Archives For Audio


After two years of buildup, it seems a Sonos home theater solution is nearly upon us. The “Playbar”, as uncovered via a number of FCC filings, has been kicking around their labs since at least June. While it’s not entirely clear what the Playbar is, we’re hoping it’s more soundbar and less Jambox – to complement my new Panasonic HDTV. If our assumptions are correct, the Playbar would also benefit from the room filling wireless Sonos Sub ($700) — meaning this wouldn’t be a budget system. But, for many, the versatility of Sonos’ whole home audio is priceless. Continue Reading…

Jawbone Jambox

It’s been a while since I bothered with any Bluetooth accessories, but this year’s Christmas gift of a Jawbone Jambox has me back on the bandwagon. The portable speaker pairs via Bluetooth or connector cable to any phone, computer, tablet, etc. I tried mine out this evening with my smartphone, and the wireless connection was a cinch to configure. Once I set my phone to discover the Jambox, and clicked the speaker’s side switch to the up position, the two devices were ready to pair. One more button push on top of the Jambox, and speaker and smartphone were automatically hitched.

As Dave has written before, the Jambox is convenient both for playing tunes, and as a speakerphone for conference calls. Given how often I do both, it’s the perfect accessory for my work-at-home life. My personal Jambox is blue, but the speaker also comes in black, grey and red. Amazon has the Jambox on sale now for $150.

From the spec sheet:

  • Dimensions: 5.95 x 2.25 x 1.6 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Output capacity: 85 decibels
  • Battery life: about 10 hours of continuous play
  • USB: microUSB for charging
  • Stereo input: standard 3.5mm jack

Continue Reading…


Out looking for a couch, we swung by the neighboring Bang & Olufsen whilst percolating our seating options.  And, boy, were we wooed by B&O’s relatively new BeoPlay A3. Labeling this product an iPad “dock” doesn’t do it justice — not to mention, we hear the dock is dead. This BeoPlay is basically a speaker chasis for your iPad, that kindly integrates a 6-hour rechargeable battery. While B&O is quick to point out the audio quality (3 tweeters, 1 woofer) of this device, being shallow, I’m most impressed by its good looks… with flush tablet fit and multiple display orientations/positions. The A3 ships with two iPad sleeves (to account for all three iPad generations) and, when mated with a tablet, easily pops out of the device using the B&O button on the rear. This would make the most killer kitchen TV. But I’d prefer a few more color options. And perhaps a lower price of entry… At $549, it’s more costly than many iPads it would encase. No one said looking good is economical.


If the FCC is any indication, JBL’s compact “Soundfly” Bluetooth speaker should be hitting store shelves in short order. Unlike the rechargeable and portable Jawbone Jambox ($200), the Soundfly essentially mounts directly onto an AC outlet. I can’t imagine the Soundfly produces killer audio given its diminutive stature, but could make a nice kitchen or travel accessory for streaming tunes from our smartphones… Assuming it clocks in at a reasonable price point. And, related to cost, I’m hoping for the best as JBL has dropped Apple AirPlay capabilities (with associated licensing fees) since printing up their CES flyer (which had indicated a “spring” launch).

Slacker on Roku 1

As of today, the streaming music service Slacker is an official channel in the Roku Channel Store. If you have a Roku box and a Slacker account (you can get a basic one for free), all you have to do is add the channel from the Roku channel menu, log in with Slacker, and you’re ready to go. The service works in both the U.S. and Canada.

When the press release crossed my inbox this afternoon, I went straight to my own Roku XR, added the Slacker channel, and signed in with my account. Other than a couple of attempts at trying to remember my password, it was an easy set-up. The interface is basic, but it does the job, and I had immediate access to my custom pre-sets and playlists in addition to Slacker’s genre-based stations.

To some extent, the Roku is a silly platform for Slacker given the lack of visual elements. Continue Reading…


TiVo isn’t the only game in town when it comes to merging subscription television with Internet content via a set-top. And DISH Network is next in line to offer Pandora music streaming from their new Hopper, whole-home DVR. It’s the same Pandora you know and love – create or sign into an account and stream personalized “radio” stations. For now it’s just the Hopper hub with access, but Joey extender support is expected in June and DISH tells me they’re looking at possibly bringing tunes to the ViP 922. If you don’t have DISH, DirecTV and Verizon are other providers who offer Pandora. Which, I suppose, is less threatening to their business model than say Netflix access.


First spotted via FCC filings in February, it looks as if Jawbone’s unannounced Big Jambox is nearing release. Presumably the Big Jambox is exactly that – a larger version of the original, that continues to provide both Bluetooth speaker and speakerphone capabilities. Best Buy’s cached product listing reveals Jawbone’s update clocks in at $299.99 and 2.8 lbs. While I appreciate my orinal Jambox as a mobile accessory, at this size and weight, without AirPlay capabilities, I’d probably opt for another Sonos Play:3 in lieu of a Big Jambox. However, if you find yourself more intrigued than I, it shouldn’t be too long before a release date and color palette will be formally announced.

(Thanks, Adam!)


The latest Jawbone Insiders survey appears to foreshadow a Jambox smartphone app:

Imagine if there was an app for your smartphone that added features and controls for your Jambox…

Jawbone is floating all sorts of features from the proposed app including audible sports scores, firmware update notifications, reading of text messages, and email & Facebook notifications. Given Apple’s iOS lockdown, some of this functionality doesn’t seem as likely on the iPad or iPhone as it would on Android devices.

Of course, the Jambox is a compact and stylish Bluetooth accessory that already connects to one’s handset (or other devices) as both an audio speaker or speakerphone. Pricing seems a bit steep, retailing for $200, which is why I opted for a $130 refurb. I’ve been relatively pleased with its performance, but don’t always remember to plug it in for charging — and would appreciate any Jambox 2 include a dock of some sort as iHome provides with the iW1. And it’s one reason why I voted for the potential smartphone app to include a battery indicator.