What: Bose SoundTouch 30

Price: $899

Tech Talk verdict: Happy wife, happy life.

Getting to try out the latest tech gadgets at home may sound good but it’s often disappointing. While these things usually do as promised I’m very seldom unhappy to send them back because I’ve discovered their annoying quirks and shortcomings.

STVery occasionally I get a product I want to buy. The last was an umbrella that stands up to very high winds. Before that it was some noise cancelling headphones in 2004.

Even so I’d been looking forward to getting a Bose SoundTouch 30. I’d used it at its launch and in the shops but home is the acid test. And at home something quite unprecedented happened.

My non-technical, only just iPhone-literate wife played with it for 30 minutes and told me we have to get one. We have to get one. She’s even figured out where it will go.

I’m not arguing. SoundTouch is neat. It’s a high quality speaker system that hooks into your home wireless network and streams music from your phone, your tablet and your computer. Nothing new there, but it also has software built in to get internet radio and Pandora, and Bose says other music libraries are on the way.

We’re big fans of Pandora, a predictive music library that takes your musical preferences and serves up the stuff you like along with stuff it figures you’ll like. It guesses correctly most of the time, especially as it gets to know you, so you have a continuous stream of new and interesting music.

What makes Pandora-through-SoundTouch so compelling is convenience. There are six preset buttons on top and all you do is press one. This starts it up, hooks into whatever the preset is tuned for (one of your Pandora stations, an internet radio station, maybe the music on your phone) and starts playing.

It’s so simple, fast and convenient, and it sounds so good that you tend to use it all the time. Which means the house is always full of music. And when you’ve finished coffee and can’t put off housework any longer changing from background music to Johnny Cash takes one button press.

And it goes so loud, without distortion, that you can hear Mr Cash over the vacuum cleaner, important when he is integral to housework (I’ve found Elvis Costello also works well, as do the Doobie Brothers and Gypsy and the Cat).

Quirks and shortcomings; the set-up, although easy, can take 30 minutes; Start-up station loading often seemed to jam, maybe a firewall issue (flipping between presets got it going). Track information, shown at the start of the track only, is fleeting.

The sound quality, while very bass-oriented, is excellent.

Add extra SoundTouch units and you get music wherever they are too, with the same or different programs.

The only problem I face now is the $899 involved, although there are a couple of cheaper offerings, a portable and the smaller SoundTouch 20 both at $549.


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