Hands-on: Beats Pill review

Beats by Dr Dre has become so much more than a brand associated with bass-thumping headphones in the last year or so. Perhaps it's the company's split from Monster that has seen it expand its remit, but it's working.

Naturally, "the kids" and Premier League footballers are still crazy about their Beats Studio cans and the like, but we're happy to report that not everything under the Beats umbrella is hip hop-centric - there's some interesting other audio technologies worth checking out.

One that Pocket-lint was incredibly eager to have a listen to during the Amazon Summer Wish List event held in London is the Beats Pill - a portable Bluetooth speaker that goes up against the Jambox in size and acoustic stature, but is perhaps sleaker in the looks department.

Not that that's the be all and end all, after all, the sound quality is surely more important and we blasted a number of different genres of music track through the Pill at the Amazon event and were pleasantly surprised that it handles Seasick Steve better - to our ears - than The Prodigy.

I Can't Explain from the recent remastered release of The Who Live at Hull 1970 is an intricate recording, highlighting the size of the venue it was captured in, thanks to echo effects and the restrictions of the recording technology at the time, yet the Beats Pill managed to convey that drama admirably for such a small package. It can't be raised too high in the volume stakes before suffering muddiness, but this is a small portable speaker, not a party sound system.

Bass too can be a little flat at the lowest range, but it would be interesting to hear it on a solid table surface rather than an MDF pourous shelf to make a definitive judgement on that - hence the "hands-on review" not the full review.

Not only is the Beats Pill a Bluetooth 2.1 speaker, giving it maximum portability, it also features NFC wireless tech. Tap an NFC- compatible smartphone to it (with Bluetooth already enabled) and the device will sync automatically. Others - iPhone owners - need only hit the Beats logo on the front and pair their devices through the normal fashion.

On the rear there are 3.5mm audio in and out sockets so it can be driven by kit that isn't Bluetooth compatible, and can even be used as the middle man to connect to a stereo system without wireless connectivity. And there's a USB 2.0 socket for charging duties.

Battery life is quoted as up to seven hours on a full charge and you can't really grumble with that, plenty of others in the category are similar or worse. And at least you get a natty carry case too.

What will essentially sell the Beats Pill is the brand name, but we doubt many would regret their choice. It'll look quite cool on a window sill too, and the NFC angle is a nice bonus.

The Beats Pill Bluetooth wireless speaker is available from Amazon.co.uk in white, black and red and costs £169.95.



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