Want a speaker that catches the eye as well as the ear? The new JBL Pulse 4 aims to do just that, as a lamp-speaker hybrid that shows off flashing, colorful lights while throwing sounds into the room.
The new model design expands the size of the screen, with a full-body look that seems to ape the move towards bezel-less smartphone and TV displays – making for a 360-degree light show alongside its audio output.
One other addition to the Pulse range is the ability to “scan and color match” any object in your home, meaning you can tailor the light being emitted to fit with your decor, whether that’s the duck-egg walls or plush pink cushions all over your home. (Well, our home.)
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The JBL Pulse 4 can sync up with over 100 different JBL models speakers – presumably not at the same time – up to two tablets or smartphones, and can connect to another Pulse 4 speaker by simply being ‘shaken’ in its vicinity.
There’s not much else different here from the JBL Pulse 3, which has the same 12-hour battery life (and IPX7 water resistance) as the Pulse 4 which launched back in 2017. We’d have hoped for some battery life improvement, but you should still get a full day’s (or full night’s) use out of it.
The JBL Pulse 4 will retail at £225 (around $280 / AU$410), and be available in both black and white models – with a much wider color spectrum for the lights themselves. Release date is yet to be confirmed.
Lamps, speakers... what's the difference?
While the JBL Pulse may have been ahead of the curve, there’s a growing trend for speakers that double as lamps or gadgets with other visual / screen-based functionality. Hence the rise in smart displays like the Lenovo Smart Clock, or Amazon Echo Show 5.
Sonos and IKEA have also collaborated on a range of multi-purpose Symfonisk speakers, including a speaker that doubles as a bedside table lamp.
With so many audio, lighting, and smart home gadgets on the market now, buying something that can serve various functions at once seems a good space-saving – and potentially money-saving – strategy. It may mean, however, that speakers like the Pulse 4 find it harder to stand out from the crowd, despite its dazzling colors.