Bluetooth is a fantastic technology. It lets me connect my iPhone or iPad to a ton of different devices, including speakers, keyboards, other computers, headphones, and mice without wires. The latest version, 4.0, draws very little power and features an increased signal range of up to 100 feet.
148Apps received three different portable Bluetooth speakers recently, and we decided to put them all through their paces, to better understand which ones might be better for specific uses. We'll be looking at the Braven 600, the CubeEdge, the Disco 2, and the Logitech Boombox (which we also reviewed here).
This little monster is a powerful portable speaker that retails for $149.99. It comes in two colors, red and gray, and has features like a long battery life, a USB port to charge your iPhone on the go, and a nice little bag to carry it around in so as to avoid scratches on the metal case. Like most small speakers, the bass response is limited, but resonant enough for most uses. The highs are crisp without being brittle, and the mid-tones are warm without muddiness. The volume ceiling is low, as you might expect for a tiny speaker, but can reasonably fill a smaller room at higher volume.
I was able to use the Braven 600 for hours on end without the need for a battery charge; upwards of six hours during one testing session. It comes with a little square wall plug and a micro USB cable to charge it up with. I connected my iPhone to the speaker's USB port when the Braven had a full charge; it brought my iPhone up to about half full. While you won't be able to use the Braven as a full juice box, having that little bit of safety is a good thing. Pairing the device with my iPhone, iPad, and Mac was super simple; a press and hold on the phone icon button sets the Braven 600 to pairing mode and the iPhone or Mac did the rest. The speaker phone functionality is equally as easy to use, and never seemed to need any re-pairing, unlike many other accessories I've tried.
Overall, the Braven 600 is a great mini portable speaker with all the trimmings, and is well worth the asking price.
Here's a speaker that's much larger and more powerful than the other two in this roundup, delivering 28 watts of power and a bass boost feature that will please fans of the boom. With a larger profile than the Braven or the CubeEdge, the Supertooth Disco can reach much higher volumes, and boasts a spectacular stereo separation when doing so. The design of the unit makes it stand out on any shelf, with a large, offset analog knob for volume, and audio option and media control buttons around the knob in a circle.
The battery life topped out at about three hours of continuous use at a medium to low volume setting, which isn't horrible, but does limit where you could take the speaker. It comes with a neoprene case that has cutouts in it to allow you to use the speaker inside, making it just a bit more spray and sand resistant, perhaps. The plug is a standard wall-wart affair with a round, non-usb charging plug. Pairing the Supertooth Disco is a breeze, though having to turn it off and then on again to pair with a second device feels kludgy.
At $99.00, the Supertooth Disco is a fantastic small speaker in the same class as the Logitech Boom Box we reviewed a while back. It's non an ultra portable like the other two here, but it does have great stereo sound and the ability to pump up the volume for larger spaces.
This is the ultra portable speaker with the least amount of features, and that's by design. The $149.99 speaker features three buttons along the top for up and down volume and pairing, plus an on/off toggle on the back. That's it. It's charged by a wall plug and micro USB cable, comes in a cute little carrying bag, and has a cool looking design with the upper right front corner looking like it's been sliced off. This corner lights up blue while in operation, and red when pairing or charging. The sound profile is a bit light, though it's hard to tell much of a difference between this and the Braven; they're both similar size and quality.
I had trouble keeping the Edge.Sound charged between uses, though that could purely be user error. Pairing is super simple, but it did require a couple of re-pairings between testing sessions. It's super light and rugged; it feels like it could take a little bit of abuse without any problem at all. The casing is textured rubberized plastic around all sides but the front, which has a silvery metal mesh grid for the sound to come out of. The speaker phone function works as advertised, with callers saying I sounded just fine when using it.
So, in the final call, I'm happy to recommend all three of these small and ultra mini portable bluetooth speakers. When comparing the Edge.Sound to the Braven 600, the difference in sound is negligible; the rugged design of the Edge.Sound is as valid a reason to pick it up as is the extra charging port on the Braven 600. WHich you prefer will be a matter of taste and choice. If I had to choose, I'd go with the Braven 600.
The Supertooth Disco, on the other hand, is my new favorite mid-sized portable bluetooth speaker, with amazing stereo sound, high volume capability, and a variety of attractively placed on-device buttons to let you run your music without having to pull out your iPhone or iPad.
Whichever speaker you choose, however, you won't be disappointed. These types of speakers are popular for a reason, as they allow you to have better sound out in the wild than your portable devices can produce on their own for a fairly attractive price.