A few weeks ago, Gear Live threw down and kicked off the holiday season with the 2014 Gear Live Holiday Bash, and now we've got the pictures to prove it. At the event, I presented my picks for the best holiday gadgets, along with help from my friends Jess Estrada (of FreshJess), GeekWire, Drew Morrison, and New Tech Seattle. We had Seattle's VellVett perform, as well as "Kid Sensation" Xola Malik. Blitz, the mascot for the current Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, made an appearance as well. It was a great night full of food, music, and gadgets giveaways.
We've got to give a warm shout-out to the sponsors who helped make the 2014 Gear Live Holiday Bash possible, and sending the attendees home with awesome gifts: Monster, AT&T Seattle, and Rhapsody.
Click on over to check out the full 2014 Gear Live Holiday Bash photo gallery.
Sonos has earned two spots in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, because the Playbar is just so fantastic. Soundbars are typically designed to replace your HDTV's anemic speakers. The Sonos Playbar does that, but but also has a much cooler additional function: It integrates with all the rest of the Sonos multiroom audio system lineup (some of which has already appeared in our Holiday Gift Guide!), streaming music from your Mac, PC, smartphone, and subscription online services. Pair it up with a Sonos SUB and a couple of Play:1 units and you've got a bonafide wireless surround sound system.
You can pick up the Sonos Playbar now from Amazon for $699, and they'll even throw in a free Sonos BRIDGE accessory as well.
Read More | Sonos Playbar
We're music fans here at Gear Live (seriously, check out the Gear Live Rdio channel!) so we wanna make sure to include great music gadgets in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide. This year, we're kicking it off with the Sonos PLAY:1. If you're unfamiliar with Sonos, it's basically the best way to get music from just about any location (your computer, your iPhone, the web, the cloud, etc.) to play in any room in your house. It's super intuitive, and even years after using Sonos, the technology still blows us away. The Sonos PLAY:1 is a wireless all-in-one music system that lets you jump right into the Sonos experience. If you have an iOS or Android device, you can download the Sonos remote control app, and you can also control the system with a computer using the Sonos Desktop Controller. Here are some other Sonos products that go nicely with the Sonos PLAY:1, which itself you can get for $199 from Sonos, or order from Amazon and get a free Sonos Bridge included with purchase!
You can use a pair of Play:1, Play:3, or Play:5 units to create wide stereo sound as well!
We've been huge Sonos fans here at Gear Live for years, but if there's one niggle we've heard complaints about from users more than any other, it's that you have to plug in one Sonos component into your wired network. Normally, this would mean buying the Sonos Bridge in addition to whatever speaker components you'd want to place throughout your home, because it's rare that the place you want to put your Sonos device just happens to be where your networking equipment is. The result? You'd have to pay $50 for the Bridge, upping the price of entry.
Well, now Sonos is set to change how it handles creating its SonosNet wireless mesh network, which is the way that Sonos components communicate with each other. "We've found a way to deliver all the benefits of SonosNet without a product directly connected to your router," the company said in a blog post. The best part? All that will be required is a software update, so existing Sonos owners will be able to ditch the wired requirement as well, once the update goes public.
With the new method, you plug a Sonos component in and then fire up the Sonos app on your smartphone or tablet. Then you simply select your Wi-Fi network, put in your password, and Sonos jumps on and takes care of the rest. As long as you don't have a huge house with Sonos components spread so far apart that the wireless signal can't talk to each other (and that would have to be a pretty big house), you are golden. Sonos is launching a beta program to allow those interested to try it out and find any bugs before pushing it out to the masses.
You can check out the Sonos product line-up now.
Read More | Sonos Beta
We open up the new Sonos Play:1 in this episode, the entry-level wireless speaker from Sonos that costs $199. You're now able to get into the Sonos ecosystem at a lower cost, streaming your music from iTunes, Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, radio, and more! Check out the new hotness in this episode of Unboxing Live.
You can pick up the Sonos Play:1 now from Amazon.
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2013 is set to come to a close in just a few hours, and we are just in time with our annual top 10 list of the most-watched Gear Live video episodes. Over the past year, as expected, there was a bunch of Apple gear that made the list, while the Monster Tuxedo DNA headphones proved popular as well. Other products that made the list include Sonos Playbar, Microsoft's white Xbox One, and a few others.
They say music is the universal language, and as music lovers ourselves, we think it's one of the best gifts that you can give, and we're putting it in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. Rather than grabbing an iTunes gift card, or worse, a random CD from the bargain bin, we recommend hitting your loves ones up with Rdio gift subscriptions. Why? It allows the user unlimited access to the entire Rdio music streaming catalog. That means on-demand access to millions of tracks from the web, iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and even your Sonos system. Rdio costs $9.99 per month for full access. We love it--check out Gear Live on Rdio!
We are giving away three 3-month subscriptions to Rdio to our readers as well! To enter, all you need to do is:
- Follow Gear Live on Twitter
- Tweet the following message: "Hey @GearLive - hook me up with that free @Rdio subscription! http://gear.lv/SEjTdi" (Click here to tweet this now!)
Good luck to all entrants, and be sure to look through the rest of our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide for more giveaways!
Read More | Rdio
Sonos has formally announced the new Play:1 wireless speaker, bringing the price of entry into the Sonos world down to $199. This is a welcome addition to the lineup of what Gear Live considers to be the best speaker system on the planet, making it more affordable to get into. Even better, those who pick up the Play:1 between now and the end of 2013 will also get a free Sonos Bridge thrown in ($50 value) to get the system going.
A custom-designed mid-woofer and tweeter deliver deep, rich and surprisingly big sound. With a powerful low-end and crisp mids and highs, new smart processing technology pushes Sonos’ drivers further than ever before, minimizing distortion even at full volume. Plus, PLAY:1 projects a wide field of sound, delivering a great listening experience no matter where you are sitting in the room.
The new Sonos Play:1 is available in two colors (black and white,) and maintains the same feature set as the other Sonos standalone wireless speakers--it's just smaller, with two drivers (despite the name) powering the sound. There's a 3.5-inch extended-throw mid-woofer paired with an extended-throw tweeter. You can grab two of them and create a true stereo pair with audio separation for even better sound, or pair two of them with a Sonos SUB for even better bass. Heck, throw two Play:1 units, the SUB, and the Sonos Playbar together and you have a fantastic 5.1 wireless surround sound system that you can also use to play your music (see our Sonos Playbar review.) Or, just grab one Play:1 and put it in the kitchen or bathroom as an extra Sonos zone--they're wall-mountable and humidity-resistant.
The Sonos Play:1 is available now throughout the US, and will see its international release on October 29. Again, you can pick up the Play:1 now and get a free Sonos Bridge thrown in if you buy before the end of the year.
Read More | Sonos Play:1
We chat with Play-Fi in this episode, a company focused on helping you enjoy your music in any room, no matter where you are in your home. Play-Fi allows you to use either their speakers, speakers from third-parties with Play-Fi built-in, or their receiver which can be connected to any analog speaker, and you are done. The devices connect to your Wi-Fi network, and you can then stream content from your Windows 8 tablet or PC, as well as your Android devices, directly to any Play-Fi speaker on your network. Get a look at how it all works here in this episode, and get a look at Kelsie dancing as well.
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Last week we hit you with our Sonos Playbar review, and we let you know that we would have the Playbar unboxing video up shortly. Well, here it is. As you know, we got an early look at the Sonos Playbar, and we open it up and give you an overview review in this episode of Unboxing Live! The Sonos Playbar fits right in to your home theater setup, providing you with 3.0 sound. Add in the Sonos SUB for 3.1, or a SUB and two PLAY:3 speakers for full 5.1 surround. The Playbar is the best soundbar out there as far as features go.
You can buy the Sonos Playbar for $699.