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Published on January 31st, 2012 | by Greg

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Philips SoundRing, Now With Airplay

We got a sneak pre­view of the up­com­ing gear from Philips, and we con­fess to be­ing ex­cit­ed for what it yet to come in 2012. We try out a lot of iOS gear here- all sorts of gad­gets and giz­mos and ev­ery­thing from cas­es to lens­es. But our fa­vorite cat­e­go­ry com­bines au­dio with the mo­bile de­vices and tablets that have come to rule the cat­e­go­ry- the iPhone and the iPad. Hence our love for speak­ers and speak­er docks- of ev­ery make, mod­el, and va­ri­ety.

We’ve tried out some of the very best- the Zep­pelin Air from Bow­ers and Wilkins scored high marks- but un­der­stand that there are plen­ty of peo­ple on a bud­get and there are op­tions for ev­ery taste. We’ve even seen some with a kitchen scale built-in.

To­day, we’ve got the Philips Fi­de­lio SoundRing Wire­less Speak­er with Air­Play. We should note that this is not tech­ni­cal­ly a dock in the strictest sense, which made a lot of sense to us. Af­ter all, with Air­Play, there is lit­tle need or use for a dock oth­er than charg­ing. Plus you can cer­tain­ly plug in your iPod, iPhone, or iPad in­to the USB port to charge and play si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly, and this method felt a bit more con­ve­nient and less like­ly to break than a dock.

The SoundRing is quite an at­trac­tive sys­tem, and sur­pris­ing­ly loud for it’s fair­ly small foot­print. Un­like some sys­tems, it has a wider sweet spot, so that lis­ten­ers don’t have to care­ful­ly ad­just the speak­er or them­selves for qual­i­ty sound. We found the build qual­i­ty im­pres­sive as well- it’s a dense, well-en­gi­neered piece of equip­ment. Even bet­ter, it’s portable- you can use the built-in recharge­able bat­ter­ies to pow­er the unit, un­like most oth­er Air­Play de­vices that we’ve seen. Now, you’re not go­ing to get a long par­ty out of the bat­ter­ies- maybe three or so hours us­ing wire­less play­back, but al­most six if you use the aux­il­iary or or USB in­put. The charg­ing cra­dle is pret­ty nifty, too- one of the, if not the, best we’ve seen.

So far, so good. But as with most Air­Play de­vices that we’ve seen, there are more a few ma­jor caveats. We’ll start with one that is Philips-spe­cif­ic, as they of­fer (unique­ly) a free app that al­lows you a bit more con­trol over sound set­tings, and os­ten­si­bly some oth­er fea­tures. In our opin­ion, it’s not re­al­ly worth the down­load- it felt bug­gy and in­com­plete, and it crashed more than once. It al­so seemed to ex­ac­er­bate the fair­ly com­mon is­sues with Air­Play. As with most Air­Play de­vices that we’ve tried, we ex­pe­ri­enced reg­u­lar drop-outs when us­ing an iPhone 4S- or even hav­ing one on the net­work. One router would work well, but we’ve seen oth­ers per­form very poor­ly, re­gard­less of sig­nal strength, even when us­ing an iPhone 4. We’ve heard from mul­ti­ple sources that Ap­ple is aware of these is­sues, as are the man­u­fac­tur­ers, and ev­ery­one is wait­ing for a fix- hope­ful­ly com­ing soon.

Once that Air­Play fix comes, this will be a won­der­ful­ly at­trac­tive portable wire­less speak­er sys­tem. The sound qual­i­ty is good, with a def­i­nite tilt to­wards fuller sound and more spa­cious, roomi­er mids and slight­ly thin highs. The bass won’t re­al­ly shake the room, and we found the SoundRing per­fect for most pop and rock, a bit strained on hip-hop and clas­si­cal/opera tracks, but fea­tur­ing crisp vo­cals across the board. At high­er vol­umes, there was some dis­tor­tion, re­gard­less of in­put method. But the classy in­dus­tri­al de­sign and nice weight/sound bal­ance meant we could take our par­ty on the road and look good do­ing so. Avail­able for $300, the price feels just about right, and it’s avail­able on­line and in stores now.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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