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CES 2013: Bem Speaker Trio makes wireless audio easy (review)

It looks tacky to run audio cables all over the house, but with the Bem Speaker Trio you can easily provide audio all over. The Bem Speaker Trio performed well during a recent New Year's party and is a good mobile solution.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 9 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Bem Speaker Trio retail package

I have been testing out a lot of speakers lately and most are large single units or ones that perform in pairs (left and right channel effect). Bem Wireless sent along their newly announced Speaker Trio for me to check out for a couple of weeks and I had the chance to use it over the New Year's holiday. This new speaker setup makes it easy to enjoy audio in one room or around an entire house thanks to its wireless technology and rechargeable speaker units.

The Bem Speaker Trio setup consists of a base platform (approximately 18 x 7 x 1 inches in size) and three portable wireless speakers. The base unit is plugged in with the included wall charger and then each speaker is placed down on one of the three available charging plates. There are aux in and aux out ports on the base unit with a power button and a Bluetooth indicator light. You will see a metal circle on the base platform and on the bottom of each speaker (about 6 x 6 x 6 inches in size) and this is the connection that charges each speaker up. When you first place the speakers on the base and start charging you will see a red light appear under the speaker during the charging phase and continue flashing. When all speakes are charged, about 3.5 hours, the light will go off.

After charging, you then need to connect the speakers to your mobile device and you can do this via Bluetooth or via a wired connection to the aux port using the included aux cable. There is no NFC in this speaker system so you have to pair using a standard Bluetooth setup process. Since there are three speakers to connect with, you have to first power on each speaker individually (there is a power button on the bottom) and then power on the base unit. Be aware, a LOUD, annoying tone sounds after you turn on the speakers before the base unit is powered on that had my dogs barking like crazy. After the base is powered on then you will need to connect your device to it via Bluetooth. Once the connection is established then you simply start playing your media.

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2 of 9 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Inside the retail package

Now that media is playing through the three speakers you can move them around the room, house, or office as you see fit. The base and speaker are covered in soft touch material so there are no unsightly fingerprints or glare and the speakers do not slide around on a table. Your audio source needs to be within 25 feet or so of the base platform, but the speakers can then be placed up to 120 feet away. I have a tri-level single family house and put on in the rec room downstairs, one in the living room in the mid level and one in the kitchen in the mid level and they all three played well. Sound started breaking up a bit as I took the kitchen one and went to the edge of my house away from the base platform to the dining room (something like 40 feet away through two structurall walls) so the 120 feet distance seems a bit optimistic for a typical house with walls and other wireless signals. The speakers connect to the base station through a 2.4 GHz connection.

I kept the speakers playing music for the entire time of my New Year's party and the stated battery life of about 6 hours seems to be accurate. It was very convenient to control the volume level of each speaker (there are touch sensitive buttons on one side) and be able to pick one up and move it around to a more convenient place to enjoy the output. The bottom of the speaker lights up in white when turned on to give it a nice effect and help you find the black speaker when you place it somewhere to enjoy. Audio quality wasn't as good as I have heard from some other single Bluetooth speakers, but given the wide wireless range I was quite impressed. These speakers are very convenient and rather than having to run cables all over the house and go through a crazy setup process it was dead simple to charge them up and drop them in different locations for the party. You can purchase the Bem Speaker Trio for $299.99.

Related ZDNet coverage

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Speakers on the charging platform

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Top of the speakers and bottom of the charging platform

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Power and aux ports on the base station

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Touch sensitive volume buttons on each speaker

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Charging contact on bottom of the speaker and on the base

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Bottom of the speaker in action

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White light as the speaker is playing

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