By Don Lindich
Week 14, 2015
Q. I want to get a big Bluetooth speaker. What do you think is the loudest one?
-Brennan H., Denver, CO
A. I have not tested enough of them to know what the loudest Bluetooth single-piece speaker is, and frankly I would choose one for sound quality, not loudness. f you are looking for an absolutely great-sounding, premium Bluetooth speaker that will fill a decent-sized room with wonderful sound, I recently tried one that stole my heart.
The Bluetone 100 comes from British hi-fi manufacturer Cambridge Audio, a company I have praised recently for their excellent electronics. The Bluetone 100 is several times larger than the typical small Bluetooth speaker and has analog inputs as well as an adjustable bass control. What really makes it stand out is its sound. Wow! It is warm, clear, detailed, and lively, with solid bass and low distortion throughout. I played some Mariachi music from my iPhone and I felt like the band was in the room. The song is “Caminos de Michoacan” from Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan if you want to try it at home. The Bluetone 100 is $299 and worth every cent. www.cambridgeaudio.com
Super luggage: every once in a while I come across a product so great that I have to tell the world about it, even when I do not have a question to match. I recently tried a carry-on bag that is a traveler’s dream come true, especially if you travel with lots of electronics like I do.
I take several international trips, and many domestic trips every year. For years I have used the Hartmann Walnut Tweed luggage, which I loved for its durability and classic American style. I have many pieces, including some vintage bags and suitcases that were made in their Tennessee factory and some more modern pieces that were made in China. The Chinese-made luggage has not held up nearly as well as, especially my carry-on bag. Samsonite bought Hartmann a few years ago and the line is now called “Tweed Belting” and I do not like it nearly as much, and it still carries a very premium price. So, since I was updating I looked for a new carry-on that is electronics-friendly, too.
The ecbc Pegasus is a rolling carry-in bag that converts to a backpack. The backpack straps are well-hidden and completely enclosed so they never get in the way or come loose when you are using it as a rolling bag. The bag itself is heavy duty and flawlessly stitched together at least as good as my last Chinese Hartmann pieces. The material and component parts, including the self-repairing YKK zippers, all feel top-notch.
The ecbc is a great bag, but what makes it really special is the FastPass system. The front opens up and there are TSA-friendly dividers for your laptop, tablet, phone, and accessories. Just open up your bag and put it on the X-ray conveyer belt. No more unpacking, gray plastic trays and repacking. It’s just great. It even includes a built-in charger so you can charge your gear while it is packed away.
The ecbc Pegasus sells for $399 and is available in five colors and I got mine in blue. It does not match my Walnut Tweed luggage, but over time I can see myself replacing my old luggage with ecbc gear as it wears out. See the Pegasus and other ecbc bags at www.ec-bc.com.