A slew of new audio devices were unveiled at CES, joining an already crowded wireless audio market -- with just about every manufacturer showcasing their take on an Airplay or Bluetooth component. I did spot something a bit different though at the RCA booth -- something more versatile and perhaps more useful. Using magnetic coupling, RCA Soundflow speaker docks were able to broadcast sound from your smartphone without wires and without pairing. You simply place any device on top of the stand and enjoy the amplified music almost magically.
Looking no more advanced than the clock radio from my high school days, the RCA Soundflow Wireless Audio dock was a pleasant surprise. You simply place any smartphone on the magnetic mat and audio is transmitted instantly from the phone and to the speaker dock. It's a clever bit of technology that I can see being useful in mixed Android / iOS homes. It eliminates the need to search for docks with the right connector. Micro-USB? Mini-USB? Apple 30-pin? Apple Lightning connector? It doesn't matter. The power of magnetic coupling will essentially transfer the audio from any smartphone rested on top of the devices to the speakers auto-magically.
It's a frustrating experience when your next device uses a new connector -- requiring upgrades to the peripherals and accessories you've gotten accustomed to using. The Soundflow technology will eliminate that, and I see it as a practical, affordable solution for many homes.
The RCA 250 will be available in May for only $29.99. The more svelte designed units (pictured below) will release later in the year in a multitude of attractive colors and finishes.
(Images: Chris Perez)