Beats has long been known for trendy and hip products, and their popularity is readily reflected by the number of Beats headsets you'll see on the streets as well as the rising number of celebrities you see endorsing their products. 2012 saw the brand take on portable speakers, and the trend continues with this year's updates, which seem to focus on connectivity and convenience.
The Pill retains its physical appearance with this update, with its quad-speaker set-up featuring prominently. While it remains about the same size as the original, the Pill 2.0 adds the ability to charge devices through its internal lithium battery, and will go for up to 15 hours on a single charge. NFC capabilities are added for easier device pairing, and it uses Bluetooth 2.1 technology to allow a wireless connection of up to 30 feet. We were told you could pair up to unlimited devices, but the NFC based connection only works for up to a pair. There’s a neat trick here though: tapping two Pill 2.0s together twice enables its stereo function, so one will act as the left channel and the other the right.
You can also change tracks from the Pill 2.0, or make calls with it using the internal microphone. At 45mm in height, 190mm in length and weighing just 310g, the Pill 2.0 is definitely portable, and it comes with a 15-hour lithium battery that shuts off after 10 minutes of no signal input. Available now from all authorized retailers in Red, Black, White, Silver and Blue for S$310.
Next up was the Beats Pill XL. As the name implies, it’s a much larger version of the Pill 2.0 (338 x 104 x 104mm), and it shares the same capabilities of being able to recharge external USB devices as well as audio playback in stereo if you pair it with an additional device. It’s designed with a handle in the back for easier carrying. While it's designed to be portable, it weighs about 1.5kg, so it's a fair bit heavier than the Pill 2.0. Fortunately, it seems to have a decent battery capacity that's rated as having up to 15 hours of continuous play and we do appreciate the handle design integrated into the Pill XL which makes it easy to pick up with one hand and go. Again, the Pill XL features a built-in microphone that allows for hands-free calling, and the auto-off function will shut it down automatically if it goes for ten minutes without being connected to a source.
Retails now at all authorized retailers in Black for S$490.
This we felt was quite a misnomer, because at 4kg in weight, 171mm in height and about 320mm in width, it’s not exactly the easiest to move around. We suppose the main reason for its name is that it can operate without a power point. The Beatbox Portable gives 8 hours of playback on 6 D-sized batteries, and a cable for plugging into a regular power supply
What is undeniable though, is that you get big sound out of these speakers. It’s wireless and cordless, and the Bluetooth connection supports SBC and Apt-X for high-quality streaming, while it supports playback of MP3 and AAC media content. There’s no longer an iPhone dock on the top; connection is now via NFC or Bluetooth..
It retails now at all authorized retailers in Black and White for S$620.
Beats Studio now goes wireless! It features a 30-feet range, precision sound through the DSP software, and control buttons on the ear cup that allows you to switch tracks, adjust volume, and answer phone calls without having to pull out your smartphone. You’ll probably have to take a while to get used to where the controls are though, as they aren’t marked on the cups themselves. As with the wired versions, the Studio Wireless features Adaptive Noise Cancellation (ANC), and only work when the noise cancellation is switched on. What is new though is that Beats has done away with the option to use "AAA" batteries, instead including a rechargeable battery that gives you up to 12 hours of wireless use, and up to 20 hours if you use a cable to connect to your music source. The ear cups seem to be made of slightly softer material, and the headphones themselves are constructed to be extremely flexible and pliant, twisting and bending without breaking.
The Beats Studio Wireless is available now in black at all authorized retailers for S$590.
The Beats Wireless feature a 30-feet range, and playback controls on the ear cup, but these are embossed on the side, which makes them easier to find (in our opinion). It's rated at ten hours of battery life on a single charge, but we're told you'll get about 12 hours of playback if you use it with the cable in, and around 7 hours of playback on wireless. It also includes an internal rechargeable lithium battery which charges from any USB port. Like the Beats Studio above, the Beats Wireless have been redesigned to be extremely flexible and pliant.
Available in Black, White, Red, Blue and Silver now at all authorized retailers for S$420.