Archives For Audio

amazon-echo

So the big news is that Amazon Echo is now available for all to purchase, with a July 14th ETA. And, instead of going mass market at $200 as originally presented, it arrives at an even more palatable $180 (having dropped the physical remote). Considering a decent Bluetooth speaker could run that much or more, the voice-controlled, multi-function Echo is really a fantabulous deal when you consider all it offers.

When originally introduced as an Amazon Prime exclusive in limited numbers for $99, I picked up two. Back then, it didn’t do a whole lot — it was largely a silo-ed experience that I mainly used as a voice-controlled alarm clock and iHeartRadio terminal. But the product team has been iterating at a furious pace, bringing native Pandora, Hue control (!), and Audible integration… with promises of more to come and a developer SDK.

Continue Reading…

Sonos CEO: ‘We would embrace Apple Music’

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By way of a pulled Apple Store listing, it appears we’ll soon see an addition to the Ultimate Ears Boom speaker line in the form of a new UE Boom “Roll” — the design is clearly flatter and disc shaped, with an integrated lanyard. We were delighted with the original UE Boom when reviewed back in July and this update brings a smaller form factor with fresh styling to the line, perhaps competing with the newly announced Bose SoundLink Mini II. The Apple Store’s specs and pricing were somewhat suspect… as they closely resemble those of the Boom. So we’re just going to have to stay tuned for more info from Logitech Ultimate Ears.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  June 5, 2015 — 10 Comments

insteon-fail

Insteon’s Apple HomeKit-compatible hub drops support for many Insteon products.
So will the new Hub Pro eventually support the same devices currently supported by the product formerly known as the Hub II? We don’t know. Insteon’s not saying. We have to imagine that this is not what long-time Insteon users expected or hoped for.

DISH and T-Mobile flirt with the idea of a merger… but Ergen doesn’t always seal the deal.
Mr. Ergen envisions selling bundles of video and wireless service to better compete with cable and telecom rivals who are banking on their broadband businesses for growth. Mr. Ergen has had near brushes on deals with MetroPCS, Clearwire, Sprint, Hulu and DirecTV, and in each case, he walked away empty-handed.

Amazon Echo does what Sonos can’t with native Audible streaming.
Since Amazon owns Aubilde, there’s no account linking or setup required. Simply say “Alexa, read [book title]” to begin listening to a book in your library, or say “Alexa, read my book” to continue listening to your most recent audiobook.

New 800 Lumens Philips Hue bulb incoming?

Get Two Free Audible Books

Dave Zatz —  March 3, 2015

audible-trialAmazon’s Audible is currently running a nice promotion — 2 free titles of your choosing, with no further commitment. Of course, they hope you’ll stick around beyond 30 days, at which point a $14.95 monthly fee kicks in. But, it could be well worth it assuming the same “Gold” plan I’m on. Beyond 1 credit/book per month, I also receive NYT and WSJ daily. Audible is supported by a variety of apps and platforms; I generally stream iPhone to car speakers over Bluetooth, although downloads are also an option… to overcome the glaring absence of Sonos integration.

Details:

  • Includes two free audiobooks with your free trial.
  • Choose from 150,000+ best sellers, new releases sci-fi, romances, mysteries, classics, and more.
  • After 30 days, get 1 book each month, $14.95/month
  • Cancel easily anytime. Your books are yours to keep, even if you cancel.

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While our home has hosted a pair of Amazon Echo ($99-199) connected-speakers-with-benefits for several weeks, I’ve yet to write much. As my thoughts continue to coalesce, Amazon just hit me with news of an update. Joining the existing I Heart Radio and Amazon Prime voice-controlled apps are Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes. However, whereas I Heart Radio and and Prime Music are native apps that live solely within Echo and the cloud, these newcomers stream to Echo via a Bluetooth-connected iPhone or Android. The addition of voice for transport controls is surely nice-to-have, but it’s not in the same league by requiring another device in the mix and without being able to verbally summon a specific artist or playlist as I do with Prime Heart. Continue Reading…

Sonos Headed To Android Wear

Dave Zatz —  October 31, 2014
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Photo by Robert

By way of the official Sonos forums, we learn that the connected audio company is currently beta testing a variety of mobile software improvements… including the ability to control Sonos from an Android Wear smart watch like the Moto 360. Shown in the Notification Drawer, pause, forward, and back functions are available while volume controls are not. Further, we have indications that a long overdue iOS lock screen widget is similarly en route for iPad and iPhone owners. No word yet on Microsoft band support. ;)

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Intro

Back in March, Plantronics announced the BackBeat Fit ($130), a sportier version of their Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth headphones designed to withstand the abuse of regular fitness workouts (and confirmed sweaty lawn mowing! :-). I’ve been evaluating these headphones the past few weeks and wanted to share a rundown of features and my overall opinion.

Product Info

When you unpack the BackBeat Fits, they come with the headphones themselves, a carrying pouch that doubles as an armband for your phone, and a micro USB cable and charger. The headphones use Bluetooth 3.0 for connectivity which gives you a range of 33ft from your device. As with most new Bluetooth devices, the pairing process was easy with an iPhone 5s. You simply go to the Bluetooth setting page, turn on the BackBeat Fit which goes into pairing mode, and then select the headphones to pair. The BackBeat fit can also remember up to 8 different devices for pairing so it’s easy to switch between multiple sources if needed. Continue Reading…