Here at Gadget Review we are constantly getting in portable speakers to review – some of them really great, and some of them…. well let’s just say that some might not be worth writing about. For the most part though, they fall somewhere in the “not too bad, but not too good” range with uninspired designs and middling sound. It is for that reason that I always have to approach these things with a bit of skepticism – I’ve learned a long time ago that PR speak on portable speakers might just be that – PR speak. Now I had reviewed a Tego speaker before, and while it wasn’t perfect, it was pleasing to use (my one daughter still uses it to this day), so when they approached me to review their new model, well I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
If you remember correctly, the Tego Nova speaker had a very odd shape, with four “legs” and a baffle you could extend for richer bass. This time, Tego has gone with a much simpler – albeit larger – shape. The Cera looks like someone took an over sized 8 Ball (the one they sent me was black) and sliced off an equal section on the top and the bottom. The design is much more pleasing to the eyes than a lot of the other speakers that come through my door – not blocky and angular, but rounded and attention grabbing. On the bottom of the Cera is a rubber foot, so that you can sit it places without any worries of it slipping and sliding. On the top face, you can see the buttons to turn the volume up and down, and to fast forward or rewind what is playing (next track or previous track on the iPhone). Around the bottom of the outside shell is an audio jack and the USB port for charging. All fairly standard, right?
Not so fast there buck-o. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention any way to actually turn the Cera on or off – that’s because it doesn’t have a traditional on / off button, but rather you depress the entire top surface to make the magic happen. Once you push the top down, it springs back up and then some. The entire top rises up to reveal a mesh “sound tube”, complete with three bright blue LEDs to illuminate everything. When you look in through the mesh, you can see an upside down cone attached to the roof to help the sound that it puts out disperse evenly. I’m not really sure how much it actually does – but it can’t hurt anything. Since the speaker is directly below that conical shape, the sound immediately hits it and is sent out in all directions.
The pairing is incredibly easy with any iPhone and Android device (heck, I even paired my laptop with it to see how well it would work) – it does make an incredibly annoying little tone every time you turn it on and every time you pair it, and I would really love it if you could turn it down (or off), but you learn to live with it. I also have to say that the range of the Bluetooth on the Cera was quite impressive as well, not losing any sound quality until after about twenty eight feet – I have much higher end speakers that drop off sooner than that. The battery life was about six hours, and took about two and a half hours to charge fully up through my computer’s USB port – more than enough battery life for most times when I would want to use it.
The sound quality was also better than I had expected, with nice and crisp highs, clear mids, and decent lows. Unfortunately the bass wasn’t what I was hoping for, but after looking at the actual speaker on it I have to say that they’re pushing it for all it is worth here. Not only was the sound quality better than expected, but the sound volume was much more than I had hoped for. I was able to put this little thing on my deck outside and still hear it in the house about forty feet away. With the aforementioned conical diffuser, I was also able to hear it from pretty much anywhere in my yard, which was nice because it brought sound to my pool. It really made me wish that someone would make a waterproof one of these tiny portable speakers, because I would line the supports on my pool with them – but I digress.
Bottom Line: If you are in the market for a nice and small portable speaker with good sound responsiveness and dynamic range, you could do a lot worse than the Cera by Tego Audio.
- Small enough to fit in a purse or backpack (but maybe a bit too big for a pocket)
- A very nice range on the Bluetooth means you can pair it with your phone and walk around without losing sound quality
- Better than average sound from an eye catching design
- The sound that the Cera makes whenever it is turned on is incredibly annoying (and incredibly loud)
- The bass is the only part of the sound that is really not that great here
- While the design looks great, the plastic doesn’t have a smooth seam where the two halves meet – it was actually quite rough
You can grab a Tego Audio Cera of your very own from the Tego Audio website for $89.99 for one, or $199.99 for a three pack.