Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Portable Bluetooth Speakers (list)
Rewind the clock 3-4 years and there were only a select number of portable Bluetooth speakers available for your holiday traveling needs. Nowadays you can spit and hit a portable Bluetooth speaker. So the question is, and now more than ever, which one should you buy? Or in this case, which one should you gift assuring that you meet the sonic demands of the receiver. There are a variety of brands to choose from, and with that comes some variation in price, quality, and ultimately value.
Logitech UE Boombox
Thanks to the Logitech UE Boombox‘s built-in handle, carrying this speaker from place to place couldn’t be easier. The battery is good for about 6-hours of playback, at least based on our experience. The volume and clarity is pretty unprecedented for a portable speaker, though it is far larger than the Jambox, Shoqbox, or UE Mobile Boom Box, though that is somewhat expected. Nevertheless, the UE Boombox can work as both a portable and at home speaker system for those seeking a simplified setup, and an AUX input means you don’t have to go wireless if you don’t want to. Amazon has it for $250.
The Jawbone Jambox is the Bluetooth speaker that set the benchmark for portable Bluetooth speaker over 2-years ago. To this day it continues to be one of the smallest and best sounding of its type. The rubber top and bottom help it stay secure on surfaces, while the 10-hour battery life means you’ll be able to party until the sun comes up. Just keep in mind that it’s not the loudest, but its small size makes up for that. You can grab it in a variety of colors from Amazon for $130 ($70 off its original list price) – more colors available at the Jambox website.
Big Jawbone Jambox
If the Jawbone Jambox is too small, then you might want to turn to the unusually large Big Jawbone Jambox (we called it a Jambox on ‘roids when it first released). The Big Jambox is about 3 times the size of the original, and provides 15-hours of playback on a single charge. Audio quality based on our experience is vastly improved, but with that comes the caveat of portability, or lack there of, since it’s almost three times the weight of its smaller brother. All together we prefer the UE Boombox, but there is no disputing that this speaker is more bag friendly and includes a much longer battery life. Amazon has it in black, red, or white for $299.
This speaker comes in a rugged and non-rugged version – we recommend the rugged version because why not? The Shoqbox SB7200 is drop and splash proof, so toting it to the beach or the pool is fine, as long as you don’t take a dip with it. The battery last for a good 8-hours, and if you’re seeking an unusual control scheme, look no further than the smart sensor, which allows you to stop/play and skip tracks back and forth just by waving your hand in front of it. There is a built-in mic for taking calls and an extra rugged dial that easily allows you to control volume. Amazon has it for $168.
Built tough, this thing is designed to take drops and dings. The Soulmate offers some pretty stupendous volume and decent bass response for its size. It pretty much does everything the aforementioned portable Bluetooth speakers do, but one thing it includes that the other don’t is an integrated 3.5mm AUX cord into it’s rugged rubber base. Available in black or white, with an 8-hour battery life, the Jabra Soulmate sells at Amazon for $180.
We’ve never endorse the use of drugs, but we would however tell you to grab one of these portable Bluetooth speakers, the Beats Pill. Beats is known for their headphones, which have largely been sold on their looks. We’re happy to report that the Pill is probably one of the loudest and smallest Bluetooth speakers out there. That said, it’s short on bass – the aforementioned speakers have better range – but that’s a caveat we’re willing to overlook since it’s very portable and lightweight. Get yourself a black or red version as the white, while crisp looking, is sure to mar, as is its included white carrying case. Amazon sells it in all colors $200.
Logitech UE Mobile Boombox
The Logitech UE Mobile Boombox is the small, very small brother to the Logitech UE Boombox. But at less than half the cost, it’s a no brainer for anyone looking for a bit of audio, albeit a bit tinny, in their hotel room or perhaps even next to their bed. Don’t bank much on the speaker phone feature, but in a pinch it’s there. And hey, it’s costs just $100, so it’s a great stocking stuffer.