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Belkin's Thunderstorm speaker dock brings room-filling audio to iPad

post #1 of 15
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In showing off their wares, companies sometimes put product reps in odd positions, but mild sensory deprivation isn't terribly common. So it was novel to find myself in a soundproof booth with a Belkin representative, checking out the Thunderstorm. "I have no idea what's been going on outside this room all day," he admitted to me before starting the demo.

Belkin Thunderstorm


He'd been in the booth since the show started this morning. It was, after all, a popular exhibit, earning a Best of Show award from Macworld/iWorld's organizers on Friday.

The booth was soundproofed in order to give visitors a taste of just what the Thunderstorm ($199, Amazon) brings to the table. It's a speaker attachment that plugs into the iPad's dock connector, wrapping around the tablet and turning the thin and tinny sound of the device into a fuller, more tangible audio experience. Or so the pitch goes.

With the door securely closed, the dull, ever-present murmur of the Macworld show floor disappeared. He moved immediately into the demo, playing sound from the Skyfall trailer out of the iPad's normal speakers. In thin, unaltered iPad audio, Daniel Craig glowered and fought, and Judi Dench dryly gave kill orders.

Right about the point where Naomie Harris puts a bullet into Craig, he plugged in the Thunderstorm's connector. The difference was audible. He advised me to pick up the unit, and I did, just as the MGM lion roared.

Belkin constructed the unit so that it sends air along channels built into it, producing a rumbling effect. The difference is literally tangible.

Belkin


It is, of course, something one has to experience in person to get the full effect. Suffice it to say, the lengths to which Belkin went to demonstrate the tech are justified. It's not a home theater audio experience, of course, but compared to what one gets out of the standard iPad speakers, it might as well be.

There was, for once, no one waiting in line for the Thunderstorm experience, so we lingered in the soundproofed room for a while. With the Bond trailer over, the quiet of the room was a welcome respite from the thousand other conversations on the convention floor. The attendant did turn on more music, West Coast hyphy pounding out of the Thunderstorm's speakers.

Belkin Rep


Eventually, I had to move on. There's a lot of "Best in Show" to cover. Going for the door, though, I found it stuck fast. The Thunderbolt experience was fun, but the prospect of filing the rest of my Macworld coverage from a soundproof room was unappealing. The attendant was unperturbed.

"Happens probably about twice an hour," he said, putting his shoulder into the door three or four times. The door finally budged, and I sighed in relief.

"Hazards of the job," he said, rubbing his shoulder, and I was on my way.
post #2 of 15

Mikey, He likes it!

post #3 of 15

That's two articles so far today (HP is the other one) that read more like paid-placement than typical news (or rumor) articles. What the heck? Is AI doing ads couched as news now or just a couple of oddly written articles happened to hit in the same day?


Edited by Gatorguy - 2/1/13 at 6:40pm
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post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

That's two articles so far today (HP is the other one) that read more like paid-placement than typical news (or rumor) articles. What the heck? Is AI doing ads couched as news now or just a couple of oddly written articles happened to hit in the same day?

It looks like they're just trying more of a blog format for the conference news. I don't think it's that big of a deal and I actually like it better than some of the "formal" pieces they write, since they too often use the same phrasing repeatedly (and sometimes awkwardly and almost incorrectly). I don't see it as an ad, just a story-like recount of their experience.

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

It looks like they're just trying more of a blog format for the conference news. I don't think it's that big of a deal and I actually like it better than some of the "formal" pieces they write, since they too often use the same phrasing repeatedly (and sometimes awkwardly and almost incorrectly). I don't see it as an ad, just a story-like recount of their experience.

I like it better, too. I'll often read about a topic on MR and then come to AI to join in the forum discussion. Sometimes an article needs to only be a paragraph or two and not have a recap of the history behind it.

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

It looks like they're just trying more of a blog format for the conference news. I don't think it's that big of a deal and I actually like it better than some of the "formal" pieces they write, since they too often use the same phrasing repeatedly (and sometimes awkwardly and almost incorrectly). I don't see it as an ad, just a story-like recount of their experience.

I wish they would just save it for Facebook or Twitter or whatever. There are plenty of sites for "I almost got stuck in the Thunderstorm room" and "wow - it actually rumbles" kinds of posts without taking up space on news sites.

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

I wish they would just save it for Facebook or Twitter or whatever. There are plenty of sites for "I almost got stuck in the Thunderstorm room" and "wow - it actually rumbles" kinds of posts without taking up space on news sites.
I like it. One less digitimes post is a win for me.

2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
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2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

That's two articles so far today (HP is the other one) that read more like paid-placement than typical news (or rumor) articles. What the heck? Is AI doing ads couched as news now or just a couple of oddly written articles happened to hit in the same day?

I liked both articles. They had a fun casual tone and seemed like they were just things that the author experienced.
post #9 of 15

I'm sure it sounds great but it seems both awkward and ugly to me.  It's a bit of a fib to call this a "dock" it's really more like a case.  

 

You'd have to have the iPad stuck in that giant thing the whole time, and it doesn't look like it easily or quickly plugs in and out.  

post #10 of 15

Seems like the new guy has a different writing style. He used to be a writer at electronista.com and was a freelance writer before that.

I quite like it, makes it a bit more personal and easier to read.

post #11 of 15
How about *spolier alert* before the Skyfall plot example? Sheesh.
post #12 of 15
So back the the point of the article. New product...

So this is only available for iPad 2 and 3? Does that mean we are still waiting on a lightning version? If so, when?
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by AkamaiGuy View Post
How about *spolier alert* before the Skyfall plot example? Sheesh.

 

Pretty sure those aren't needed for content in a trailer

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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I'm sure it sounds great but it seems both awkward and ugly to me.  It's a bit of a fib to call this a "dock" it's really more like a case.  

You'd have to have the iPad stuck in that giant thing the whole time, and it doesn't look like it easily or quickly plugs in and out.  

Complete tablets cost as much as this speaker case/dock, though not the same size as Apple's tablets. This product shouldn't even be necessary. If Apple had speakers on opposite edges of their tablet to make video watching much more comfortable, this might not have been offered. That's my only complaint of Apple's iPad line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

I liked both articles. They had a fun casual tone and seemed like they were just things that the author experienced.

At least he didn't talk about how hungry he was. In this article, anyway. His printer article was a different story on that bit.
post #15 of 15

Thats why I don't watch trailers either. I hate when it they give away the good parts!

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