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Consumer Reports: Wireless Speaker rankings

November 22, 2012 2:09:51 PM PST
Looking for a great gift this holiday season? Consumer Reports just tested wireless speakers. They make it easy to stream music from your smart phone, tablet, or computer without a bunch of wires.

Wireless speakers let you get music from your smart phone or other device to the kitchen counter without any complicated connections.

Consumer Reports tested eight wireless speaker systems that cost anywhere from $200 all the way up to $650. They use either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology.

"Bluetooth speakers work with lots of portable devices, and generally they're pretty easy to set up. But they're really designed to work in the same room as the device that's playing your music," said Jim Willcox.

But if you want to play your music in different rooms, you'll want speakers that work with a Wi-Fi network. You can listen in the kitchen while someone else listens on a second speaker in another room.

"But nearly all Wi-Fi speakers require that you already have an existing home wireless network, and you have to make sure that the speakers are compatible with the devices that you plan to use them with," said Willcox.

The big question, how's the audio quality?

Testers evaluate the speakers in Consumer Reports' audio lab. Monster's Clarity H-D Micro speaker sounded only fair.

But the top speakers have very good audio. For Bluetooth, Consumer Reports recommends the stylish Edifier Spinnaker speaker system for$ 350.

The top-rated Wi-Fi choice, also $350 is the Sonos Play Three system that includes a speaker and wireless adapter. And you can get even better audio quality if you pair two of these speakers, which would bring the cost to $650.

Consumer Reports says another plus with the Sonos Play Three Wi-Fi speakers - you can stream music from dozens of online music services like Pandora and Spotify.

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