It's official. Aside from letting loose its first set of headphones post-Monster for the Executive types, Beats Electronics has set its sights on nabbing the portable Bluetooth audio crown from Jawbone's Jambox. You'll recall this hitting the FCC a bit ago, but today the Dr. is officially ready to offer you his remedy for on-the-go wireless audio with the $200 Pill, an NFC-equipped portable Bluetooth 2.1 speaker. Coming in your choice red, black or white, the cylindrical system is loaded with a quartet of 1-inch drivers, and supports codecs including Apt-X and AAC. An internal battery is said to provide about seven hours of listening at around 75-percent volume (80 decibels), and the unit can be charged via its Micro-USB input. Notably, an auto-off feature turns the unit off after 30 minutes if no audio is streamed to it. As you'd expect, the Pill features a front-facing on-board mic for use as a speakerphone, physical volume buttons and power button, as well as a 3.5mm input if you'd like to play sans Bluetooth. We're also pleased to notice that the diminutive system also features a 3.5 output if you'd like to send the audio out to another audio ware. The Pill comes with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, a USB to Micro-USB cable for charging with an included wall adapter and, lastly, a carrying shell case that can be hooked to a bag.
We've been able to spend about an hour with the system, and we've frankly come away very impressed. The unit feels very sturdy, with a stiff metal grille and soft-touch coating around the rest of its exterior. It feels very comfortable to hold in a hand, and will easily fit in a jacket pocket. Actually, one of our only initial complaints is that the included carrying shell doesn't leave any room for the included cables. All of the buttons have a soft, slightly clicky tactility, which also aids to its premium feel. Using it initially alongside one of Beats' on-hand Jamboxes in a wired A/B comparison, the Jambox came out sounding like a distorted, rumbling mess up against the Pill -- we even had a rep bring out a second unit confirm that it wasn't a dud. If that wasn't enough, the Pill also managed to get much louder, staying fairly clean (in comparison), and without rumbling on the table as the Jambox did very slightly. As a triple-check measure, we later came up with a similar outcome with our in-house unit of Logitech's $99 UE mobile boombox -- a speaker we find comparable in sound, if slightly better, than the Jambox.
Beats by Dre Pill portable Bluetooth speaker (hands-on)See all photos
In what could be viewed as slightly ironic, the Pill has a voicing that edges toward the flatter side of things, rather than pumping out exorbitant amounts of bass. It's not to say that it can't reproduce bass at all, it's just not the focus here. This flatter output seems to be a big part of what keeps it from distorting, but we should be clear, that the audio here is many times better still on the Pill. Pleasantly, the speakers are also angled up slightly, which makes for a noticeably more natural listening experience. Our only other concern for the time being is that the Bluetooth connection with our iPhone 5 did crackle occasionally like a vinyl record, but it's too early to say if the issue will be consistent during future use. We're still a ways off from being able to definitively give you a thumbs up on the Pill, but -- at least, initially, it seems like it's easily blowing the Jambox and similar speakers out of the water. Like the Executive headphones, the Pill is available today at Beats stores and other retailers -- check out our video hands-on after the break for a better look.
BEATS ELECTRONICS SETS NEW STANDARD IN WIRELESS SPEAKERS WITH INTRODUCTION OF THE "BEATS PILL"
The Company Also Officially Unveils The "Executive" Premium Headphone With Focus on Quality, Comfort, and Design
New York- Tuesday, October 16, 2012- Beats Electronics LLC, the leading audio brand co-founded by legendary artist and producer Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine, today announced the expansion of the company's global product offering with the introduction of the Beats Pill, a portable wireless speaker with built-in patented Beats Audio, and the Executive premium headphones. Beats currently owns over 56% of the $100+ premium headphone market in North America according to data from NPD, and these two new products will continue to raise the bar across form, function, design and most importantly, sound quality.
"The introduction of the Beats Pill and the Executive is the perfect beginning to a truly autonomous Beats as we transform into a freestanding consumer electronics company this year, " said Beats By Dr. Dre President & COO, Luke Wood. "These products demonstrate our total commitment to design, technological innovation and premium sound experience."
Introducing The Beats By Dr. Dre Beats Pill Wireless Speaker
At Beats, sound is king. From the placement of the drivers to the materials of the grill, the Beats Pill is specifically designed to optimize sound quality and maximize volume. The Beats Pill is the first product to be fully integrated with the company's patented Beats Audio algorithm and also features exclusive speaker modules to provide the highest quality portable listening experience.
The Beats Pill is also the first wireless speaker to hit store shelves with tap-to-pair NFC and apt-X technology for easy and instant Bluetooth audio. More features include:
• All call functions - including speakerphone when paired with your smartphone
• Four speaker system with Beats unique sound profile
• Rechargeable lithium ion battery provides 7 hours of continuous play
• AC Power adapter with USB receptacle for charging
• Auto shut-off after 30 minutes of no signal detection in order to conserve battery life
• 3.5mm line out for connection to an external speaker system
• Built-in mic for hands free conferencing
• Echo cancellation for call clarity and feedback control
• 8 Bluetooth profiles
The Beats Pill will be available in the Beats by Dr. Dre signature colors black, white and red with additional color options coming soon. The Beats Pill retails for $199 and is available today at The Beats Store as well as authorized Beats resellers and will also be available at HYPERLINK "http://www.beatsbydre.com/"www.beatsbydre.com.
Introducing The Beats By Dr. Dre Executive Headphones
The Executive represents a new distinctive, sophisticated design for the Beats By Dr. Dre brand that focuses on craftsmanship using premium materials such as aluminum alloy, stainless steel and leather. The soft leather headband and comfortable ear cups are designed for long wear and a unique folding design make Beats Executive headphones easy to carry on-the-go. The Executive has superior Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) performance, tuned for uninterrupted listening enjoyment at 35,000 feet and everywhere in between and with the iOS compatible microphone cable, it offers full phone functionality including answer/end, call waiting, call switching and voice command.
The Executive comes in a classic silver and retails for $299. The Executive line of headphones is currently available for purchase at the Beats Store, authorized Beats resellers, as well as at HYPERLINK "http://www.beatsbydre.com/"www.beatsbydre.com.
Additionally, Today Beats Electronics is expanding its in-ear product offering with the launch of the new urBeats. These new earphones were specifically designed to be a substantial upgrade from the headphones that come with your music player: more durability, better sound, and a chance to do real justice to your music. urBeats provide the premium sound quality that has become synonymous with the Beats by Dr. Dre brand.
The new urBeats earphones are available in Black, White and Gunmetal and retail for $99.