LAS VEGAS - At this year’s International CES, JBL hit the showroom floor with some new speakers and accessories catered to some of the most popular mobile devices on the market. The electronics manufacturer showcased its fresh lineup of Bluetooth speakers slated to launch this year that will pair nicely with Apple’s iPhone 5 and new set of iPads.
Spearheading JBL’s slew of sound accessories is the OnBeat Venue LT. This $199.95 Bluetooth speaker connects to Apple’s iPhone 5, iPad Mini or fourth generation iPad via the Lightning dock connector, which discreetly sits under a panel on the front of the device. This port folds in to the speaker’s body when not in use, allowing for a sleeker design. JBL appears to be playing up an appeal to mobile users, as its Venue LT sound system is compatible with an app that lets listeners adjust the sound’s EQ. Users can also add presets for various genre, create playlists, and view album art, a JBL representative said. The Venue LT’s Bluetooth audio streaming is powered by Harman’s Truestream Tech, and the sound system is available in black, white or silver. Check out our hands-on review of the OnBeat Venue here.
In the same vein, JBL also unveiled its OnBeat Micro and Mini, which are smaller, more compact iterations of the OnBeat brand. These speakers share a similar appearance, and look like a round, circular base that charges your device while you listen. It comes packed with JBL’s full-range transducers, digital signal processing, both battery and AC power options, a USB port that allows for compatibility with older iPhone models, and a 3.66 mm stereo auxiliary input jack. JBL has touted its OnBeat Micro and Mini as speakers tailored to fit in tight quarters at home or in the office, while the Venue LT is well suited for spacious areas. The OnBeat Mini will retail for $149 and is slated for a March debut, while the Micro will sell for $99.95.
Another flagship Lighting-based product from JBL this year is the OnBeat Rumble. While the previous speaker sets are adept for the casual listener, the Rumble packs a massive four and a half-inch subwoofer into its body. It radiates 50 watts of power from its orange visor-like speaker, and is aimed at those who have a knack for customization. The sound system is compatible with a DJ mixer app from the Apple store that lets users scratch and mix custom playlists when an iOS device is connected via Bluetooth. The OnBeat Rumble is expected to launch this spring and will be available for $399.
In addition to launching speakers catered to new Apple products, JBL will also be releasing portable sound systems in different flavors. The Charge, a tiny speaker measuring two inches wide by six inches long, connects to smartphones, portable MP3 players and tablets. Like the company’s other CES offerings, the Charge boasts wireless Bluetooth streaming and features a USB port for charging. The cylindrical sound system comes packed with a built-in bass port and digital sound processing and a 2 x 5 watt amplifier. According to JBL, it provides 12 hours of audio playback from a single charge. The company is straying from its traditional color options here by offering the Charge in bright tones such as blue and orange, unlike its Onbeat series. No precise release date has been announced, but JBL says users should see the Charge sometime in the first quarter of 2013 at a price of $149.
JBL’s Flip may be one of the most impressive portable speakers we’ve seen at CES. It’s small and compact just like the Charge, but the design is a bit more slim and simple. The Flip, which comes in black or white color variants, boasts Bluetooth streaming, a built-in microphone and a rechargeable eight hour battery embedded in its body. In addition to winning a 2013 CES Innovations award, iLounge has named the Flip as Speaker of the Year and Accessory of the Year. While the speaker comes packed with two high-performance drivers and a dedicated bass port, the slim design is really what seems most appealing here.
This is only a sample of what JBL had to offer on the chaotic CES showroom floor, and we’ll be sure to get some hands-on reviews of these sound systems in the near future.
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