Archives For Audio


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.

Sirius XM 2.0 Comes To iOS

Dave Zatz —  December 12, 2011

The promised SiriusXM 2.0 experience looks to have arrived. At least on iOS platforms, such as my iPhone. While the satellite radio provider has always provided access to a broad range of programming, they’re now delivering the sort of end-user control typically provided by online streaming services like Pandora or Slacker. SiriusXM’s first cut is also online, versus the airwaves, but rumor has it upcoming automotive radio hardware will be similaly equipped – leveraging Internet connections via car or cellphone in some way. And it’s these types of digital features that extend their competitive edge (for a fee) over traditional terrestrial radio.

Regarding the features themselves, as you can see above, “Start Now” is the headliner which allows you to join a radio show in progress… yet listen from the beginning. Likewise, “TuneStart” means you’ll join a Channel mid-song. Perhaps most compelling are the new abilities to pause programming and skip tracks, both backwards and forwards. Although, there does appear to be a limit of skips per channel within a given time frame.

Now that we’ve concluded giving thanks for family and turkey, the time is upon us to give thanks for retail indulgence. We’re not entirely convinced it’s truly is better to give than to receive, but we know how to kill two birds with one stone by gifting oneself. So regardless of gadget beneficiary here are a few compelling deals of the day running under $100:

Barnes & Noble Simple Touch Reader ($79)

A mere two weeks ago, Barnes & Noble’s compelling e-reader would have run you $139. Yet, they dropped the price to $99 upon the introduction of Amazon’s competing Kindle Touch. And today, brick & mortar locations are hawking the Simple Touch for just $79. Not only is it $20 cheaper than Amazon’s touchscreen e-Ink offering, it’s also ad-free. Beyond that, the Simple Touch Reader features better ergonomics due to the sculpted rear and physical page turn buttons… with more panache than Amazon manages. Possible downsides are the cream colored trim of this special edition that may show grime and of course many prefer Amazon’s ecosystem.

Slingbox SOLO ($99.99)

Slingbox SOLO hardware has been around for sometime. And while I wouldn’t mind a more compact form featuring integrated WiFi, it’s still probably the best placeshifting experience money can buy. As a quick refresher, hook a Slingbox up to your home DVR or set-top box to stream that video around the house or around the world to a variety, including desktop web browsers and smartphones ($30). The SOLO retails for $180 and can often be had for less… but we’ve never seen it for a low of $100 as it is today and tomorrow at Best Buy and Continue Reading…


Within the next few weeks, Logitech intends to join the AirPlay fray with their aerodynamic Air Speaker.

At its most basic, when talking audio, Apple’s wireless streaming protocol is conceptually similar conceptually to Bluetooth — beam your music from one device to another. However, as AirPlay rides ones wireless network, it’s not limited to the same short distances as Bluetooth (~30 feet) and more complex interactions are supported. From Apple:

AirPlay does more than just stream your music to external speakers. It streams information about your music, too. Song titles, artists, album names, elapsed and remaining time, and album artwork all appear on AirPlay-enabled speakers with graphical displays. For the ultimate sonic panorama, you can stream your tunes to more than one room simultaneously, so you’ll never lose the beat, no matter where you are in the house.

We anticipate the Logitech Air Speaker will land at a similar price point as the recently released iHome iW1 ($300, reviewed here). Unfortunately, Logitech’s solution requires the speaker to be tethered to power at all times with no indication of a rechargeable battery. On the other hand, for those streaming and/or controlling AirPlay audio via an iPhone or iPad, Logitech kindly provides a “hideaway” dock for Speaker configuration… and iOS device charging.

Logitech has yet to release pricing or itemize the Speaker’s sonic capabilities, but their Amazon listing provides a few more nuggets of info: Continue Reading…

Slacker’s got a channel strategy. Yesterday, the streaming music company announced it’s made good on a deal with AOL to replace CBS Radio as the engine behind AOL Radio. On the face of it, the deal may not sound like much, but according to VP Jonathan Sasse, the new agreement could double the amount of content Slacker serves to its listeners. In addition, AOL is not likely to be a “one-off” deal. Sasse hints that we’ll probably see other, similar agreements in the coming months.

The partnership program is an interesting one because of how Slacker structures its relationships. Slacker technology is the engine behind all of its partners’ apps (the company struck a deal with AARP this summer too), but partners can bring their own targeted content with curated stations produced by their own DJs. In the case of AOL, there’s a mix of Slacker stations and AOL ones. Partners can also bundle the service in different ways. AOL is sticking with the Slacker model of offering one free version and two premium tiers (coming in November), but other partners may package their services differently.

I had a brief moment of panic thinking Slacker might be ending its own, beloved, direct-to-consumer business in favor of partner distribution, but Sasse assures me that’s not the case. The channel program is a complement to Slacker’s direct retail business, not a replacement. (Phew.)  Continue Reading…

Slacker’s got a new gig going with Aha Radio, and it’s taking the music streaming service somewhere it’s never gone before… into the car. According to the official press release, Slacker is partnering with Aha to get Slacker embedded in after-market car radios manufactured by Pioneer. Slacker execs have been hinting at a partnership like this for some time, and it’s a logical next step for the streaming service. In addition to Slacker’s curated and customizable radio stations, the Slacker Premium on-demand service makes a convenient car companion. Why jack in your iPod when your car stereo already has access to a much larger music library? Unless your tastes are exceedingly eclectic, chances are Slacker can cover you between its on-demand and streaming station options.

Since I upgraded this summer to a phone capable of supporting the Slacker service, I find I’m pretty well set for my mobile listening needs. But, if I were commuting the way I used to, a new car radio with Slacker would be tops on my wish list. Aha says it’s working with automotive and CE manufacturers toward product launches later this year and throughout 2012.

Bringing tech to the corn fields of the Midwest, gadgeteer and cat lover Adam Miarka contributes to Zatz Not Funny when the overlord allows. When not on ZNF, Adam posts pictures to and harasses the public from @adammiarka on Twitter.

Background and Initial Impressions

My new iHome iW1 AirPlay speaker system has arrived. And it’s probably one of the more anticipated AirPlay speakers to hit the market due to its portability. In fact, demand was so strong, the device was sold out within a half hour of going live on iHome’s site when it debuted August 31st. iHome took to Twitter and Facebook to calm those who didn’t get in on the initial launch, indicating a broader iW1 release on September 26th. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones.

As for an unboxing, the iW1 consists of the speaker, AC adapter, charging “dock”, remote control, and a set of instruction manuals. Upon first picking up the speaker, there is definitely some heft to the device – it doesn’t feel cheaply made at all and features a nice clean design. The instruction manuals are straight forward and easy to follow.

Click to enlarge:

Charging / Power

After I removed everything from the box, it was time to charge it. iHome has taken a unique approach to charging the iW1. Instead of having a plug and unplug the device, you simply remove it from the charging dock. Around the back of the speaker is a hidden handle to allow you to move the speaker easily from the dock.

Also around the back is a battery indicator button on the back which lights up the top panel of the device and shows the amount of battery left. Lastly, there is a power switch which can toggle the speaker’s power on and off. Continue Reading…