The Beats Pill by Dre is probably the most talked about of the small bluetooth speaker category. It’s sold millions at the exorbitant price of $200 without even attempting at excellence in any area. The following is my review of the Pill which can most kindly be described as unfavourable.
Opening the box>
The pillbox contains the Pill, a charger (5v 2.1a), some cables for charging and audio connections, and some actually quite thoughtful marketing garble. The marketing garble has some thoughts from Dr. Dre essentially explaining his position, “People aren’t hearing the music!”
While it’s true that people aren’t hearing the music the way it was intended to be heard, the Pill certainly doesn’t help them hear. Turning the Pill on for the first time I spent a good five minutes trying to get it to pair with my Droid, only to find that the sound quality was terrible without a full battery. After charging, it paired with my iPod much more easily but while playing music from my iTunes library the audio would skip fairly regularly. Switching back to my droid; the Pill, having unpaired itself from the first attempt, took another few minutes to hook up. Once that was done it did play without too many hiccups, but with an interface as fast as bluetooth there shouldn’t really be any hiccups at all.
The audio quality is mediocre across the board but what all Beats products lack in audio quality they make up for with their high price point. If you’re listening to your music at a high volume the battery life descends from it’s already modest 4-6 hours, to about 1 hour. It then takes a very long time to charge even with the factory charger which puts out enough power to charge an iPad at maximum rate, and since the speakers sound like they have been stabbed with a pencil when the battery is low, you can’t really listen to it until it has charged for a while. Also, it seems that it’s all the charger can do to maintain current battery levels when the device is in use.
Anyone who is serious about getting good quality out of a bluetooth speaker should buy something that’s $150 cheaper, or wait for something less crappy to come out. Radioshack usually has their Auvio box on sale for $50 and the quality difference is not worth the money. The Auvio is a bit tinny and can’t get the volume of the Beats but it has a real world battery life of more than 8 hours and doesn’t totally suck. When I can reasonably compare Dre’s $200 piece with a Radioshack store brand that costs ¼ as much there is something terribly wrong. If you want good quality or price buy something else. If you want an overpriced status symbol who’s sound quality ranges from absolute shit to ok, then rush out to get the Pill. I give it three out of eight bits.