Seems like every time I check my inbox lately there’s a press release for a new wireless speaker. I use them all the time: at campfire parties, on road trips, in the backyard, on the boat, at the beach, and when I visit my parents (think: circa 1980 10-disc CD changer stocked with Air Supply and Dionne Warwick).
So…I ordered them all up and have been rocking for the past several weeks, everywhere I go. They’re all pretty rugged, with some manner of rubberized edges, smoothed out corners, silicone sleeves and tough plastic casings. Sound quality seems to increase pretty much across the board in direct proportion to the size and price of the unit. (No surprise, since my husband has been telling me for years that his refrigerator-size Klipsh speakers from college are unsurpassable.)
I evaluated these speakers on several key features: size, weight and sound quality. I’m partial to models with a built-in microphone that can be used as a speaker-phone (great for the office).
[cheap tunes] Dvoom Bluetune-Bean
About the size of dinner roll, this is ideal if weight, portability and budget are your main concerns. It’s covered in a silicone sleeve to dampen hard knocks, and a carabiner clips it to your backpack for convenient access. The price is right: I bought these for my nieces and nephews for Christmas.
[cyclist pick] Outdoor Tech Buckshot
The mere size of a salt shaker, the Buckshot is a step up in sound quality from its next tiniest competitor (the Bean). The little cylinder is well fortified with a hard rubber casing, and it comes with a neat handlebar mount so you can crank tunes on your commute to work. But I found the tiny buttons a big pain to operate: I bent a few fingernails during my testing.
[good-looking] Bem Wireless Mobile Speaker
The clean, sexy cube silhouette looks great on a desktop or coffee table and the sound is pretty good and nuanced, making this a good pick in the middle price range. Only caveat: The range on this one is pretty weak. Walk into the next room with your phone in your pocket and the sound starts to break up.