If you’ve ever passed by an AT&T store and become overwhelmed with the sudden need to purchase Beats by Dr. Dre products, only to grow distraught with the knowledge that Beats couldn’t actually be found there, you’re now in luck: On March 11, AT&T will release an exclusive, special edition Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox. The wireless high performance portable audio system will come in black and white and be available in retail stores and online.
The $399 device, which lifts its name from a previous Beats by Dre boombox released a few years ago, will feature a built-in Dock Connector for all your iDevices, as well as Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to operate on 6 D-cell batteries — for a truly wireless audio experience. The tech specs include a 5.25-inch woofer for the bass-heavy Beats sound you’ve come to expect, as well as a 3.5MM input for your line-in needs. Handles are built in, but we imagine only to help you extract it from its packaging, as no one would really carry something like this around with them.
“The Beatbox Portable is the perfect mobile sound system,” says Luke Wood, President & Chief Operating Officer of Beats by Dr. Dre, in a statement. “In addition to having the advantage of Bluetooth wireless technology and battery-powered portability, the Beatbox Portable delivers the power and emotion found in all Beats By Dr. Dre products.”
It’s no secret that Jimmy Iovine, the co-founder of Beats by Dre (with you guessed it — Dr. Dre) has been positioning his company as a mobile audio brand leader. A recent and acrimonious split from Monster has left the popular headphone maker open to new opportunities, and its strategic $300 million partnership with HTC could herald a new era of high-end mobile audio — if Iovine has anything to say about it: “Music on the cellphone should sound and feel great and we don’t want you to just download bad-sounding MP3s and play them on bad-sounding $3 earbuds,” he told The Los Angeles Times last year. “Why spend hundreds of dollars on a phone or a tablet and listen to music out of $3 earbuds? It just doesn’t add up.”
AT&T also announced it will be pushing an Android 4.0 upgrade to the HTC Vivid smartphone in the coming weeks, which will include an update to HTC’s Sense UI — the long anticipated refresh that will purportedly bring HTC’s Beats audio to third-party music apps. Initially, HTC’s Beats audio feature was limited to its phone’s built-in music player.
In addition to the exclusive Beatbox, AT&T will be adding a few more Beats products to its shelves. Wireless HD Stereo Bluetooth headphones will be available for $280 and feature a built-in microphone and control buttons. The wildly popular Beats Solo HD headphones and UR Beats in-ear headphones will also be available, for $200 and $99, respectively.
“As more customers begin to use their smartphone as their primary portable music device, it becomes more important for them to be able to enjoy premium sound quality no matter where they are,” said Michael Cowan, director, product marketing management – Accessories, AT&T Mobilily, according to the press release. “The Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox gives consumers an opportunity to experience their music in its purest form without sacrificing quality for portability.”
Although it’s always great to have more high-end audio choices for the increasingly itinerant modern music lover, these AT&T/Beats announcements are decidedly more marketing gimmick than audiophile breakthrough. Hey Dre: We’re still waiting for that rumored HTC/Beats streaming audio service.