Categories: Columnists Blog Spotlight

REVIEW: Can this be a sound road companion?

I must admit I eyed the Bose SoundWear Companion quite suspiciously at first. It actually looks like a deflated travel pillow like those you put around your neck when expecting a long flight in coach. And how it freaked me out when I discovered its articulation that allowed you to bend it and twist it so many, well, freakish ways so you can comfortably nestle it on your shoulder.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The SoundWear Companion is technically a “wearable speaker” that, says the American audio equipment maker, is designed to offer the best of both worlds – convenience and connection – “in a way that allows you to be present with your music as well as your surroundings.” The weight is just enough to let you know it’s there — and that the product is no fly-by-night novelty.

Wait, isn’t that what headphones are for? Well, the key difference here is that headphones – whether over-ear or earbuds – are, by design, meant to shut out (particularly models with noise-cancelling technology) the outside world.

You can trip out on music without being shut out from the world. Now there’s an idea.

The SoundWear Companion, because of its fair distance from your ears, lets you enjoy music while being in the here and now. You can do your household chores while listening to your favorite tune, even as you are aware of your surroundings. People can actually talk to you as you trip on your favorite song. Of course, we know how dangerous it is to be plugged into your devices while, say, crossing a street or negotiating a sidewalk. Many people have gone viral this way.

Now you might ask, so will the whole world know what I’m listening to? The quick answer is no – unless you crank the music way up. And, hello, that’s not very nice, right? At any rate, Bose designed the music to be angled your way so there’s not much sound that leaches away from you.

The net effect of the SoundWear Companion is having your own personal elevator music (I mean really good elevator music) with you all the time. And because there’s no contact with your earlobes or ear canal, there’s no chafing, irritation, and fatigue.

Bose says the speaker benefits from two 28-centimeter “waveguides” that allow the SoundWear Companion to generate deep, rich sound. Indeed, you don’t get tinny tunes like those blurted out by some wussy Bluetooth speakers.

Speaking of which, this Bose device pairs with your mobile devices using Bluetooth technology. You can do this task with voice prompts. Charging is via a Micro-B USB port, and the SoundWear Companion boasts a hefty 30-feet range, and a charging time of up to three hours.

Battery life is a respectable 12 hours for a full charge.

Now here’s an idea: Owing to the fact that the SoundWear Companion doesn’t shut your ears out from the outside world, it can indeed be used as a personal music box when you’re driving around.

What about your vehicle’s sound system, you ask? Hold your horses; we’re going somewhere with this. What if you have a rather dated infotainment system that doesn’t have a hands-free function with which you could pair and use your mobile phone? Ah! Now that’s the exact pinch where the Companion can be your, um, companion.

Make hands-free calls and hear (and be heard by) the person on the other end of the line clearly without having to fiddle with your phone and risk a ticket – or an accident. If you feel like talking to Siri, why, go ahead! Ask a question via the SoundWear Companion, and you’ll get one pronto.

An additional perk: When you go to a gas station to take a leak or buy something from the convenience store, your music (or conversation) doesn’t have to stop because you’ve alighted from the car. You just take it with you.

A smarter (or more entertaining) collar hasn’t been invented, for sure.

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