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.