These price segments yield so much differentiation that we decided to recognize models in each class. Starting from the top, we have $200 to $300.
Eton Rukus XL
If you combine solid sound quality, good aesthetics, and incredible utility, you get Eton's Rukus XL. We love the ability to charge this speaker using its built-in solar panel, along with an attached smartphone through USB. I can't imagine anything I'd rather take on a camping trip. Of course, the Rukus XL is just as comfortable in your backyard, the kitchen, or in a living room.
When it comes to volume, Bluetooth range, and battery life, you get top-tier performance across our testing suite. This product truly deserves a Tom's Hardware Smart Buy award.
Next, $100 to $200.
Cambridge Audio Minx Go
Arguably the most balanced and best-sounding option in our round-up, despite being small enough to tote in a gym bag, Cambridge Audio's Minx Go also boasts the longest battery life in our comparison. The $150 speaker deserves our Smart Buy award based on those traits alone. If it also included a good mic for answering phone calls, controls for skipping and repeating audio tracks, and USB-based charging without the AC adapter, it would have received Elite recognition instead. Hopefully Cambridge Audio considers those capabilities for its next-gen effort.
Lastly, lets look at what you can find under $100.
It's attractive, built using high-quality materials, and it sounds larger and louder than a diminutive stature might suggest. At a relatively low price of $83 on Amazon.com, we have a hard time finding fault with Luxa2's Groovy. We would have liked controls for navigating to the next or previous track on a playlist, but that's a small critique overall. In the end, there's no deterring us from granting a Tom's Hardware Smart Buy award to this value leader.
Edifier Extreme Connect
While the Groovy earns our Smart Buy award, Edifier's Extreme Connect comes close with solid frequency response across the audio spectrum and a host of unique features, such as microSD connectivity and built-in circuitry for using the speaker attached to a PC via USB. With a price just a bit higher than its competition, some folks might find the extra money worth spending for that extra flexibility.