Send The Pill Back to The Clinic

Thoughts on The Beats Pillspeaker-pill-black-standard-thrqrtright

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!”

Let’s play>

@connornolteWhile 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.

Bottom line>

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.



Psystar Open(7): Is it Really Cheaper?

Most of us who follow Apple know about the ongoing conflict between Apple and a new Mac Clone company called Psystar. For those who don’t know here’s a quick brief:

After Apple’s transition of Intel processors in 2006, the founder of Psystar was probably thing thinking something like this, “if the Mac OS runs on Intel chips now, what would be stopping me from building my own Mac clone?” So the company of Psystar began building computers saying that Apple’s Macintosh computers were over priced and that theirs were cheaper. Apple then sued Psystar saying that it was unlawful to install Mac OS X on any computer or other device not designed by Apple itself. Psystar counter sued and the outcome of said counter suit is yet to be decided.

So… back to the main topic. Psystar has done a very good job of making their new Open(7) computer appear cheaper than it counterpart at Apple, the MacPr, however when I looked at their site and priced out an Open(7) customized to my specifications, I thought it seemed a little high. Behold the price of a MacPro of similar specs is about $100 cheaper. Why is this? or was it just that configuration?

For all intents and purposes the two computers are about the same. they both run the Mac OS and both run it fast and have loads of storage. When I went looking for a high end mac desktop I wanted at least 600GB of storage and i wanted the fast 3GB per second hard drive. I wanted lots of firewire ports that come on every Apple Mac. I wanted 6GB of RAM and an aluminum enclosure. Everything else standard.

The final thing on my list left me with no option but to buy a Mac Pro from Apple, but I decided to check Psystar to see how much money I was wasting. Here’s what I got:

On the Mac Pro:

  • One 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
  • 3GB (3x1GB)
  • 640GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB
  • One 18x SuperDrive
  • Apple Mighty Mouse
  • Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (English) and User’s Guid


On the Psystar Open(7) I learned that I could not just buy one hard drive to get to my 600GB minimum. So I bought two of the High speed drives. This was what jacked up my price. but here it is:

2.66GHz Quad-Core Xeon Nehalem

two Fast! 300GB 10,000RPM SATA2 Hard Drives.


// <![CDATA[// 802.11n (PCI-E 1x)

USB Bluetooth adapter

Firewire ports.


The reason the Open(7) looks cheaper than the Mac Pro is the fact that with the Mac Pro many of the items that I would’ve had to pay extra for from Psystar, come standard on the Mac. Things like the Keyboard and mouse, bluetooth, extra firewire ports, and then there’s the fact that the hard drives were more expensive because I couldn’t buy just one! Bottom line, Psystar is cheaper in it’s base configuration and probably in some other configurations too, however not in all or even most configurations. Also when you buy an Open(7) you can expect a cheap plastic case held together by screws and filled with lose wires and scattered parts held down by screws and clamps. When you buy a Mac you can expect a sleek Aluminum case held together firmly by Torx bits, with an equally sleek and accessible design on the inside. With the Mac it is simple and quick to replace or upgrade parts. With an Open(7) it would be a long frustrating experience involving many tangled wires and stripped screws.
MacPro insides!