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Hands-on with the ClearView Audio Clio, a transparent Bluetooth speaker (pictures)

The ClearView Audio Clio features a 1mm-thin acrylic glass transducer that practically disappears at many angles.

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Matthew_Moskovciak.jpg

Matthew Moskovciak

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1 of 12 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

ClearView Audio Clio, a transparent Bluetooth speaker

Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes, but the Clio is one of the most distinctive designs out there. CNET had a chance to check out the Clio at CES 2014 and ClearView Audio invited me to a more in-depth demo of the speaker in New York.
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Curved acrylic glass

The "speaker" is actually a thin piece of slightly curved acrylic glass. From the side, it's virtually unnoticeable.
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1 millimeter thick

The acrylic is only 0.04 inches thick, while the base itself runs 3.75 inches deep.
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Stereo sound

Despite looking like a single sheet of glass, ClearView claims the Clio can provide a true stereo image. Don't expect too much, though, as device itself is only a little over a foot long. Because of the way the Clio's speaker works, it also produces nearly as much sound from behind as it does from the front.
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Aux input

Aside from Bluetooth compatiblity, there's not much more to the Clio. On the back, there's a minijack input for connecting a non-Bluetooth device.
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Power port

The only other port on the back is for power.
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AC adapter

While the speaker itself is undeniably sleek, it does require a separate AC adapter, which spoils a bit of the Clio's "invisible" design.
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Controls

There are just a few controls on the side, including volume up/down, mute, and a Bluetooth pairing button.
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Woofer on the bottom

The acrylic driver doesn't do all the work. There's also a 2-inch woofer in the bottom that handles the low-end. (The stickers on the bottom are only there because this isn't a final sample; they won't be on shipping units.)
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Sound quality

I had a chance to listen to the Clio for a few minutes during my briefing. I came in with low expectations based on the design, but the Clio certainly sounded better than I thought it would. On the other hand, it's tough to say more than that, since it was a controlled demo without any comparisons.
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Three finish options

The Clio will be available in three finish options: silver, dark bronze, and charcoal. Dark bronze was my personal favorite, but according to ClearView Audio, silver is the most popular preorder.
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Coming in April, $349

ClearView Audio is currently accepting preorders for the Clio and expects to start shipping units at the end of April. The big sticking point for many may be the price, at $349. That makes the Clio even more expensive than other excellent premium Bluetooth speakers, like the Sony SRS-BTX500 and Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker III.

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