Device Reviewed With: iPhone 5, iPad mini
Hardware Design Rating:
Sound Quality Rating:
+ Innovative design
+ Louder than similar speakers
+ Charges Devices via USB
- Sounds a bit tinny
- Too easy to drain the battery
The RockSteady XS is a portable, micro Bluetooth speaker designed for use with any audio source that supports the Bluetooth 3.0 protocol, including iPads, iPhones, and other mobile or computing devices. It also includes a audio port for a line in, and a full-sized USB port for audio in and device charging, as well. There are a host of buttons on the front of the unit, which can be used to play, pause, forward, or reverse playback with many audio apps, like Pandora, Music, or Rdio.
The design of this mini speaker is interesting, in that the main speakers face out the two sides of the unit, one on each end of the rectangular casing. There are also holes in the top of the speaker, as well. Overall, this gives the RockSteady XS a distinct advantage over other speakers I've tried, with a 100db loudness that belies the diminutive size of the device. There's a good deal of volume that can be applied before things get distorted, as well. The sound itself is fairly well-balanced, with a tendency for a brittle, tinny sound without some EQ from the sound source, especially at higher volumes.
The speaker itself is made of aluminum, making it both tough and light. There's a removable battery on the bottom, and you can purchase more from Killer Concepts, making this a great option for someone who needs longer than one battery's worth of life. In my use of the RockSteady XS, I found the battery life to be similar to that of the other devices I've used with an afternoon's worth of listening at loud volume, on average.
My one big issue with the RockSteady XS is the battery on/off toggle. When I forgot to turn the unit off, which happened more than I'd like to admit, the battery continued to drain while the speaker sat on my desk, or in my bag. There really ought to be an auto-off feature to prevent typical user error like this, though it is nice to be able to definitively know if you've turned the speaker off, as well.
Bottom line, the RockSteady XS is a loud micro Bluetooth speaker with an innovative, rugged design that should meet the needs of many a listening environment, from outdoor picnics to dorm parties or hotel rooms. The great utility of the device is a bit offset by the sometimes tinny sound quality and the easily-forgotten toggle switch, but is still a great value considering the removable battery, the 100db sound volume, and the ability to charge a device from the back of the unit.