Imagine if the Google Home smart-speaker charged your phone, and had audio drivers from Devialet

The future is truly in multitasking. It isn’t enough that your wireless charger charges only one device. It needs to charge three at a time… and your wristwatch? It should tell you the time, indicate your health, and also let you send and receive calls. In a world where all our products are designed to multitask, it seems like the smart-speaker is capable of a lot more than playing audio from the web on command. Meet the Soundform Elite. It’s a smart-speaker enabled with Google Assistant (and it looks a bit like the Google Nest Home too), as well as a wireless charging dock equipped with Belkin’s charging technology, and incredibly powerful audio drivers by none other than Devialet.

The partnership between Belkin and Devialet is interesting for a number of reasons. Belkin is famed for making some of the best charging cables, hubs, adapters, and extension boxes on the market, while Devialet still reigns as the most awarded audio company in the world. The companies announced their collaboration at CES this year, with the Soundform Elite, which happens to be Devialet’s second smart-speaker after its collab with Huawei. The Soundform Elite works just like any smart-speaker, albeit with a docking area for your phone. Equipped with a fast-charging 10W Qi charger, the Soundform Elite has the unique feature of being able to charge a wide variety of compatible Android phones as well as iPhones, making it a worthy pick for Apple enthusiasts too. Moreover, fitted with Devialet’s incredibly capable driver and woofer technology, the Soundform should easily outperform other speakers in its price category of $299.

The Soundform Elite comes in the classic Black and White color-schemes (much like the HomePod), and has a neat fabric clad around the outside which is practically a standard for smart-speakers now. It ships in Spring 2020, although it’s up for preorder on Belkin’s site.

Designers: Belkin & Devialet

Apple Music partnered with the NBA for its latest curated playlist

While Apple Music has dipped its toes into year-end reviews and the like, it's fair to say playlists haven't been as much of a focus for the platform as say Spotify and YouTube Music. You won't, for example, find an algorithmically-generated soundtra...

Harman is redesigning its in-car audio systems specifically for electric vehicles

I bet you didn’t know this but car stereos can often be power guzzlers. A decent car audio setup can pull anywhere from 200 to 500 watts RMS of power depending on the number of speaker units, the size of the car, and the bass module. That isn’t really much of a concern when you’ve got a fuel-powered automobile but in an electric vehicle, any sort of efficiency can go a long way in making a car perform better. Harman (which got acquired by Samsung in late 2016) is looking to redesign its audio systems for EVs, to help provide its signature quality of sound, but with a smaller power footprint. Its redesigned system, called the ECOTECT, is aimed at helping provide cars with high-quality audio while weighing less and using as little power as possible.

Traditional audio systems usually have audio units at the base of each door (often with a separate tweeter near the window), along with smaller drivers lined at the top, followed by the woofer right at the back. Harman’s Ecotect follows the same philosophy, but puts two drivers under the gearbox in front, rather than the door, followed by smaller drivers on the A and B pillars, and a woofer at the back, providing the same sound but also cutting down the number of components required. “Ecotect features high-efficiency speakers, a proprietary Prodigy Booster amplifier and Power Manager 2.0 technology, all layered in via a unique architecture that leverages innovative speaker locations, sustainable materials and sophisticated signal processing to deliver premium audio and communications experiences with EV-optimized efficiency”, says the product team at Harman. The Ecotect also leverages the use of software to help provide audio that matches traditional in-car sound systems… much like how phone cameras use computational photography to compete with DSLRs. To add to it, Harman’s even built voice-sensing volume fading technologies into it to help reduce audio to enable conversations in the car, as well as HALOsonic Road Noise Cancellation, which dampens and minimizes road noise to make your cabin quieter and your music experience richer. Pretty neat, eh?

Designer: Harman

Modular headphones that mix your sound to match your space

Imagine having a sound system so versatile that you can actually play Lego with it! DE-MO, which stands for Detachable and Modular, is exactly that – an ecosystem of replaceable speakers, cables and headband accessories that you can use to create an audio experience based on your needs. It has a minimal aesthetic and a sleek build so you’ll never look like Tarzan with the cords – DE-MO is built for the minimal millennial.

DE-MO adapts to your needs so instead of having to keep a track of different headphones and cables for different situations, it offers a single set that can be expanded over time. It even gives you the option of adding a microphone and volume control clip – now you can finally go on that run and not be compelled to answer any phone calls!

This modular audio system was made keeping YOU in mind – there is something for everyone who uses DE-MO. If you are working out and want your headphones to be lighter, just strip away some accessories and you’re good to go. If you’re at the office and want to focus, but make sure you hear your boss call out to you – there is a set up for that too. By the riverside and enjoying a quiet moment for yourself? You can have a completely immersive experience with your favorite songs and savor that me-time with DE-MO. Now you have a playlist for every mood and a headset for every playlist!

Designer: Hans van Sinderen

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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ will reportedly lack active noise cancellation

Samsung's Galaxy Buds are nearing a year old, so naturally rumors about the next version have started circulating. Supposedly, the Galaxy Buds+ will not have active noise cancellation (ANC), sources tell SamMobile. They may come with a larger battery...

This turntable-inspired mini speaker will give you a pocketful of nostalgia

The Mini Speaker is a speaker that promises to take you to a place where the past and present collide! Not only do they collide, but they merge together to create one incredible audio experience. Unlike your regular Bluetooth speakers with their sleek futuristic forms, the Mini Speaker takes inspiration from the retro vinyl record players!

Shaped after a vinyl record player, the speaker features a little platform and a turntable as well! And here’s where it gets even more interesting, this speaker is in fact…mini. Showcasing a compact minute structure, the speaker is extremely portable, something you could carry along in your pocket! Attach a chain or string to its nifty handle, and carrying it about becomes even easier. Rolling mechanisms on either side of the handle, allow you to switch the device on and off, as well as control the volume.

The Mini Speaker is perfect for all the audiophiles who would love a bit of nostalgia but find the regular vinyl record players too cumbersome and hectic to manage. The Mini Speaker promises to take you down memory lane, in the most efficient and portable manner ever.

Available in interesting shades such as a butter yellow, mint green and a neutral black, the Mini Speaker is a fun retro-esque way to listen to music, simply connect it to your smartphone, and listen to your music on the go!

Designer: Second White

Apple’s AirPods drop to $129 on Amazon

Don't worry if you missed out on some of the sweeter AirPods deals from the holidays -- you can get a solid bargain right now. Amazon is selling Apple's standard wireless earbuds for $129, or $30 off (and a return to an all-time low price). You won...