the need for two separate speakers.
Outdoor Technology has been growing its line of wireless audio products quite steadily. After success on Kickstarter, it launched its funky Turtle Shell speaker last year? It showed off several new wireless headphones and speakers at CE Week last month and is preparing to launch the Armadillo speaker, which doubles the size and intensity of the Turtle.
If you can find one, the new STA333IS digital audio chip and power amplifier from STMicroelectronics (STM) offers a quick and easy solution for converting digital audio into a 10 watt/channel stereo for anything from a boom box to a backyard sound system. Don't misunderstand, they currently are at distributors, selling for about one US dollar apiece. The problem is literally finding the chips. At about one-eighth the volume of a grain of rice and weighing only a few milligrams, drop one on a carpet and its gone for good.
Looking to attract some attention to its InfoComm and CE Week booths, Leon Speakers created a piece of functional artwork that it calls the sound sculpture. Not quite as dramatic as the company's original sound sculpture, a 16-foot (4.9-m) dragon revealed in 2010, but still intriguing in its own right, the new sound sculpture hangs on the wall, where it seeks to dazzle both the eyes and ears.
Though wireless speakers are certainly suggestive of music enjoyment in glorious stereo without getting tangled up in cables, the reality is often less than satisfactory. Take my trusty JBL Jembe Wireless speakers, for instance. Although Bluetooth-enabled, the two speakers are connected to each other by a cable, and there's yet another for power. There are speakers like the Dash 7
which pack a battery to offer extended periods of cable-free use, but such units house all of the speakers in one block. The TMI Stereo Speakers from Too Much Innovation take the best bits of both systems for what are claimed to be the only split wireless Bluetooth speakers (shortly to be) available.
Ensuring the dulcet tones of your keynote speaker reach every nook and cranny of a crowded conference room can be something of a challenge. Even perfectly-positioned box speakers and a powerful sound system might leave some guests wondering what exactly was said. Italian audio specialist K-array has come up with a distinctly bendy answer to the problem of placing speakers in those awkward, out of reach places. The Anakonda KAN200 is so flexible it can be wrapped around lamp stands or table legs, mounted to curved surfaces, or quite literally be tied in knots. It promises crisp, intelligible audio, and can be combined with other units to form one seamless sound line over 200 ft in length.
We've seen chairs with built-in sound like the like Ace Bayou's Wireless Audio Recliner
and the Gamepod chair
, but a new product called the SubPac aims to offer similar functionality in a lightweight, portable design. Essentially, the SubPac is like a subwoofer designed to make a user feel what he or she is listening to, instead of just hearing it.
There are lots of options for enjoying outdoor audio whatever the weather, including TDK's Wireless Weatherproof Speaker
, the Eco Terra Boombox
and Braven's Bluetooth speakers
. If you're looking for a permanent speaker installation, though, high-end audio specialist Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) says its new AM-1 Architectural Monitors are a little different from standard wall-mounted, weatherproof loudspeakers.