"Call me skeptical, but I'm having some difficulty likening the Speakerhat to future technologies from the year 2049, or even 2019 for that matter." These were the words I wrote when I first covered Atari's Speakerhat back in July of this year. I even dared the company to send me a Speakerhat just to try it out for myself. And Atari did.
So after weeks with Atari's Speakerhat I can finally give my impression of this futurist hat, and confidently say that this hat definitely isn't a piece of tech I would associate with the Blade Runner future of 2049. But I still love it.
The Speakerhat is part of a new wave of Atari hardware coming out of the famed video game company. Powered by Audioware, the Speakerhat is a well-constructed baseball hat with two circular speakers attached to the bottom of the cap's bill. While the speakers aren't flush with the bill, they're innocuous enough that you might not even notice them, even if you were looking at the hat head-on.
It has a little switch in the back that pairs the bluetooth speakers in the hat with your phone so you can blast your music through the two speakers. The audio is surprisingly crisp, though not very heavy on the bass. The audio is also only really great for the wearer since the speakers face downwards. You can tip the hat at an angle so the speakers face a bit outwards, but I don't think you'll really replace a standalone bluetooth speaker at your next house party.
The speakers on the hat are also not incredibly loud, but not quiet either. Basically it's loud enough to be obnoxious on a public commute, but not loud enough to fill a whole room. I feel like wearing the hat with music on in public would be like listening to audio on your phone's speaker while on the subway, just with better audio quality.
This was kind of confusing to me since I figured this hat would be the perfect accessory for a house party. Instead it's just sort of meant to draw attention to yourself as a kind of gimmick. A press release for the hat said that they should be considered premium audio tech rather than hats. But while the speaker quality is actually better than I originally imagined, I don't really find myself blasting music through it all that often.
So why do I love the Atari Speakerhat? Well, because counter to hat PR it's really just a better hat than speaker.
There are a couple different designs for the Speakerhats, but the one I was sent was meant to tie-in with Blade Runner 2049. As such, it features a slightly different design. While other hats in the line have a design with a big "ATARI" on the front of the cap, spelled out in big bold letter across the front, the 2049 hat is a bit more understated. It features an Atari logo with the company name underneath, spelled in Japanese Kanji.
The whole design is also stitched in a nice, electric blue color that looks really sharp and understated at the same time. The color really contrasts well with the black fabric of the rest of the hat to make for one surprisingly stylish package.
I'm less impressed with the back of the hat which has a similar electric blue stitching, but it's used to showcase a "Blade Runner 2049" logo. I suppose because it's an official tie-in this branding is necessary, though I would have preferred if it was without it.
This is a well-built this hat. For $139.99 (for the Blade Runner edition), I would hope that no expenses were spared in the hat's construction. Luckily that doesn't appear to be the case.
The materials are of good quality, and the speakers are hardly noticable which I suppose is the real technological marvel of the hat. The fact that a above-average speaker fits into the bill of this hat deserves mention I suppose. All-in-all though I just really see myself wearing this whenver I need a hat. Though I'll probably still use my bluetooth speaker for my audio needs.
"For the sake of futurist journalism, I invite Atari to make me into a believer."
Does the hat scream 2049? No. Not really. It's a hat with two speakers of fairly good quality attached to the bottom of the bill. It's not quite a Google Glass or smartwatch, but it's neat and I like playing music through it to surprise my friends and family.
While Atari would like to position the hat as a premium bit of audio hardware, the joy I get out of the hat (and the reason I wear it out of the house) is because it really is a stylish cap. It's comfortable, the logo is actually rather classy, and while I don't usually wear baseball caps, this is a hat I don't mind wearing as an adult. Is that worth close to $140? No. But I ended up with a new favorite hat that has a parlor trick. And the memories I'll have with this hat will hopefully last well beyond the year 2049.
You can find the Atari Speakerhat at atarilife.com