Cycling is great fun and excellent exercise too, but one of the the problems is it can be difficult to grab your phone calls while traveling, especially if you have to keep your concentration on the road. It’s also not that safe to listen to music or phone calls with earbuds or headphones while biking (or even running) especially in areas where there’s lots of traffic. Which means we usually have to make a choice between entertainment, safety or boredom.
This new product, the iStage Mini, is a wireless Bluetooth handsfree speaker set which offers quite a clever solution to these problem, as well as providing some additional utility at home. The unit provides 4 watts of output, supports the latest Bluetooth A2DP and as you can tell from our video review below actually produces a nice rich sound from the rather odd shape.
The device is made in this style to provide two distinct functions. In the first case it acts like a rather elegant smartphone stand. Just prop the phone in between the two speaker pods and you get reasonable stereo separation to boost your paltry handset speakers. But the real beauty of the product comes when you take it out and about, because it can also be worn around the neck, giving you a fully surround sound type experience anywhere you go.
The neck borne idea may seem strange, but it actually works quite well, except for the fact that you will likely end up looking rather strange with the device slung under your ears. But there’s no denying that having your ears free to catch other more sinister sounds (like the sound of a bear chasing you on a hike) makes for a compelling case against wearing earbuds or headphones in uncertain situations.
The product is too new to have an international retailer yet, but the Chinese manufacturer tells us that the retail target price is around 60 Euros ($79 US) which seems reasonable.