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Crazy iPhone charging case combines Mophie and Jambox into one (hands-on)

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If you've ever regretted leaving your portable Bluetooth speaker at home before venturing forth from your front door, iPhone case startup Peri answers your audio woes.

What's different about this iPhone protector is immediately clear. The Peri Duo slaps two large speaker grilles on the back of a thick charging case, giving you instant ability to amplify the phone's sound, or start a movie screening or a not-so-silent dance party.

An app controls the 3- and 4-watt speakers, which absolutely blasted through the din of the crowded CNET break room. Physical controls on the case also move the volume up and down.

You're probably wondering how the addition of speakers bulks up the case, and you should. Let me tell you that the working prototype I saw is heavy and thick. The finished product will measure 5.5 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.83 inch thick to be exact, or 40mm by 62mm by 21mm.

Carrying it on your person would be like trying to shove a salami in your pocket. Yet as Peri's team points out, their case, which is a little deeper than some of front-runner Mophie's products, is also a heck of a lot easier to transport than bringing an extra portable Bluetooth (4.0) speaker.

The audio quality, they argue, is a whole lot better too. You'll hear lossless quality with the phone plugged into the case through the built-in Lightning prong. It's what happens when you separate the case from the phone and start using the Duo as a standalone speaker that the accessory is after. Using Wi-Fi Direct instead of Bluetooth to pair the devices improves the audio resolution beyond the usual Bluetooth pairing, the company says.

Peri's Duo case can yield volume up to 20 decibels higher than the iPhone 5 on maximum volume, the company claims, pointing out that they don't have testing numbers pinned down yet on a final product, just on the working model. Those more detailed measurements will come closer to the case's April 2015 launch.

Conference calls are another common use case that makers of the Indiegogo project see for the Peri Duo (the Duo design stipulates an onboard mic).

In addition to playing sound, a networking feature detects any other nearby Duo cases and links them for an ad-hoc surround sound setup that you can also control entirely from your device.

As for the battery, the 2,500mAh juice pack that packs a 130 percent charge for an iPhone 6 and a 160 percent charge for the iPhone 5 and 5S. If you don't charge the phone and play music alone, that capacity should get you between four to eight hours of playback, depending on your volume. The case itself charges through a standard micro-USB processor.

Pricing and availability

A crowd funded Indiegogo project, the Peri Duo case will launch for the iPhone 5 through iPhone 6, as well as the iPod Touch. Peri wants to expand to the iPhone 6 Plus and one day to Android. Early-bird backers can pledge $79 for a case; otherwise, it'll cost supporters $99. That works out to roughly £65 and AU$120. The general public should be able to pick up a case for $139, which directly converts to about £90 and AU$170.

In addition to black with silver accents, the Peri Duo will sell in white with gold accents and red with black and silver trim.

So-crazy-it'll-work, or just crazy?

I won't lie. The Peri Duo looks wacky, even in demo form, and it takes up a lot of space. Charging cases can be really convenient though, and audiophiles who regularly pack a portable speaker with them to events may appreciate the constant presence of built-in speakers.

From the front, the Duo resembles your average, mild-mannered charging case. James Martin/CNET

I'm skeptical about the appeal of the networking/multicasting feature for the average individual. It isn't that I don't think it'll work (the demo proves that it does in a test environment), it's that the likelihood that a bunch of friends will all happen to have the same case is so low.

It may be a different story for companies that purchase the Duo in volume buys, although the chances that they wouldn't already contract for an integrated conference system is slim, too.

What do you think? Would you want to try out a sound-centric case like this?

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Where to Buy

Peri Duo

Part Number: CNETperiDuo

MSRP: $139.00

Visit manufacturer site for details.

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