First, Jabra brought us the Solemate, a Bluetooth speaker that looks like a shoe. Now, Beats by Dre, purveyor of fashionista friendly headphones, has introduced us to the Pill. It looks—you guessed it—like a giant gelcap. And its Bluetooth sound sure could use a spoonful of sugar.
What Is It?
A $200 Bluetooth speaker with four one-inch drivers and NFC pairing.
Who's It For?
Somebody who's looking for a better-than-average Bluetooth speaker and has money to burn.
The Pill is a speaker tube with a see-through metal grill that shows off the its four drivers. A big iconic "B" lights up red smack in the center. It fits in your hand like a bulky Red Bull can, and weighs significantly less than a pound.
The pill connects via Bluetooth just like every other Bluetooth device does. NFC Bluetooth pairing only works on NFC-equipped phones, because duh.
The Best Part
For such a tiny speaker, the Beats Pill gets very loud with admirable clarity. We blasted some crazy dancey synth tunes to high heaven and heard a mostly full range of tones.
Beats by Dre headphones are famous for that banging bass. You won't find that here. In fact, low-end organ and bass lines on songs by Flying Lotus and A Tribe Called quest were a distorted mess, decidedly worse than you'd find in other comparable Bluetooth speakers.
This Is Weird...
The speaker registered the NFC data from our Ice Cream Sandwich Samsung Galaxy S III, but it didn't pair seamlessly as we were promised.
- Tested in the office against a few of our favorite Bluetooth speakers including the Jabra Solemate, Monster Clarity HD Micro, and the Soundfreaq Sound Kick.
- The speaker had no problem pairing with a 2011 MacBook Pro or an iPhone 4s.
- After to checking to see that the Bluetooth pairing worked, we listened to music using the included 3.5mm adapter cable to hear the speaker at its best.
- In addition to hip hop and electronic music, we tested the Pill with David Bowie to listen for the staging of the speaker. It does a nice job.
- This thing really is impressively tiny for what it is—by far, smaller and lighter than any other Bluetooth speaker we've ever truly liked.
- The Pill is loud. Super loud.
Should You Buy It?
In a lot of ways, the Pill is a very appealing package: attractive, portable, and easy to use. When dealing with most music, The Pill sounds spectacular, and it's louder than most other speakers its size. But for a lot of people—and more importantly for a lot of Beats fans—that bunk low-end performance is going to be a deal-breaker. Besides its compact size, we can't think of any reason to buy it over the Sondfreaq Sound Kick that won our $100 Bluetooth speaker battlemodo. The cheaper speaker still sounds better!