Logitech Mini Boombox
Logitech knows a thing or two about making top-notch portable speakers, and scaling down the size hasn’t diminished its skills. The 11.6cm-wide Boombox is a truly palm-sized speaker. Its nifty backlit touch control panel looks the part, but it can be a bit awkward in use, and it makes the Mini look like a ‘90s clock radio.
Its hands-free phone function, is fiendishly simple, though, and depending on how loud you like your music, it claims an impressive 10 hours of tunage
at a 10-metre range. This cranks out a loud and clear sound, handling bass so well that we were left wondering where it all comes from. If you’re on a budget, this is the sonic champion by a mile. The Mini offers physics-defying ability at an amazingly low price.
Geneva Sound System Model XS
If Gaudí, the father of modernist art, had a range of brainy Bluetooth groove tools to show off, they’d resemble this 15cm slab of sound. With Jawbone claiming a range of 10 metres and a hefty 85dB output, this 4W box is capable of a big noise, and for up to 10 hours. Despite being no bigger than a pack of custard creams, the Jambox is a potent portable: it roars out sound like nobody’s business. It’s not the subtlest delivery, but there’s ample treble clarity and bass heft. Plus the wireless voice calling is handy. Great for that modernist-themed bash, but there’s better at the price.
No hands-free call function or apps here; this Geneva swaps it all for hi-fi pedigree. Looking like a 21st-century travel radio, the Model XS packs a 2.1-speaker set-up and a 12W amp into its solid snapcase. Its five-hour battery life is nothing special, but the red touch controls, allowing you to switch between Bluetooth, FM radio and the 3.5mm input, are dashing and very responsive.
Wireless music sounds remarkably clear, detailed and weighty for a device so small. The FM radio locks on to stations and sounds great once the aerial’s extended. Overall, the XS is a class apart – and while you pay extra for that, what you get is worth every penny. Under that travel radio exterior is a brilliant Bluetooth speaker.
Bose tends to have its eyes on the high-end pocket, and the SoundLink looks designed to appeal to the traveller who considers business class a god-given right. The 24cm-long slab’s (optional) smooth leather cover folds back to form the stand, and the chunky buttons up top are satisfyingly positive compared to namby-pamby touch-sensitive efforts. Inside is a weighty battery that’ll keep it juiced for eight hours. It sounds much bigger, heavier and more expansive than the others. It will fill a room – or a decent garden – and deliver meaty bass that underpins great detail and clarity. Not for the SoundLink the frivolity of taking hands-free calls: this one’s all about the music. So no feature frills, heavy and costly – but the sound is astonishing.
At just £30, the SW50 seems to be a bit of a steal. This 7cm-wide speaker – small enough to slip into Darth Vader’s clutch bag – pairs with any Bluetooth A2DP device and deals with hands-free calls too. Battery life is a rather lacklustre three hours for music and four for calls, after whichyou’ll need to charge it via micro USB.
It’s small. And it sounds small. It does manage to avoid the ‘drunken wasp in a can’ noise beloved of smartphones, but don’t expect to turn your park social into a P-Diddy bump and grind-a-thon, as bass is nigh-on absent. Still, it’s a doddle to use and at least voices come through clearly. It's got price, style and features down, but the SW50’s sound quality falls short.
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