Beats Pill Review: Can Dr. Dre Deliver the Cure for the Common Bluetooth Speaker?S

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.

Design

Beats Pill Review: Can Dr. Dre Deliver the Cure for the Common Bluetooth Speaker?S

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.

Using It

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.

Tragic Flaw

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.

Test Notes

  • 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?

Beats Pill Review: Can Dr. Dre Deliver the Cure for the Common Bluetooth Speaker?S

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!

Beats Pill
• Price: $200
• Drivers: 4, 1-inch drivers
• Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.1, NFC,
• Weight: 10.5 ounces
Gizrank: 3.5