When designing a new model of loudspeaker, manufacturers can go with something totally innovative and different from anything they’ve done before, or with a “family” concept: a speaker of the same design as before, but of a different size, or with different refinements or features. JBL’s Flip 4 is of the second type. The Flip line of Bluetooth speakers has been very successful, and the latest addition, the Flip 4, fits right in with the family, as well as did the JBL Charge 3 ($149.95 USD), which I reviewed in March. The Flip 4 ($89.95 USD) is about two-thirds the size of the Charge 3, has the same cylindrical design and plays loud, and, also like the Charge 3, is not merely water-resistant but entirely waterproof.
Audio-Technica was perhaps a little late to the Bluetooth game, but since then the company has produced many headphones of distinction that include the wireless technology. Now they’ve come up with a new type of digital transmission that makes their new ATH-DSR7BT over-ear headphones ($299 USD) unique, and well worth considering as all-around ’phones that live up to the Hi-Res Audio badge printed on the box.
After reviewing the mammoth EcoBoulder speaker from Grace Digital last month, I was a little reluctant to return to the smaller, bass-shy Bluetooth models that are the norm. Strolling Walmart, I spotted G-Project’s G-Boom, which has been around a while and gotten a few top ratings. Another incentive was that I’d covered G-Project’s G-Go waterproof speaker four years ago and found it rather good. I took the plunge.
When the Grace EcoBoulder arrived, I was afraid it was broken -- its single carton (no double boxing) had been greatly damaged in shipping. But inside, sturdy pieces of Styrofoam top and bottom still held the EcoBoulder in position, safe and unharmed. When I’d removed these, I stared in admiration.
These wireless headphones seem to have been designed at the same time as the wired UR42i model, reviewed in January. They’re lightweight, with simple-to-use controls and very good sound, and their price of $99.99 USD makes them an attractive choice for those seeking wireless cans that can also be used wired.
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.