Hands-on review: Beats Pill portable speaker

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beats-pill-top.jpgBeats, quickly becoming the most-recognisable (and most visible) headphones brand on the market, have been branching out of the headwear game since breaking from their partners at Monster. The latest fruits to come forth from the Dr Dre-endorsed brand is the Beats Pill portable wireless speaker, set to go toe-to-toe with the Jambox and Bose Soundlink for space in your picnic basket as the summer months approach. We had a quick play at an Amazon Summer Wish List event held in London earlier today. Here’s our initial thoughts.

As its name suggests, the Beats Pill shares similar looks with any painkilling capsule that we all become all-too-well acquainted with on a Saturday morning after a heavy night on the town. A mixture of white plastics with red highlights, and with a white metal grille covering the speakers themselves, it’s an attractive speaker that sticks with the Beats brand’s signature aesthetics. It also comes with a form-fitting carry case, protecting the speaker should you be dragging it around carelessly in a bag.

Roughly the same size as a remote control (though built in a more cylindrical shape), it’s surprisingly weighty in the hand, giving it a reassuringly sturdy feel.
beats-pill-case.jpgThe Beats Pill can connect to a smartphone or other audio source in one of three ways. Firstly, there’s the standard Bluetooth connection, activated by hitting the Beats logo on the speaker’s front. Secondly, there’s a 3.5mm audio-in jack on the back for hooking up devices without Bluetooth (accompanied by an audio-out port). Thirdly, and most excitingly, is NFC support. Hit the Beats button on the front to activate Bluetooth, then tap your NFC-enabled device against the Beats Pill and you’ll instantly pair the two together – no need to dig around in Bluetooth pairing menus.

On the rear you’ll also find a USB charging port, as well as a power button. The Beats Pill is said to be good for around 7 hours of use per charge – not bad for a portable speaker this size, but not class leading either. Keep in mind that this is the manufacturer’s quoted battery lifespan – we’re looking to do a full review of the Beats Pill soon and we’ll be able to confirm or dismiss these claims then, so check back soon.

Of course, being a 2.1 speaker, the Beats Pill will need to impress on the audio front, and our short time with the speaker was a positive initial listen. Hitting surprisingly loud volume levels for a device so small, the Beats Pill seems tuned slightly more neutrally than Beats headphones. A portable speaker this size will always struggle to produce bass to match larger home speakers or over ear cans, but with the Beats Pill it results in a sound more flexible than its over-ears stable mates. The speaker looks to be just as good a fit for softer, folkier music and guitar-based sounds as well as the hip-hop and dance genres that Beats devices are usually tuned for.

Available now from Amazon.co.uk in white, black and red, the Beats Pill Bluetooth speaker costs £169.95. We’ll be looking to conduct a full in-depth review in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for our final verdict and score.

Gerald Lynch