We're testing a wide range of Bluetooth-capable speakers, priced between $50 and $250, to gauge how well these wireless audio devices fare. Believe it or not, there's a ton of differentiation, and a number of systems clearly rise to the top of our list.
The wireless Bluetooth-based speaker market really took off over the last two years. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised. It was bound to follow the evolution of smartphones and tablets taking the place of dedicated MP3 players. With access to music services like Spotify and Pandora, you no longer need to carry your library with you. Then again, if you're at home, tapping into a well-stocked repository of tunes is super-easy with those devices, too. With more music all around us, there are more situations where we'd like to share with friends instead of hiding it between a set of headphones.
With all of the speaker systems we were introduced to in 2013, it's a good time to take a closer look at what's available. After all, a lot of these would make great little stocking stuffers.
After a fair bit of research, I was surprised by the specifications that were consistent and those that varied wildly between devices. In today's story, all of the sub-$100 options are what I'd consider ultra-portable. They're small enough to tote around in a purse and equipped with mics to double as speakerphones. From $100 to $200 there are the slightly larger models with bigger drivers and better sound, but none of that speakerphone business. Call those products portable. Finally, above $200, there are the more powerful options, which are modern versions of the boombox that was popular back when we were kids.
|Power (RMS)||2 x 3 W||2 x 2.5 W||2 x 2 W||unlisted||2 x 16 W||22 W||10 W|
|2 x 553 g|
(2 x 0.9 lbs)
|$50 to $70||$82||$83 to $100||$149||$160 to $170||$199||$238 to $250|
We're reviewing each speaker in order of price, from the lowest to the highest, starting with Arctic's S113BT.