Monday, January 20, 2014

"Invisible" Curved Bluetooth Speaker Looks Great

Eliot Van Buskirk/

One can actually lay eyes on the Clearview Clio, a $350 transparent curved Bluetooth speaker that snatched Engadget’s award for Best Audio Product of CES 2014, after Brian Heater spied it on the CES show floor.

ClearView calls its Clio “the first invisible speaker,” which is patently absurd, and not just because some speakers are built into walls, or are flat-panel paintings — you can clearly see this speaker, because here it is, chilling with some upscale kitchenware:

On the other hand, when viewed from far away, it’s a bit harder to detect:

Maybe it’s good that the Clio isn’t really invisible, because it looks good. But how does it sound?

This unique speaker vibrates air to create sound with ”an ultra-thin, transparent, and gracefully curved acrylic glass membrane.”

But the membrane doesn’t actually generate the vibrations, the way electrostatic speakers do.

Instead, two piezo-electric actuators for left and right move in the base mechanically, vibrating the acrylic glass membrane and sending sound from both sides of the membrane, along its whole curve. Meanwhile, a two-inch subwoofer fires down, making this a sort of 2.1 speaker setup, albeit probably not with a ton of bass.

You can’t really take this thing camping or to the beach, which makes us wonder why it doesn’t use WiFi instead. Bluetooth only has a 30-foot range in most environments, so if you take the phone further away than that, you’ll hear dropouts.

However, Bluetooth does offer a wide range of compatibility with just about any mobile device that can store or stream music, and it works with any app, without requiring any third-party software anywhere. And good news: the Clio is compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 and Enhanced Data Rate, so it sounds better with an iOS 7 iPhone or anything else that can output Bluetooth 4.0 audio.

Judging from Engadget’s award, we can only assume that it sounds pretty good, as it should for $350.

(Images courtesy of Clearview)

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