This is a special guest post by the geekdaddy. He wants to tell you all about an event he was invited to recently.
Something usual happened. An invitation came through the geekmummy email but it wasn’t for the geekmummy. It was for me, the geekdaddy and it was a chance to go and play with some cool new gadgets. Normally we don’t accept invitations that mean travelling all the way to London from where we live in Cheshire but I’m a sucker for gadgets and audio equipment so I said yes and on Wednesday afternoon off I went.
The opportunity was offered by Harman and they wanted to show us speakers and headphones in honour of father’s day. I don’t know if you give daddies gifts on father’s day but I’m all for it!
There were quite a number of new products on display but I’m going to enthuse about a couple that really caught my eye.
First up are the range of JBL small battery powered speakers. There were units at £50, £100 and £120. I really only had eyes for the £120 JBL Charge because, not only was it the most powerful and best sounding unit of the three, but it also has a USB socket that allows you to recharge your phone. It runs for 12 hours on a full charge and has enough power for at least 1 full iPhone recharge. Any time a device can serve 2 functions like this it more than doubles the chances it’ll find room in my bag. It also comes in a fantastic green colour that would match my iPad cover. Overall this was the product I found myself most wanting to receive on father’s day!
Harman Kardon were also showing their latest bluetooth headphones, the Headphones BT. I’ve been a bluetooth headphones fan for a long time. A few years ago I decided I hated having a tangle of cables in my pocket all the time and since then I’ve used a whole range of bluetooth headphones. I’ve found that bluetooth can be very variable in its ability to hold onto a signal. Some devices drop connection at the slightest obstruction – some couldn’t even hold on if my gut was between the phone and the headphones. While some would allow me to walk from room to room without dropping. The Headphones BT seemed to stay connected well but I didn’t have the opportunity to really test the range. I did, however, hear that they sounded far nicer than any of the cheap in-ear models I’ve tended to use. They’re a closed back over-ear design that should keep those around you from being disturbed. The batteries last 12 hours and they can even be used on a cord when the battery does eventually die. They also have a built-in mic so you can answer calls. Very nice indeed and definitely going on my father’s day wish list!
The final product that made my “want want want” wishlist was the JBL Soundfly and I was lucky enough to bring one home with me. It’s a stereo bluetooth speaker that pushes straight into a plug socket. It’s insanely simple and doesn’t clutter up the room. You connect via bluetooth. Play music. That’s it. When I got this thing home it took me less than 30 seconds before I was listening to music streaming from my phone and the audio quality is excellent. I’m really delighted with this unit. As soon as I saw it I knew where it would go. I often watch video podcasts while I’m cooking or making a cup of tea in the morning and the little tiny speaker on my phone isn’t loud enough to cover the boiling kettle or the bubbling pans. This thing is not only loud enough, the sound quality is great!. There aren’t any visible buttons but when I did eventually read the manual (only because I was reviewing it you understand) I discovered that you can turn it off by holding the JBL logo and re-pair it by holding the bluetooth symbol. JBL also make an Airplay version but as an Android guy that doesn’t interest me much. Bluetooth is much simpler and more flexible. This device works for everyone in our mixed platform house and the Bluetooth signal holds on superbly well. I can wander 2 rooms away and still remain connected.
So those were the star products for me. There was also the GoPlay Wireless which was large and loud and beautiful sounding but wouldn’t find a place in my already cluttered home. And the AKG K551 reference headphones which honestly sounded superb. They’d be perfect for an audiophile wanting to take fantastic quality on the move with them but they’ll make you look like Princess Leia. For home use the same headphones are available as the K550, with a long cable and without the built in mic.
In the end I was there for just over an hour and a half but I would have loved to stay and play much longer. I was extremely impressed with the sound quality of all the devices and with Harman’s investment in Bluetooth. If the Soundfly is any measure the resilience of Bluetooth connections is impressive. So my star picks for Father’s day from Harman are the JBL Charge, the JBL Soundfly and the Harman Kardon Headphones BT – in that order.
The above products are available from Amazon (and many other suppliers). The links in the widget below contain the geekmummy’s affiliate code – buying after clicking on one of them will not cost you any more but will give her a small commission.
This blog post is also available in enhanced audio format – you can listen in the player below, or, if it’s not available, click on this link to listen on the Audioboo website.
Disclosure: The geekdaddy received a contribution to his travel expenses, a fun evening in London with some other Daddy bloggers, and a complimentary JBL Soundfly. The geekmummy got to stay home with the kids and missed out on all the cool tech. Harman for Mums next? 😉