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Pioneer's first HTC Connect and Airplay compatible wireless speakers start at $299 (hands-on)

Pioneer's first HTC Connect and Airplay compatible wireless speakers start at $299 (hands-on)


Hands-on impressions of Pioneer's first HTC Connect and AirPlay-compatible wireless speakers, the XW-SMA1-K, XW-SMA3, and XW-SMA4.

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Gallery Photo: Pioneer Speaker with HTC Connect and AirPlay
Gallery Photo: Pioneer Speaker with HTC Connect and AirPlay

That didn't take long at all, did it? After HTC announced a new wireless streaming certification earlier today — called HTC Connect — Pioneer is ready with its first devices to take advantage of it. First up are three AirPlay and HTC Connect certified speakers, dubbed the XW-SMA1-K, XW-SMA3-K, and XW-SMA4-K. The speakers all support Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA, though only the A3 has a rechargeable battery pack that's promised to give four to five hours of playback. Other than that battery, the A1 is nearly identical to the A3: both have capacitive touch controls on the front rim, and around the rear they are equipped with USB, aux-in, and LAN ports. Since the A3 is made for outdoor use, each of the port openings are covered by a large rubber flap to make the unit sightly water resistant. The A1 and A3 will be available in July for $299 and in August for $399, respectively.

The step-up model is the A4, which adds some extra sound quality thanks to its larger size, 4-inch subwoofer, and 5-driver design. The unit looks much the same as its smaller brothers, and it has the same connectivity options (wired and wireless), but it lacks a rechargeable battery. The A4 was the only working unit we got to listen to, and on a moderately-loud show floor it did impress for a speaker of its size. There wasn't a large selection of tracks to try out on the demo One S that was provided to us, but Taio Cruz's "Little Bad Girl" sounded great, though at 100% volume there was a bit of distortion. The unit can certainly push out enough sound to fill a living room, which is what we'd hope for in a $399 speaker like this. It'll start shipping in August.

A good start for HTC Connect, though it'll need more hardware partners

Other than the hardware, we also got to see how HTC Connect works on the One X and One S. The feature is built into the default music player app, and is accessible from the menu button during music playback. It didn't take longer than a second or two to establish a connection, but unfortunately there was a delay when trying to increase or decrease the volume. Additionally, seeking isn't yet supported, though we're told it's coming in a firmware update. If you're worried that you're going to have to get new hardware to take advantage of HTC Connect, Pioneer says that all of its network-enabled 2012 A/V receivers will be updated to support the functionality, though currently AirPlay-style video playback is not an option. A company representative said we'd have to wait for new hardware — like a Blu-ray player — to gain see video streaming. It's clear that HTC is focused on improving media playback on its phones, but we'll have to wait for more manufacturers to hop on board before we can be sure of HTC Connect's future.

Pioneer wireless speaker with HTC Connect and AirPlay hands-on photos