The final feature worth highlighting is the Pill's connectivity. It charges via USB and has both an audio input and an audio output. Most of these little portable speakers have an input for connecting non-Bluetooth devices, so no biggie there. But the audio output is kind of interesting. It allows you to connect the speaker to AV receiver or amp and stream audio wirelessly from your computer or mobile device to the Pill, which then outputs sound to your home audio system. In other words, the Pill can be used as a pass-through Bluetooth receiver. I'm not sure how many people will bother with this feature since this is first and foremost a mobile speaker. But it may appeal to some folks.
From a sound standpoint, the Pill is comparatively quite decent. It plays very loud for its size -- it can fill a small room with sound -- and offers relatively detailed sound (notice the use of the word "relatively") with respectable bass compared with other tiny speakers in its class. You can augment that bass a bit by moving the speaker closer to a wall or place it in a corner so you get some reflection.
I compared it with both the Jawbone Jambox and the Jabra Solemate and it offered slightly better sound than both. It was clearer and had tighter bass than the Solemate and played louder than the Jambox with less distortion at higher volumes. Speakerphone performance was also good.
Despite that praise, the Pill does have its limitations. By that I mean it just doesn't have the dynamic range of larger speakers, so it will roll off the low end (read: flatten it out) and like a lot of these small speakers it's strongest in the midrange, so it comes out sounding best with lighter fare and acoustical material.
I should also point out that while this is designated as a stereo speaker, since the drivers are so close together you get little to no stereo separation, though the speaker's onboard digital processing does its best to make you think the speaker sounds more open and spacious. I got the best sound by sitting 2 to 3 feet away from it and it serves as a perfectly capable laptop or desktop speaker. I also thought it sounded good with movies; I paired it with an iPad Mini and a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Battery life was decent, not great. I got around 6 hours at modest volume levels. You can do better at lower volumes or worse if you really crank the speaker.
The one performance strike I found against the speaker was that it occasionally cut out on me when I was using it with the iPhone 4S. While I got the occasional Bluetooth hiccup using it with a couple of Android devices, it completely disconnected on me a few times with the iPhone 4S and the connection was generally unstable. I reset my phone and it got a little better, but I still ran into problems. I think this is due to a glitch in iOS 6 where Apple upgraded its Bluetooth profile to the latest version and possibly created a Bluetooth bug so to speak (manufacturers may be forced to upgrade their firmware). Hopefully, this issue will be addressed with a firmware upgrade, or perhaps an iOS upgrade.
My only real gripe about the Pill was the hiccups during playback with my iPhone 4S. That's likely related to Apple's iOS 6 software update, so I'm not ready to blame Beats. But it's hard to rate a product when it works fine with Android devices and encounters some problems with Apple devices.
In other words, if you have an Apple device with iOS 6 on it, you may want to wait until any Bluetooth issues get sorted out before buying this and maybe other Bluetooth speakers (we'll update this review when we hear more). But aside from that caveat, I think the Beats has an impressive design, sounds a bit better than the competition despite its limitations, and has a strong feature set, and its accompanying carrying case is nice.
At $199, it's a little pricey -- it really should be closer to $150 -- but at least Beats didn't bring it out at $250, which would have made it difficult to recommend. As it stands, it's a very well-designed portable Bluetooth speaker. It just needs to work very well with all Bluetooth-enabled devices.