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This Slick Speaker Looks Like It's Floating in Air

If Meizu is looking to make a splash with its first product to reach the U.S., the Chinese electronics company certainly picked an eye-catching candidate with its Gravity speaker. Using a cantilevered design with a clear base and a prism, this $199 speaker looks at first glance like it's suspended in air.

Meizu launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Gravity today (May 16) at Indiegogo. You can order the speaker for $169 while supplies last, with Meizu estimating that the Gravity will be ready to ship by December 2016.

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If nothing else, the Gravity scores points for an unusual design. The 10.3 x 2.3 x 1.85-inch black speaker rests on an acrylic stand that pokes through the Gravity's left side, leaving most of the speaker to dangle outward. On top of the speaker, you'll find a prism display that uses optical reflection to make it appear as if the track information on the display is floating above the Gravity.

At least, that's how it works in theory. I saw a prototype of the Gravity last week, which gave me a chance to at least take in the speaker's striking look conceived by Hironao Tsuboi, even if I couldn't see the display in action. I was impressed by how balanced the Gravity actually is: I thought it might tip over at the slightest knock, but it took me pushing the speaker over to make it tip. I'd like to see how readable that display is in a real-world setting, but I like that it looks clear when not in use, adding to the Gravity's floating feel.

Of course, speakers ultimately are judged on the quality of their sound, and that's something I can't do at this point since I didn't get a chance to hear the Gravity in action. Meizu says it's working with audio technology company Dirac to create customized speakers featuring a dual passive resonance membrane. That will mean better low-frequency sound, Meizu says in the promotional materials for the Gravity, but we'll get a better idea of whether that's so once the speaker's ready for prime time.

Meizu is using a crowdfunding campaign as a way to introduce itself to U.S. consumers. The company's well-known in China, where it's been making smartphones since 2009. Prior to that, Meizu specialized in MP3 players — it was the top MP3 maker in China, a company senior manager told me — so the Gravity marks something of a return to Meizu's roots, even as it tries to make a name for itself in a new country.