It seems as if everyone is making portable Bluetooth speakers these days, so it makes sense a big company like Beats by Dre doesn't want to be left out. Last year saw the Beatbox Portable$399.00 at Amazon, which wasn't particularly portable, and consumed batteries like an old Sega Game Gear. The Beats Pill is a smaller, rechargeable, Jawbone Jambox-like speaker that doesn't have the huge footprint of the Beatbox line. At $199.99 (list), it's also less than half the price, though still more expensive than other Bluetooth speakers in its own class. It's well-designed and functional, but it can't handle strong bass at all, and isn't as compelling as the less-expensive Logitech UE Mobile Boombox$99.95 at Apple Store, our current Editors' Choice for Bluetooth speakers. You can't expect too much bass from a speaker so small, but the Monster Beats Pill is particularly weak on that front. The speaker employs a processing algorithm that softens parts of tracks so they don't blow out the speaker, but the processing can take a second to kick in, so it might as well be useless. The dark, atmospheric sounds of Bathory's "Odens Ride Over Nordland" filled our test room comfortably, with the beat of hooves occasionally popping before the speaker could adjust but otherwise sounding natural. Our bass test track, The Knife's "Silent Shout," produced notable popping throughout the track, distorting heavily on the drumbeats. The distortion occurs primarily when volume is maximized on both the audio device and the speaker. At slightly lower volume levels, songs like Green Day's "Kill the DJ" and Maximum the Hormone's "Louisiana Bob" sound clear and full, lacking notable bass but not distorting. However, it feels like you're missing out on how loud the speaker could be, if it had better audio processing to reduce distortion at high volume levels. The Beats by Dre ###### Pill doubles as a speakerphone, and serves well in that function. While not exceptionally clear, I could hear the caller well, and the caller could make out everything I said. The Pill puts enough power behind the speaker and sensitivity behind the microphone that it significantly improved the speakerphone feature of my Samsung Galaxy S III. The Beats by Dre Pas Cher Pill offers a unique form factor and doubles as a good speakerphone, but it simply doesn't offer good enough sound quality to justify its $200 price tag. While you might get a reasonably loud and clear listening experience on one track, the next might pop distractingly and force you to tweak the volume just because it has slightly more bass. If the speaker handled bass distortion slightly better, it would have been a much stronger contender. As it is, you're better off getting the Jabra Solemate$179.99 at Amazon Marketplace for its superior audio quality, or the Editors' Choice Logitech UE Mobile Boombox for its small size and exceptional value. Both speakers handle the low-end better, even if neither offers particularly strong bass, and the Mobile Boombox is just as functional as a speakerphone at half the price of the Pill.
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