The Beats by Dr Dre Beats Pill Bluetooth speaker is light, portable and packs in four 1-inch drivers and NFC technology, but can it deliver?
Beats by Dre transformed the headphone market with standout looks, bass devouring quality and cool musical heritage, but with the superb Jawbone Jambox, Philips Shoqbox and Braven 600 already impressing, can the Beats Pill offer anything new to the Bluetooth speaker market?
Beats Pill: Size and build
Measuring 19cm long, 4.5cm across and weighing 0.31kg, the Beats Pill is slightly longer and considerably slimmer than the Jambox. It comes with a snug fitting case and carabineer clip making it neatly portable.
Build quality is solid, with rigid metal grills and rubberised plastic middle section and back. It’s available in black, white and red.
The Beats Pill looks good, but unlike the Beats headphones it lacks a ‘wow’ factor. Fan boys will love the red glowing ‘b’ but it just isn’t all that exciting. With the Libratone Zipp featuring Cashmere cladding and the Jabra Solemate sporting sneaker treads, the Beats Pill feels a bit 2010.
Beats Pill: Controls and connections
Setting up the Beats Pill is as easy as it should be. If you’ve got a smartphone/tablet with NFC technology, just turn on your Bluetooth, touch it on the discrete NFC logo and the Beats Pill will do the rest. For everyone else, just push the big red ‘b’ and pairing should be seamless.
Controls are minimal with power, volume and pairing buttons. There’s a MicroUSB port for charging and 3.5mm line in and out for wired connections.
In the box you also get a good quality – Beats Studio style 1.5m, 3.5mm to 3.5mm, cable USB 2.0 charging/data cable and AC power adapter.
Beats Pill: Calls
Making and receiving calls using the Beats Pill is good, although you might find the quoted 30m range a little ambitious. The built-in speaker sounds fine and volume levels stay consistent, so you’re not deafened when your Mum calls.
Beats Pill: Battery
With a quoted battery life of seven hours the Beats Pill is a little sickly compared to the 10hr Jawbone Jambox. Not a disaster, and more than sufficient for a day Chillin’, Chillin’, Chillin’.
Beats Pill: Sound quality
For a small, portable speaker the Beats Pill sounds great. On a par with the Jambox and quite a bit cheaper, it offers a fine Bluetooth alternative. And it's impressively loud for the size, with enough grunt to annoy the neighbours.
But the Beats Pill has one major flaw; it can’t handle bass. In fairness it tackles the big beats and driving low frequencies about as well as the competition, but for a company designed, built and promoted around the promise of delivering dance music ‘as the artist intended’ we expected so much more.
Beats Pill: Verdict
With its slender styling, competitive pricing, solid build and Beats by Dr. Dre branding the Beats Pill will sell faster than Viagra. It’s a neat proposition with excellent packaging, quality peripherals and seamless NFC connectivity.
If you’re looking for a portable speaker with simple controls, effortless connectivity and better than average sound you’ll not be disappointed, but if you’re expecting Dr. Dre inspired trouser flapping bass don’t be surprised when it all goes a bit limp.
Beats Pill release date: 14 January 2013, available to Pre-Order now
Beats Pill: £144.99
Review by Chris Haslam