Review: Wireless speakers great fit for phone use

Jun 28, 2012
This Wednesday, June 13, 2012 photo, shows The Beacon Audio Phoenix, a wireless speaker that connects to smartphones via Bluetooth, in Decatur, Ga. Diminutive wireless speakers are increasingly filling the shelves at electronics retailers as they quickly prove to be the perfect accessory for people who listen to the bulk of their music on mobile phones. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

(AP) -- Diminutive wireless speakers are filling the shelves at electronics stores. They're proving to be the ideal accessory for people who listen to the bulk of their music on mobile phones.

Because the smartphone is now such a ubiquitous entertainment device, there's no reason it can't also be a solid stereo around the house and on the road when paired with the right speakers.

All of the speakers I tested connect to your device wirelessly through Bluetooth. They also have a traditional stereo input jack, so you can plug in iPods and other music players without Bluetooth capability.

I looked at some of the latest wireless offerings that provide the most boom for your buck. I used a Motorola Droid X2, running Google's . These options work with Apple's and iPad, too.

---

- Mini Boombox, by Logitech ($99.99)

This speaker isn't much bigger than a balled-up fist, but it packs a similar punch when you press play. It holds a that I couldn't kill, even with a full day of house cleaning.

For such a small unit, the Mini Boombox delivered a full range of fidelity across various music genres, from the crunch heavy metal to the thumping beat of electronica.

The Mini Boombox was easy to set up once my phone scanned for available . The speaker kept the connection nicely throughout the first floor of a two-story house.

It also sports backlit, touch-sensitive controls on top of the unit, allowing me to easily toggle back and forth through my and adjust the volume. Of course, everything can be controlled from the phone as well.

Pound for pound, the Mini Boombox is a serious performer and my favorite of the bunch. It has the best balance of sound quality, touch-sensitive controls and a price point that won't gouge the wallet too deeply.

---

- Braven 650, by Braven ($189.99)

The Braven 650 has a streamlined, utilitarian design. Underneath the silver shell are stereo subwoofers pumping out a decent six watts of sound, similar to the output of the Mini Boombox. It can easily fill a large room with tunes, though it sounded thin when placed too far out in the open. I liked the resonance better when the Braven was about a foot in front of a wall.

Like the other units, the range for the Bluetooth connection remains steady at about 30 to 35 feet. One bonus: It sports a USB port, so I can charge my phone while continuing to play music through it via Bluetooth.

The Braven's built-in rechargeable battery claims a playback time of 20 hours, double the battery time boasted by the Mini Boombox. I don't have enough good music to put that to the test, but it never went dead on me after days of intermittent (and loud) use.

---

Big Jambox, by Jawbone ($299.99)

You'll have to pay more for this speaker, but you'll get monstrously huge sound. This is the only unit that will blow you out of one room and into another. The Big Jambox sounds like a stereo speaker four times its size.

The fidelity here is impeccable, the setup easy and the physical controls on the top surface are nicely rubberized, which gives them a good feel and makes them fingerprint-proof. An oversized "minus" sign takes the volume down while a "plus" sign cranks it up.

The unit is sturdy, with a strong metal mesh for its external skin. You'll want to be careful not to snag it on soft cotton fibers, lest they get stuck in the futuristic-styled housing.

The Big Jambox goes one step beyond the others reviewed by allowing you to sync it to exclusive content and apps through its "MyTalk" interface online. That requires a wired USB connection, which takes away from the goal of a wireless experience.

Moreover, the Pandora, SHOUTcast and other music feeds that this wired connection enables work fine wirelessly through a smartphone without needing MyTalk. This feature comes across as redundant.

---

Phoenix, by Beacon Audio ($99)

The Phoenix is small, light and well designed, but at the low-end of the sound spectrum, the bass isn't as bass-y as I'd like. Still, it delivers decent volume for its weight and size.

Of the four tested, the Phoenix is the only one to lack a built-in speakerphone, so you can't pause your music and answer phone calls wirelessly. Instead, you must answer the calls on the phone itself.

The Phoenix is the most portable of the bunch. The small cube comes in three colors, plus a nice case to tote it around in. If you're looking for something to lug into a small office every day without weighing yourself down, the Phoenix is a decent choice.

Explore further: New iPad impresses, but not enough to reverse negative tablet sales trend

3.7 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Jambox a boombox for the smart gadget era

Nov 04, 2010

Jawbone has packed the monster sound of a boombox in a pocket-sized "Jambox" that wirelessly adds home-theater sound to mobile gadgets from smartphones to tablet computers.

Philips announces new Bluetooth audio and voice solution

May 24, 2005

Royal Philips Electronics makes the world of the Connected Consumer even more enjoyable with the introduction of a new, simple to use Bluetooth 1.2 Stereo headset reference design. This Bluetooth stereo solution provides ...

Music and Phone Calls via Bluetooth at Home

Mar 15, 2007

Siemens has developed a small Bluetooth-enabled device that allows to make cordless phone calls and listen to music simultaneously. The Gigaset ZX1 consists of a communicator with a button for accepting incoming ...

Gadgets: Pioneer speaker system rocks out

Sep 10, 2010

To sum it up if you want to read no further: The Pioneer XW-NAS3 speaker system for iPods and iPhones rocks the house even at the highest volume levels.

Gadgets: Good earphones, good price

Aug 27, 2009

Ultrasone announced a new set of headphones called the Zino. Just like anyone else, I plugged them into my iPod and hit play before I knew any specifics on them. From then on, I didn't want to take them off.

Recommended for you

Drivebot aims to touch driver bases for safety, savings

55 minutes ago

Five Thailand-based engineers have developed a dongle device that serves as a fitness tracker for cars and have turned to Indiegogo to raise funds for bringing it forward. The attraction is that it is a simple ...

HP announces Sprout—a truly innovative workstation

3 hours ago

Hewlett-Packard Co has announced the development of a new kind of computer workstation—one that combines the power of a desktop computer with 3D scanning and projection—and adds a second display surface ...

Microsoft unveils fitness gadget, health tracking

Oct 30, 2014

Microsoft is releasing a $199 fitness band that also checks your email and even pay for coffee as the software company seeks to challenge Apple and others in the still-infant market for wearable devices.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.