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Seven Portable Bluetooth Speaker Systems, Tested And Reviewed

Four Bluetooth Speakers Receive Recognition

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.

Luxa2 Groovy

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. 

  • vmem
    whatever happened to really popular products like jambox and solemate? they're well within your price range
    Reply
  • DarkSable
    I run a firespinning troupe. When you're practicing routines, you HAVE to have loud, clear music, because the fire tools are spinning quickly, causing a massive amount of air turbulence with the flames, creating a very, very loud roar.

    In order to practice a routine with perhaps five other people on stage, you have to be able to hear the music to know where you are in the routine - otherwise someone might move too early or not move, and, well... bad things would happen.

    When I founded the club, I was looking at all sorts of options; what I really wanted was a shop boombox, but they were expensive and didn't have the battery life I needed for practice... and couldn't be plugged in because you practice outside.

    After reading a lot of reviews, I got the UE boombox. It has several features that were incredibly useful to me - most notable the fact that it could store three bluetooth profiles AND connect through a normal 3.5mm jack - that way we didn't have to just use my music collection, but could use other members' as well without them having to mail me the files.

    Solutions we tried to use before was an iHome system, which didn't come close to having enough volume, and an old CD boombox... which worked fine, except the CDs got worn out pretty quickly as they were outdoors, and it was limiting on what music we could use - we had to have it beforehand.

    So I got this UE boombox, and it was perfect. It doesn't have THE sharpest sound in the world, but it doesn't have distortion with everything turned to max volume, and it has solid base (so you can hear the beat clearly) and good battery life.

    For anything requiring outdoor music that has to carry well or be particularly well, I highly, highly recommend the UE Boombox. (It would work perfectly for, say, a beach party, or something like that.)
    Reply
  • lp231
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm
    Reply
  • thesuperguy
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.
    Reply
  • cleeve
    12155233 said:
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.

    That's not true, sound quality is foremost when it comes to factors that contribute to our final recommendations.

    Both subjective and objective measures of sound quality were taken into account.
    We can't chart subjective sound quality but that doesn't mean you should assume it's unimportant. It's a huge part of the analysis.

    Reply
  • cleeve
    12154939 said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm

    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.
    Reply
  • boogalooelectric
    I just bought one of these for $20 from Monoprice

    http://www.monoprice.com/Product?ab3=b&utm_expid=58369800-11.KFcpHWqASSutMqNPOqaJVg.1&c_id=108&cp_id=10827&cs_id=1082704&p_id=7364&seq=1&format=2&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.monoprice.com%2FCategory%3Fc_id%3D120%26cp_id%3D10827

    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers.

    Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.

    Also where is the JBL3
    Reply
  • lp231
    12155607 said:
    12154939 said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm

    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.

    I went to this shopping center one time and one of electronic stores has it on demo. It doesn't sound too bad, quite good actually, was about to get it, but its price was a bit steep during that time.
    Reply
  • DarkSable
    12156054 said:
    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers.

    Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.

    I've got an NFC/bluetooth receiver for my stereo system as well. The trouble with that is that it requires two wall outlets to run - the idea behind these is you can take and use them anywhere. (I would consider them bluetooth boomboxes, rather than speaker systems.)

    Reply
  • TunaSoda
    My Bose Soundlink Mini blows all of those away for sound quality
    Reply