Connected Objects
Aether Cone smart speaker trades control for couture

The Premise. Without a full-home wireless sound system, listening to a variety of streaming music personalized to each listener’s taste requires a lot of bulky transportation and set-up. Between the device that can connect to streaming audio and the kind of speakers necessary to fully enjoy the music, the process is cumbersome at best.

The Product. The Aether Cone is a minimalist but powerful artificial jukebox of sorts. It can wirelessly connect to streaming music, internet radio, and even podcasts for up to 8 hours. By turning the outer dial, the speaker turns on and begins streaming music. The center of the speaker can be tapped to pause, or held to ask for something specific. Adventurous listeners can spin the dial again like a radio to find suggestions of a different genre. The device is extremely light and portable and boasts dual tweeters, a 3” woofer, and a 2.1 20w amplifier.

The Pitch. The full-screen integrated video for Aether’s Cone is slickly produced, pain-stakingly trendy, and explains absolutely nothing. The entire site is like this, with the “How it Works” and “Details” pages offering only the slightest bit more information. It isn’t until the actual product page that viewers learn what it costs, when it will be available, and the technical specs. As of right now, there is no specific funding goal listed on the page, and potential pre-orderers can only put their name on a waiting list for the time being.

The Perks. The Cone is expected to retail at $399, and it is unknown at this time if pre-ordering customers will receive a discount or additional perks. The initial run will ship out in early Summer.

The Potential. Modern and attractive, the Cone is the iPod shuffle of of connected home audio . However, the price seems steep for what it offers. The statement Aether is making about simplicity is clear, but it would be nice to have the capability to tap into playlists so as not to be at the mercy of shuffle, and with support only for devices running iOS 7+ or Mac OSX 10.9+, the user base becomes even further reduced. If music fans already have that kind of tech, they can probably better get by with a high-end Bluetooth speaker that offers the same level of convenience with more direct control and compatibility, albeit maybe not as much style.

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