Backerjack Podcast #17: Going Kleer, Frankencases, and Android boomboxes

In sweet Episode 17 of the Backerjack Podcast, Steven Sande and Ross Rubin check out some of the latest products seeking funds and preorders:

  • HearNotes, an alternative to Bluetooth headsets that offer higher audio quality and a more reliable connection.
  • Nexpaq, a case for the iPhone and Galaxy S6 that can accommodate up to six modules ranging from flash memory to an alcohol breathalyzer
  • Zwing, a boombox with punch that incorporates an Android-based touchscreen for streaming or playing back local music and movies.

Notes: We discussed Zwing in advance of seeing its Indiegogo project page. The link above points to more details about prcing and expected availability. Also, a similar product, the Zettaly Avy, has contacted its original Kickstarter backers to note that it is ready to ship its devices.

Many thanks to HearNotes for sponsoring this episode! Please support its campaign.

Download  the episode or listen below, subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and follow Backerjack on Twitter and Facebook. Also check out Steve’s great work on Apple World Today!

Connected Objects Music

Auris Zwing implants an Android tablet into a bassy boombox

Once upon a time, the mighty boombox was a staple of audio on the go, a pulsating package of portable partying. When the iPod became a huge hit, a number of battery-powered docking speakers arrived to amplify its extensive music libraries. And more recently, Bluetooth-based products accept streams from smartphones. But the reliance on iPods and smartphones took something away from the mostly self-contained boombox experience.

Those are the days that Auris is trying to recapture and modernize with ithe Zwing, a high-powered (110 dB), bass-tuned portable audio system that features a 7” Android touchscreen between its stereo speakers. Tapping Google Play, the Zwing can access virtually any mainstream music streaming service from a Wi-Fi connection. It can also access video streaming services that it can accompany with powerful audio. At least for music playback, the Auris is rated at 20 hours of battery life, so it should be able to provide the soundtrack through even Charlie Sheen-class blowouts.

The Zwing also has an HDMI connector for easy connection to a TV. And for those who would rather store their music and movies than stream them, it’s offered with up to 32 GB of flash memory plus room for 64 more via microSD. There’s also Bluetooth support for the opportunistic use of a smartphone’s screen versus the Zwing’s. Auris seeks $75,000 in its Flexible Funding campaign (which means it will deliver rewards even if it fails in its goal) due to end June 3rd.

Music Technology

Wily portable boombox releases an Android’s tablet’s inner voice

The Premise. It seems a week doesn’t go by without some company announcing a new portable speaker to tap into the rising tide of inexpensive smart devices such as Android tablets. Those devices today are often bridged using Bluetooth, but it might be more convenient to just have them merged into one.

The Product. The Auris Wily is basically a tablet with built-in sound, enabling it to easily access a wealth of popular audio sources such as Pandora, Spotify and Slacker as well as music stored on its internal flash memory and microSD card. It also has an HDMI connector so you can connect it to a TV and use it to stream video from Netflix, HBO Go or other sources. The curvy speaker even has a few other tricks up its sleeve such as being able to be used as a speakerphone or video chat terminal thanks to an integrated 2 MP front-facing camera. The Wily sports sleek, rounded, futuristic styling, similar to 60’s art-deco furniture; endearing, which is endearing in that tacky Jetsons sort of way. Available in red, white and black, it can also pump the volume thanks to its 90-decibel speakers.

The Pitch. The creators of the Wiley make their case with a video that features high production values, including an orchestral soundtrack and expensive digital transition effects. Detailed pictures of everything from production sketches to user-interface closeups are included and it runs through a detailed list of the products specs.

The Perks. Set to release in June 2014, the Auris Wily will cost early birds $169 for a model with 8 GB of on-board memory, and $188 for 16G. It will be available to backers for $189 for the 8 GB version and $208 for the 16 GB version.

The Potential. Although the Auris Wily logo bears a striking resemblance to that of the “Beats” franchise (Seriously, it looks like they just flipped it over) its design and concept stands out. The Wily comes on the heels of January’s announcement of Vizio’s portable smart audio system, which is heavier (8.8lbs for similar, 7-inch screen option) and has less bass response (60Hz). The Wily could be a fun poolside companion to backers who’d rather keep their smartphones out of the streaming chain this summer.