Jabra Solemate

Bluetooth makes a comeback at IFA

Despite pressure from technologies such as Apple's Airplay and Wi-Fi, the Bluetooth format staged a comeback at the third day of IFA.

In the first day at IFA, the gigantic consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, mobile devices made the biggest splash. Now even more are popping up, but with a Bluetooth twist.

Bluetooth is of course the long-established wireless 'nearby' (within 10m generally) technology that's embedded in just about every smartphone and tablet. Until now, its mains use was for in-ear headsets beloved of sales executives.

True, the M25 and M55 headsets feature Plantronics's longest ever standby times – up to five months. 'DeepSleep' technology extends life by ensuring that if your phone and headset are out of range for more than 90 minutes, the headset drops to a lower standby level, needing to be woken up to use again.

However, Bluetooth is beginning to make inroads into consumer entertainment uses. Originally, the signal quality was too poor to listen to high-bitrate music, but the times are changing.

Jabra has announced the Solemate, a Bluetooth wireless speaker. The Solemate's selling point is its waffled, sneaker-inspired tread, which means the speaker doesn't slip on any surface, and it is also fairly rugged, according to Jabra.

One of the reasons Bluetooth is staging a comeback is aptX; this audio codec, when combined with compatible Bluetooth devices, is allowing much higher bitrate and quality audio streams over Bluetooth, to the extent aptX streams now sound indistinguishable from high-quality files over Wi-Fi, Airplay or even CD.

At IFA, Cambridgeshire lab CSR, the people behind aptX, showcased new aptX Low Latency codec to combine high-quality audio and video streams successfully, as well as smart home automation control via Bluetooth.

The Monster ClarityHD Model One high-definition speakers, have a Bluetooth option coming soon for wireless connectivity, but at IFA launched the StreamCast HD Transmitter and Receiver that uses rival Kleer wireless technology. That means you can use your computer to stream four different high-quality files to 12 different rooms, up to 100ft away. The speakers also already feature inbuilt iPhone docks and digital amps.

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