Beats Pill

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Beats Pill is a line of portable, Bluetooth speakers produced by Beats Electronics. Unveiled in October 2012 as one of Beats' first independently developed products since the end of its manufacturing contract with Monster Cable, the Pill is distinguished by its capsule-like form factor.

The Pill was met with mixed reviews; while the device was praised for its innovative design and capabilities, most criticism was directed towards its inconsistent sound quality and lack of bass, along with its high price.

Design and functionality[edit]

Serving as one of the company's first self-developed products after the end of its exclusive manufacturing deal with Monster Cable Products,[1] the Beats Pill was designed by Robert Brunner's studio Ammunition Design Group, and carries a capsule-based design roughly 7.7 inches (20 cm) in length. Its appearance is characterized by curved surfaces and a gloss finish; company president Luke Wood considered the look to be a design language for Beats' product line, considering it to be "like a car that you immediately know—like, 'Oh that’s an Audi or a Mercedes,' from across the parking lot—you can just tell this reads Beats, even before you see the 'B'." The speaker contains minimal controls; the Beats logo serves as a multi-purpose button for starting and stopping tracks, and the only other buttons are volume keys and the power button. In comparison to competitors such as the Jambox, the Pill does not produce any additional voice or sound effects beyond the audio source being played through it; Wood stated that "As a music fan, I don’t want someone talking over my music."[2][3]

The Pill uses Bluetooth to connect to a device (such as a smartphone), and also supports near-field communication for device pairing. It also includes 3.5mm audio input and output jacks. The Pill charges over a Micro USB port, and comes with a USB AC adapter. The device also includes a microphone so it can be used as a speakerphone.[2][3] The Pill is also an aptX-certified device.[4]

In 2013, updated versions of the Pill, Beats Pill 2.0, were released. The new models have longer battery life, a port for charging other USB devices, the ability to pair Pills together with near-field communication (NFC) to play the same audio either individually, or handling left and right stereo channels respectively, character stands, and a new, larger "XL" version.[5]

Promotion[edit]

Playing off its design, initial marketing for the Pill used the tagline "Just what the doctor ordered".[2] As with other Beats products, the Pill was promoted primarily through celebrity endorsements and product placements in pop music videos, such as Britney Spears' "Work Bitch", where the speaker is used as a ball gag on a dancer in a BDSM-themed scene.[6] In April 2013, a limited edition, Nicki Minaj-branded pink version of the Pill was released, as introduced in her video for "High School".[7]

A commercial for the Pill for RadioShack featuring Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams was released in mid-2013; reprising the music video for "Blurred Lines", it featured what Adweek described as "[Thicke's] accessories—I'm sorry, backup dancers—using the speakers to do more or less everything except speak."[8] The ad was the subject of complaints in the United Kingdom, as some viewers felt the ad was distasteful; however, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled in October 2013 that "taken as a whole, the ad did not show sustained, overtly sexual or provocative behaviour", but still considered it inappropriate to air before 7:30 p.m.[9]

In August 2013, a new ad campaign was launched during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards that introduced anthropomorphic versions of the speakers voiced by musicians such as Chris Rock, Eminem, and Tichina Arnold. Soon after the VMAs, several ads mocking events that occurred during the show itself were released, including one set at Barclays Center (the host venue of the event) referencing Katy Perry's performance at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and a commentary on twerking and Miley Cyrus's controversial performance with Robin Thicke. Incidentally, both Thicke and Cyrus had been involved in prior Beats Pill marketing, as one was also featured in Miley Cyrus's "We Can't Stop" music video.[10][8][11]

In December 2013, a new Beats Pill ad starring Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar was released, which notably featured a preview of a new, unreleased Lamar song from Dr. Dre's upcoming album "Detox".[12]

Following the August 2014 acquisition of Beats by Apple, a new ad was released featuring the Pill characters, in which Siri refuses to invite them to attend a party being held by Dr. Dre to celebrate the deal.[13]

Reception[edit]

The Beats Pill was met with mixed reviews; while praise was received for its hardware design, ease-of-use, and the levels of volume it could produce, the Pill was primarily criticized for its audio quality and price. PC Magazine in particular criticized its handling of bass, concluding that "[it] offers a unique form factor and doubles as a good speakerphone, but it simply doesn't offer good enough sound quality to justify its $200 price tag. While you might get a reasonably loud and clear listening experience on one track, the next might pop distractingly and force you to tweak the volume just because it has slightly more bass."[3] Wired felt that the Pill's difficulty with bass was ironic, given that the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones had emphasized the low-end as its "sonic signature", going on to say that "while acoustic and vocal tracks sounded acceptable, any other genre of music where a drum is involved sounded lifeless and anemic. There’s definitely something to be said for shrinking things down for more portability. But in this case, physics definitely won out over engineering."[14]

CNET was similarly mixed, noting unique features such as its "striking design", NFC support, the ability to serve as a pass-through device for other audio systems, and its "relatively detailed sound (notice the use of the word "relatively") with respectable bass compared with other tiny speakers in its class." However, connectivity issues were noticed with devices running iOS 6, and its review score was later revised from 3.5 to just 3 out of 5, citing the introduction of competing products offering equivalent or better sound quality and a lower price than the Pill.[4]

Recall[edit]

On June 3, 2015, Apple Inc. voluntarily recalled all Beats Pill XL models, citing that in rare cases, the battery may overheat and combust.[15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Beats By Dre Debuts First Post-Monster Cable Products". Billboard. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Dr. Dre's Beats Unveils A Portable Speaker Shaped Like A Pill". Fast Company. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Beats by Dre Pill review". PC Magazine. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Beats Pill review: Mini Bluetooth speaker with some pop". CNET. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Beats pops two new Pills and wireless Studio headphones for the holidays". Digital Trends. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Five product plugs in Britney Spears new 'Work Bitch' video". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Nicki Minaj Teams With Beats by Dre". BET. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Twerking the Hand That Feeds You: Beats Tees Off on Miley Cyrus". Adweek. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines ad for portable speakers banned on U.K. television before 7:30 p.m.". National Post. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "The Beats Pill Talks Lots of Shit in New Advertising Campaign". Village Voice. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Miley Cyrus Goes Hard With The Product Placement For ‘We Can’t Stop’ Video". Radio.com. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre Preview Fierce New Song in 'Beats' Ad". Spin. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Siri won't let Beats into Dr. Dre's party in bizarre new ad". The Verge. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Beats Pill: Is there a doctor in the house?". Wired. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Apple recalls Beats Pill XL speakers over battery fire safety risks". The Guardian. June 3, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  16. ^ http://www.apple.com/support/beats-pillxl-recall/