This little outdoor speaker supplants JBL’s popular Charge 2 and sells at the same price: $149.95 USD. It’s available in black, gray, blue, teal, or red, and has a waterproof rating of IPX7, which means you can briefly but fully immerse it in water. It also plays loud, which makes it great for outdoor or poolside parties, and several Charge 3s can be paired for even greater SPLs. A free JBL app lets a pair of Charge 3s play in true stereo.
After my discovery last month of quality headphones from Koss for $49.99 USD, I decided to investigate Altec’s MZX300 Bluetooth headphones, which retail for only $39.99.
Koss Corporation’s UR42i over-ear headphones cost $49.99 USD. That price is unbelievably low for a set of serious cans, but the veteran headphone maker has often proved that inexpensive ’phones don’t have to sound inexpensive. I was curious to hear if the UR42i’s would be more proof.
Altec Lansing has a long and distinguished history -- the company was founded in 1936, before I was born, and I remember their speakers from my college days. The subject of this review, the Mini Lifejacket 2 ($99.99 USD), is only the tip of an iceberg -- Altec Lansing makes eight models of Jacket Bluetooth speakers, from the Mini H20 ($39.99) to the Omni Jacket Ultra and the Super Life Jacket (both $299.99).
Expect the unexpected from Grace Digital and you’ll never be disappointed. Hot on the heels of their EcoPebble Bluetooth speaker-powerbank-flashlight, which I reviewed last month, comes another waterproof powerbank combo -- but this one’s solar powered.
I remember when 10 to 12 hours of battery charge time was considered a lot -- and that was only two or three years ago. Now we’re seeing mind-boggling charge times, even for small devices. The EcoPebble Powerbank can easily be held in the hand, yet boasts a 50-hour charge time -- a helpful thing, because it’s designed to charge your other devices. It’s also a Bluetooth speaker and a 200-lumen LED flashlight.
Thanks largely to Google’s Cast system, Wi-Fi speakers are rapidly replacing Bluetooth models. Wi-Fi units use your wireless network to transmit sound, and since they’re not subject to the data-transfer limitations of Bluetooth transmission, they have the capability to provide better performance. The Grace Digital CastDock X2 is rated to handle music files up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution.
Lately, it seems, I’ve reviewed nothing but over-ear headphones, which have become lightweight enough to be serious contenders in the portable-headphone market. Still, on-ear cans have some features that appeal more to people on the go; because they block out fewer external sounds, they let you have birds with your Bach -- and they’re safer to wear when you’re out and about. Wearing over-ear ’phones, you can get so wrapped up in the music that you can’t hear that quiet car approaching from the rear. On-ear models can also be cooler and more comfortable to wear over long periods.
I hadn’t heard much about Acoustic Research in a long time, though the name was very familiar. When I was in college, every other student who was on a budget but appreciated great sound had Acoustic Research AR-3 bookshelf speakers. These used an acoustic-suspension design that produced amazing amounts of bass from a small box. Then AR produced an affordable ($78!), high-quality turntable, the AR-1 -- a belt-driven design that greatly reduced acoustic feedback. Since then, AR speakers and turntables have only appreciated in value, as collectors continue to seek them out.
The first pair of headphones I ever owned were Sennheisers, back when the German company’s main competitor was the US manufacturer Koss. Many competitors and multitudes of headphones later, I was happy to check out Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless Bluetooth circumaural (over-ear) model -- noise-canceling ’phones that can be used with or without wires. The noise-canceling feature is always on. The Momentum’s price of $499.95 USD is a bit higher than those of many competing products. There are also Momentum models in an on-ear wireless version, and wired over- and on-ear versions.