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.
Curved acrylic glass
The "speaker" is actually a thin piece of slightly curved acrylic glass. From the side, it's virtually unnoticeable.
1 millimeter thick
The acrylic is only 0.04 inches thick, while the base itself runs 3.75 inches deep.
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.
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.
The only other port on the back is for power.
While the speaker itself is undeniably sleek, it does require a separate AC adapter, which spoils a bit of the Clio's "invisible" design.
There are just a few controls on the side, including volume up/down, mute, and a Bluetooth pairing button.
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.)
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.
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.
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.