This past holiday season I noticed something in a lot of shopping carts and sitting under the tree: Mobile Bluetooth Speakers. Their growing popularity is related to their ease of use, portability, and the fact your phone/ipod never has to leave your side for those with smart phone separation anxiety (kidding, but not kidding). So here’s a run down of some of the better ones available.
Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II
While Bose may no longer be in a class of their own, they’re still at the top of it with this revamped model of their previous mobile speakers. The Soundlink still offers that incredible sound you’ve come to love, performing well at low levels and without any distortion at higher volumes. Considering the small size of this all-in-one speaker, there’s still quite a bit of bass, but not so much that you’ll drive your neighbors crazy. Also, a recent update made mobile control a lot easier.
Cons: While this Bose unit is exceptional in sound, it is lacking in features that many of its competitors are offering, has a short battery life, plus there is the hefty price tag of about $300.
Jawbone Big Jambox
Leaders in the bluetooth market, Jawbone have super-sized their smaller Jambox with the Big Jambox and it’s a good one. With a unique rugged design, its features are a major selling point for this unit. Great sound, solid battery life, handles higher volumes decently, has an auxiliary port, but best of all the business grade speaker function. I personally put the speaker through the ringer to see if it would become a liability for conference calls, but it outperformed my expectations.
Cons: This carries the upper-echelon price, but doesn’t quite deliver the upper-echelon sound quality, but that’s justa bout all there is not to like about this speaker.
Sonos Play:5 All in One Wireless Music Speaker
Deep, richly textured audio that picks up the faintest of details in any piece of music. The Sonos is the Joe Frazier to Bose’ Ali, and it comes out swinging. With a mobile app and amazon cloud storage, the Sonos makes playing music easy. It’s relatively easy to set up, but comes with a caveat, although it’s a good one. Sonos didn’t design this speaker to just be placed in a room and carried around the house, although that’s perfectly fine if that’s what you’re looking for. Preferably, you start with one speaker, and then expand by adding more units around the house and connecting them with a bridge to create a whole-house music experience. One certainly gets the job done, but with three or four throughout a home it really starts to live up to that hefty $400 price tag with impressive knock.
Cons: Price tag, it’s one of the biggest mobile bluetooth speakers.
I’m reviewing this product in hopes of informing the masses: GO FOR SOUND, NOT NAME BRAND. To call me a “Beats Hater” would be inaccurate, I often appreciate some of their unique designs, much like the Pill, but where I detract is in their price point. For comparative sound quality, most beats products are double the price they should be, all for the Dre moniker, but people still eat them up. Fine. The Pill is no exception at $200. While it does sound pretty good, once you go to the higher volumes it starts to get a tin texture to it. However, perhaps the most ironic aspect of the Pill is that its bass is rather meager. Were this speaker priced at $100 or $150 I’d review this unit more favorably, but it’s not.
Cons: Pricey, poor bass, doesn’t handle high volumes well.
If you find yourself not wanting to shell out major cash for one of these bluetooth speakers, there are some good alternatives that won’t deliver the big sound, but still come with nice features.
Jawbone Jambox: The “little brother” to the Big Jambox, this little guy gets it done. Highly mobile (you can carry it in your briefcase without any problems), the speaker function is still great and it does sound very crisp.
Logitech Mobile Boom Box: Small, ovular design that performs well in most categories, but doesn’t master any of them. You can find it for the right price at around $80-$100, so if you need one for a home office this is a great choice.