- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It was either physicist Niels Bohr or baseball’s Yogi Berra — take your pick — who declared, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” That said, I’m going to make a prediction anyway: the Zooka Speaker Bar, priced at $99, will be a runaway hit this holiday season.

You can’t order one just yet, but the device should be available soon via the maker’s website, www.carbonaudioinc.com, and in Apple Inc.’s retail stores this fall. If they’re smart, Amazon.com Inc. and Best Buy Co. Inc. will snap this up as well.

Here is why I’m bullish on Zooka: You can cradle in every generation of the iPad,use the Zooka as a stand, and get amazing stereo sound via a Bluetooth connection. Pair it with an iPhone (or, I would imagine, any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone), and the Zooka becomes a speakerphone along with the stereo sound capabilities.

Have a laptop? The Zooka Sound Bar will fit nicely on the top of the display panels of most portables and, again, you’re in audio heaven.

Setting up and using the device is exceptionally easy: Charge it via the USB cable that is supplied, and it will deliver about eight hours of battery life. Pair it with the intended Bluetooth device and — presto — you’re ready to go. A small metal peg that screws into the back of the device provides the stand-up feature.

Now, I know the whole idea behind iPhones, iPods and iPads is to make your entertainment personal: That is why there are headphones and earbuds for the Metro, and why you wouldn’t want to crank up the Zooka Sound Bar underground. But at home, in the office — a real office, not a cubicle — and for presentations around a small conference table, as well as at parties, this could be quite popular.

While the sound is very attractive, so is the design, which will be available in a rainbow of colors. At a list price of $99, it’s the kind of item that many can pick up on a whim, I’m guessing. When they do, they will be pleasantly surprised with what they hear.

As I said, predictions are difficult. But I feel confident that the Zooka Sound Bar will be a holiday-time hit. You might want to order, or pre-order, early.

Once again, let me say that this is another reason why portable technology and entertainment are merging more and more these days. I believe the greatest technology revolution of 2012 will be less blending of devices and content. Whether it’s music, movies or TV shows, having needs available where one wants when one wants is going to be, if it isn’t already, the next big thing.

Those of us watching the 2012 Olympic Games have sensed this already through seemingly endless airings of Comcast’s commercials for its Xfinity service, touting the ability to watch shows anywhere, or answer your home phone in the park, and so forth. Other service providers aren’t holding back: Verizon’s FiOS subscribers can access HBO programming on their portable devices, and the Aereo service described here recently will be in the Washington metro area before you know it.

If time shifting is your thing, check out the G2 Reporter radio from Eton Corp., https://bit.ly/OQCsq5, marketed under the Grundig brand name. This is a portable stereo radio that delivers AM, FM and shortwave bands. Digital tuning is standard, along with the ability to pre-program desired stations. Power comes from a rechargeable (via USB) battery.

What makes this product worth the $150 list price (shaved to less than $110 at Amazon.com), in my view, is that it will record radio programs for you and store them on the internal 4GB of memory that comes with the unit. A slot for a microSD memory card will boost storage by as much as 16GB. A built-in microphone can record conversations or lectures.

File transfer to a computer is accomplished either via the memory card or a USB connection. The G3 Reporter isn’t pocket-sized, but it does deliver a lot of performance for a decent price.

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