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The Acoustic Trail

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If you've longed to pick up the Bose SoundDocks but didn't want to lock yourself down to a proprietary dock format, there's hope yet. Bose's latest SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker builds on the SoundDock pedigree but eschews the dock for a wireless solution using the standard Bluetooth A2DP wireless stereo profile commonly found in most mobile devices. This is an immensely useful decision since it places your iPod/phone back into your hands instead of a fidgety remote that never quite matches the touchscreen ease-of-use.
Open it up and you'll be most certainly taken aback by its diminutive size. It looks like it could be thrown into a backpack and carried everywhere, and it mostly can with its 4-7 hour battery life (battery life varies with playback volume). With the speaker grill across its front face, it does look a little dated until you switch it on and the glowing lights and Bluetooth indicator remind you this is very much a 2011 product.  Controls are placed on the side and there's a very neat cover, made of nylon or leather, which closes the SoundLink for portability and durability.  The cover acts much like the iPad's Smart Cover in that it doubles as a stand and shuts off the SoundLink when closed, and flips around to form the base for a stand when open.
The device can pair with 6 Bluetooth devices, though you'll need to disconnect (by turning Bluetooth off) the first device in order to add a new one. AirPlay, Apple's proprietary standard for wireless streaming of audio, video, and photos that's currently the buzzword in wireless streaming circles isn't supported though, and I expect some cheer from the non-Apple readers for this conscious choice. It does ship with an auxiliary port for wired playback from non-Bluetooth devices.
Does its size, possibly its biggest draw, affect its sound quality? Across the frequency range, the sound was nice and detailed, and it goes quite loud (for its size) without distorting. The SoundLink is built around four neodymium transducers to handle the mid-to-high frequency range, and two passive radiators to take care of the bass frequencies. The radiators face each other inside the shell of the system, which makes them cancel each other's vibrations out—a smart way to both add a bit more low end response and make sure the SoundLink doesn't buzz across the tabletop on songs with heavier bass. All in all, It's undeniable that the SoundLink offers considerable power for its size, and the low-end response at medium volumes makes this perfect for a multitude of applications – carrying it along with you for a business trip, using it with your laptop or iPad to add some volume, or just taking it to the beach or somewhere equally disconnected and not having to compromise on the quality of music that goes along with you.
If there is a downside, it is that due to its size, there is an impact on stereo separation, the ability for the listener to discern left and right channels. If you haven't got yourself a portable speaker or a music dock yet, I'd strongly recommend you give this a try – it's portable enough to travel with you from room to room in the house, or on the road should you need.
Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs 19,013 (with nylon cover) or Rs 23,513 (LX model with leather cover)

Equipped For Celebration
Hold on a second… we're eleven years into the new millennia! So along with the lip-smacking food and the loudspeakers drumming up a gala frenzy, it's about right that we throw in a dash of tech as well! Here are some gadgets you should not be caught without, and some suggestions on how to make the best use of these in your festive break!
Got a smartphone? Perfect. You can use the built-in GPS functions on most smartphones to go around town posting your location via the Facebook app or foursquare, or better still, use the Google Latitude app to tell your friends where you are and keep track of their location. Let the impromptu parties begin!
Lost getting from Point A to Point B? The same GPS and the Maps app in your phone can not only quickly guide to you to each of the many pandals you intend to visit, but also tag your photos with the location alongside so you can see them categorised later on a map!
Now, using your phone all day is bound to drain the battery down to precarious levels, and you wouldn't want to be the one with a dead cellphone when everyone's coordinating to make plans well into the night, now would you? Pick up one of many portable USB-based phone-charging solutions, such as the ones from Mophie, and carry your phone cable along with you. That way, a quick pit stop will give your phone battery enough bars to last till the wee hours of the morning!
Entertaining people at home? Pick up the new range of ambiance accessories from Philips – perhaps a glowing LED-lit wine cooler or a vase to set the mood, or how about a bottom-lit serving plate or coasters! Just prepare for your party to be the talk of your circle!
Snap some pics and don't want to crowd around the tiny camera screen? If you've followed my advice and snagged yourself an iPad recently, pick up the iPad Camera Connection Kit to quickly transfer your photos from the camera or memory card onto the iPad, and then share out to the world!
Turn a long drive or a meetup at home into a party, with portable sound solutions such as the Bose SoundLink I've looked at today. With all the din outside, let's make some noise of our own now, shall we?
And when you're out shopping, keep an eye out for all the festive offers going around, if there's been a gadget you've eyed for a while now, there's a good chance you could score a deal or two. Try out the Android app TaazzaGo for the latest deals around your pincode.

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