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Sonos announces new Beam sound bar featuring AirPlay 2 and Siri

Sonos has announced Beam, a new compact sound bar speaker that will feature support for AirPlay 2, Siri voice control, and Amazon Alexa, making it the first speaker to support more than one voice assistant. Designed to sit in front of your TV, Beam measures 25.6 inches in length, and is designed for streaming music, TV, movies, and game sound, with voice-activated volume control as well to allow for hands-free sound adjustment. Beam can be used as a standalone soundbar or integrated with other Sonos speakers to create a surround sound system and add a subwoofer. Support for HDMI ARC allows for simplified connection to a home theatre system, and an optical audio adapter is included for systems that don’t have ARC support over HDMI. Beam is available for pre-order today for $399 and expected to ship late next month. In addition, Sonos also announced that it will be the promised AirPlay 2 support for its existing speaker lineup beginning next month as well. [via MacRumors]

Withings to return after buying back digital health business from Nokia

Withings co-founded Eric Carreel has announced plans to resurrect his brand after buying the digital health business back from Nokia earlier this month. Engadget reports that the re-acquisition has been gone through, although terms were not disclosed, and Withings will be selling the existing staple of Nokia-branded health products for now — most of which were originally Withings products in the first place that were simply rebranded by Nokia — but plans to relaunch the Withings brand by the end of the year and continue developing new connected health products as well.

Scosche releases Rhythm24 Heart Rate Monitor

Scosche has released its new Rhythm24 waterproof armband heart rate monitor, the latest in its line of health and fitness accessories. Originally unveiled at CES in January, Rhythm24 builds on the company’s earlier Rhythm+ released back in 2014, with an expanded set of features and support for variable activity modes. Rhythm24 also provides 24 hours of battery life on a single charge, and is rated IP68 so it can be used during strenuous workouts without worrying about sweat, or even when swimming. Users can configure up to five standard training modes, and there’s also support for two multi-modes designed for biathletes and triathletes. Rhythm24 can also be used without any accompanying smartphone thanks to on-board data recording, which captures not only standard heart rate data but also heart rate variability (HRV), so it can help with recovery tracking as well as simply recording calories burned.

Scosche announces availability of BoomBottle MM rugged speaker

Scosche has announced the availability of its new BoomBottle MM rugged waterproof wireless speaker. Originally announced at CES 2018 in January, BoomBottle MM is a sequel to Scosche’s 2015 BoomBottle+, featuring two six-watt speakers and two 40 millimeter passive radiators. Like its predecessor, BoomBottle MM is IP67 rated for both dust and water protection, but the new model also features Scosche’s MagicMOUNT technology to allow users to keep their iPhone magnetically secured to the speaker, along with a magnet on the bottom of the speaker that lets it be attached to just about any metal surface at just about angle, and there’s even a built-in bottle opener. An auto-sensing indoor/outdoor equalizer also automatically adjusts sound quality appropriate to where you’re using the speaker, and two BoomBottle MM speakers can be paired for better stereo separation. The black BoomBottle MM is available now at Costco.com and select Costco retail locations, and the full color range will be available directly from Scosche and other retailers starting in June for $129.99.

Apple drops price on USB-C to Lightning Cable

In a somewhat unusual move, Apple has quietly lowered the price on its standard one-meter USB-C to Lightning Cable, lowering it from its original $25 asking price down to $19, putting it at the same price as its standard Lightning to USB Cable, further fuelling recent rumors that this year’s iPhone models will be shipping with USB-C chargers.

IK Multimedia unveils UNO Synth

IK Multimedia has broken new ground, releasing its first hardware synthesizer in the form of UNO Synth, a new monophonic synth that provides a wide analog sound palette, easy programmability, and on-the-go portability. UNO Synth is the culmination of IK’s own decades of experience in software and hardware audio development and a collaboration with Italian boutique synthesizer maker Soundmachines and IK’s synth guru Erik Norlander, taking the types of features and capabilities that IK has been known for in its software apps and bringing them to a powerful hardware synth that can deliver a range of sounds from the classic to the modern. While the new synth packs a lot of power, IK has also taken steps to make it accessible to first-time synth users, with 100 presets and an easy-to-play keyboard, but it’s also designed with the experience professional in mind, providing a true-analog audio path, powerful synth engine, and more.

RHA releases MA650 Wireless in white

RHA has released the MA650 Wireless in a new white aesthetic, the latest design in RHA’s MA range, and the company’s third wireless headphone. Featuring a minimalist design and a solid, premium build, the MA650 includes a noise-isolating form and a 12-hour battery life, and is targeted specifically at those with active lifestyles. Tap-and-go NFC pairing allows quick connections with multiple supported devices, and a universal remote works for switching between music, calls, and voice assistant activation at the touch of a button. The silicone neckband also provides haptic vibrations of incoming calls and notifications. The MA650 Wireless is priced at $99.95 and is available now on Amazon and RHA’s website.

Apple partner Foxconn acquires accessory and peripheral maker Belkin

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has acquired accessory and peripheral maker Belkin for $866 million, TechCrunch reports. The sale brings a lot of recognizable brands owned by Belkin under Foxconn’s umbrella, including Linksys, Wemo and Phyn in addition to Belkin’s own name. Belkin’s CEO and founder Chet Pipkin will stay on and operate the company “as a wholly owned subsidiary,” possibly also joining Foxconn Interconnect Technology’s management team at a later date.

Marshall releases company’s first active noise cancelling headphones

Marshall’s new Mid A.N.C. marks the company’s first venture into active noise cancelling headphones, using four microphones to continuously measure and pinpoint ambient noise and block it out. The headphones boast “up to 20 hours” of wireless playback when active noise cancelling is engaged or more than 30 hours of wireless playtime without A.N.C. The headphones feature 3D metal hinges that rotate to provide a snug fit and a collapsible vinyl case with a red velvet lining. The Mid A.N.C. costs $269 and is available at Marshall’s website.

Ultimate Ears debut new waterproof Wonderboom portable speakers

Ultimate Ears has added the new waterproof Wonderboom speaker ($100) to its lineup. The round speaker provides 360-degree sound and can be immersed in water up to one meter for up to 30 minutes, so it can withstand the rigors of a sudden rain storm or outdoor pool party. It also floats, has a hanging loop (to make it easier to fish out of a pool if it’s knocked in) and is drop-proof to five feet. The company claims the speaker can last up to 10 hours on its battery and has a 100-foot wireless Bluetooth range, and two of the devices can even be paired together to provide a more robust listening experience.

Apple updates MFi program with with specs for new Lightning audio cable, USB-C port

Apple has added specifications for USB-C ports and a Lightning to 3.5mm output cable to its Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod licensing program, 9to5Mac reports. The update will allow third-party accessory makers to include USB-C charging receptacles in certified iOS and Mac accessories. Accessory makers can also now create a Lightning to 3.5mm connector to allow iOS devices to be plugged directly into an auxiliary port. Previously users would be forced to use the Lightning to 3.5mm female adapter included with their device in conjunction with a male-to-male 3.5mm to connect, so this new cable spec should make things simpler for users looking to go that route for audio. Apple also announced a change to its MFi program logos, killing off the old device icons in favor of a simpler look with just the Apple logo.

Barclays claims AirPods with improved noise canceling features coming next year

Speculation has been ramping up around when we’ll see the next generation of AirPods, with some reports claiming we’ll see a new model with an upgraded wireless chip and “Hey Siri” support for calling up Siri without the need to physically tap the headphones as early as this year. But 9to5Mac reports Barclays thinks Apple could wait until 2019 to reveal new AirPods with improved noise-canceling features. The analysts claim we’ll see “design changes and improvements” over current AirPods, but earbuds using physical analog methods will have a tough time competing with electronic active noise cancellation now common in over-the-ear headphones. The previous report from Bloomberg speculated that Apple could be adding waterproofing to the AirPods by 2019, so it’s possible that the noise reduction claim is a happy coincidence created by the better seal.

Report: Development issues could hold up (or even scrap) Apple headphones

A new Bloomberg report backs an earlier KGI claim that Apple is developing a new pair of headphones under its own brand, but development issues might push back the product’s release. Delays due to design complications seem to be a theme with Apple’s recent push into high-end audio products, with both the company’s AirPods and HomePod pushed back from their initial targets after engineers had trouble tackling things like wireless audio synchronization. The HomePod even had an embarrassing issue arise after its launch despite missing it’s original release date, so it’s possible Apple is being particularly cautious this time around to get it right at launch. The new report didn’t specifically cite whether the problems are with the basic design or the audio components, but warned it’s still possible it could scrap the headphone project altogether despite initially targeting a launch as early as the end of this year. Apple already owns the successful Beats headphone brand, making it possible that a new entry into the crowded wireless headphone market would cannibalize the company’s own sales under that label.

Report: Apple planning to release high-end headphones this year

Hot on the heels of rumors that Apple will be updating its AirPods, well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is telling investors to expect Apple to release a pair of high-end headphones later this year, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo expects the over-the-ear headphones to be an Apple product with an all-new design, not branded under the Apple-owned Beats label. The report doesn’t detail the specific features that would be included in the headphones, but they would likely feature improved sound quality, noise-canceling and battery life over AirPods given Apple’s ability to pluck the best of Beats technology for its own headphone line. Kuo also backed the rumored release of new AirPods, claiming they will come with an improved W1 chip and a case that features a redesigned hinge to facilitate wireless charging.

Tablo OTA DVR update adds advanced recording features

Nuvyyo has released a software update for its Tablo Over-The-Air DVR (iLounge rating: A-) bringing the more advanced and flexible scheduling and recording management tools that many users have been waiting for. The new features, which are rolling out as part of a firmware update to all Tablo DVR models, will allow users to adjust start and stop times for recordings, choose to keep only a specific number of episodes on a per-program basis, and choose which channel to record from when multiple channels are airing a given program. The new advanced recording features will be available to all customers with an active Tablo guide subscription once their devices have been updated to the latest firmware (2.2.18), which is being rolled out gradually over the next week, and can be accessed using most of Tablo’s apps, including the Apple TV and iOS apps, as well as the Safari-optimzied web app for Mac users. Full details can be found on the company’s blog.

Nokia pulls Pulse Wave Velocity feature from Body Cardio over regulatory issues

Nokia has been forced to disable the Pulse Wave velocity feature that allowed its Body Cardio scale to measure arterial stiffness and high blood pressure, according to an updated FAQ from the company. The scale used the speed at which heartbeat-generated vibrations spread out along arterial walls and the time it takes for blood to flow from the heart to the feet to go well beyond the measurements a normal bathroom scale can make. But In the company’s updated support document, Nokia said it has learned the PWV measurements “may require a different level of regulatory approval. In light of this, the decision was made to turn off the pulse wave velocity feature.”

Roland announces new app for creating split screen music videos

Venerable musical instrument maker Roland has released 4XCAMERA, a new video capture app for iOS devices. Although it’s a slight departure from the company’s usual offerings, 4XCAMERA is still targeted at musicians, with the goal of helping to create music videos that can combine up to four performances on a split screen. Users start by capturing a single video using the app, and can then use that initial video to record up to three more performances, adding new parts on each pass. Users can then apply one of 10 split-screen patterns and adjust volumes for each of the videos separately for the perfect sound mix before rendering a final video file that can be shared directly on YouTube or other social media sites.

JVC reveals affordable wireless earbud, headphone options

JVC is releasing a new slate of wireless earbud and headphone options this March, appealing to those who want the benefits of wireless listening without the hefty price tag. The JVC Flats Wireless series ($40) are simple on-ear headphones that provide around 11 hours of listening on a full charge and fold away flat for easy storage on the go. The company’s Noise Canceling Bluetooth Folding Headphones ($100) provide the same 11 hours of wireless listening with the added benefit of noise canceling (or longer listening if you want to turn the noise canceling off or plug the headphones in rather than use Bluetooth).

Satechi announces Smart Dual Charging Station

Satechi has announced the new Smart Dual Charging Station for the iPhone and Apple Watch. The stand comes with two customizable docks that provide a total of 15W in power. The company says the stand can also charge other Apple accessories — like the Apple Pencil and Siri Remote — but it’s clearly designed to hold an iPhone/Apple Watch combo, with storage below to contain the charging cables. The stand will be available sometime this spring and comes in silver or space gray brushed aluminum for $65.

Sennheiser rolls out new wireless, over-the-ear headphones, previews 3D Soundbar

Sennheiser is touting the latest additions to its lineup at CES, revealing the closed-back HD 820 headphones, CX 6.00BT wireless earbuds and 3D Soundbar. The HD 820 has a “unique glass transducer cover that minimizes resonance,” which Sennheiser claims “ensures an incredibly realistic and natural sound field.” The Bluetooth 4.2 CX 6.00BT are in-ear earbuds connected by a cable around the neck, complete with volume and audio controls. The company is also showing off a prototype of its 3D Soundbar and its flagship Ambeo smart headset, which features microphones on the outside of each earpice to provide 3D sound when the phone records audio or video. The HD 820 is available for pre-order now for those willing to pay the $3,500 price tag, and the CX 6.00BT can be had for $130 for those who aren’t.

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