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Beats Pill portable speaker is Dr. Dre's answer to the Jambox, now on sale for $199

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Beats Pill EMBARGO 1016 1130AM
Beats Pill EMBARGO 1016 1130AM

Beats is no stranger to speakers: the company has offered the Beatbox and Beatbox Portable (both of which carry a $399 premium) as part of its lineup for some time now. But today marks the debut of Beats Pill, a small Bluetooth-enabled speaker aimed squarely at Jawbone's Jambox. Priced at $199, Pill is the latest entrant in a growing market of battery-powered speakers that place an emphasis on portability. "We saw that there was this explosion of small speakers," said Beats President and COO Luke Wood. "So we said, 'let's take a look at that' and do what we do at Beats which is bringing in a more emotional sound."

Cramming the Beats audio experience into a tiny speaker

As you might expect, that sound is what the company believes will separate Pill from the competition. Wood revealed that the speaker contains four drivers (compared to Jambox's two) that were designed in-house. Similarly, the device's digital signal processor (DSP), which translates your music files into audible sound, was also engineered entirely by Beats. Those components lead to output levels that surpass Jawbone's offering — at least on paper — pushing out 12 watts while the Jambox maxes out at 5.2 watts. In a brief demo, Beats Pill indeed could go louder than Jambox while avoiding the distortion that eventually overwhelmed the latter speaker. Even so, these tiny devices have their limits and you shouldn't expect performance equivalent to larger alternatives like the Big Jambox or Libratone Zip.

That's not to say Pill doesn't sound good. It certainly does considering its footprint, and that's also aided by newly-supported audio codecs. Following in the steps of former business partner Monster, the company has integrated AAC and apt-X to provide a superior playback experience to those with compatible devices. Similarly, NFC is also included to make pairing a less cumbersome task for Android users. Beats Pill is available at retailers today in white, black, and red.