ProsAmazing sound quality and design for the price; portable, if not quite pocketable; reasonable battery life
ConsBattery runs down when paired but not playing; LED indicator light functioning could be more useful
It's been a long time coming, but from our point of view, Bluetooth is finally coming into its own as more and more consumers listen to streaming audio. Sure, we've had Bluetooth speakers and headphones for years, but there were typically high-end products from established manufacturers that came at a signficant price premium. Often, manufacturers would nearly double the price of keyboard, mice, headphones, and speakers, just to get Bluetooth on the spec sheet.
But times they are a-changing. Bluetooth is finally showing up in bargain-priced accessories, opening up whole new market segments and allowing people to use their PCs, phones, tablets, and streaming media devices in ways they never have, because in the past it would have been cost-prohibitive. Enter the new Portable Bluetooth Speaker from iClever, an upstart manufacturer of wireless accessories. We previously reviewed iClever's Folding Bluetooth Keyboard and came away very impressed by the design and build quality, so we were excited when iClever offered us the opportunity to review its new Bluetooth speaker. We were even more excited when we learned that it would sell for around the same price as the Folding Bluetooth Keyboard, which was a fantastic deal at $35.
Now, we know what some readers might be thinking: "how could something so cheap be any good?" Well, trust us, the same thing crossed our minds, informed in part by the $100+ prices of most previous Bluetooth speakers. Read on to find out if this is just a cheap knockoff or a seriously-awesome product. Hint: since no one else has released anything quite like this speaker, it definitely isn't a knockoff!
We'd like to extend a special thank you to iClever for providing us with a review sample of the iClever Portable Bluetooth Speaker.
Description and Features
iClever has sleek industrial design down to a science, and its Bluetooth Speaker looks a lot more expensive than it is, just as the iClever Bluetooth Keyboard did before it. It's clad in metal and soft-touch plastic, with solid rubber buttons. It weighs 8.7oz, or just over half a pound, and meaures 6.5" long, 2.5" tall, and just over 1" thick. It could be considered pocketable in a pinch, although it's just a bit large to carry comfortably in a jeans pocket for an extended period of time. The mesh speaker grille conceals dual 5W speakers, and a smaller grille on the back covers what we assume is the bass output.
In the box, you get the speaker and three accessories: a carrying loop, a USB cable, and a 3.5" aux in cable. We're not sure we'd actually want this speaker hanging from our wrist, but perhaps the carrying loop would help you quickly pull the speaker out of a bag or backpack. And while the inclusion of the USB cable is nice, you'll actually need to supply your own charger. We found that one of our laptop chargers actually didn't work with the speaker, but our cell phone chargers did, and given the ubiquity of such chargers nowadays, you'll probably find one that works. The device has a red indicator light to show that it's charging, a process that takes about 4 hours, although we really can't be sure, as the light never goes out. That seems like an oversight on iClever's part, and perhaps an update that should be applied in a new revision. Amazingly, the Bluetooth Speaker is rated as IPX5 Water Resistant, although we wouldn't go dropping it in the pool or anything like that.
In terms of the user interface, you have five buttons up top: power, play/pause, Bluetooth/Aux, track forward and track back. There's also a microphone, which is intended for use during Bluetooth-connected phone conversations. On the side of the Bluetooth Speaker are the aux in and micro-USB connector, as shown here.
The Bluetooth Speaker also has voice prompts that help you get it up and running. These include "Device is Ready for Connecting," and "Connected," although it's a little loud, and once we got used to operating the speaker, we kind of wished the helpful fellow would pipe down a bit! Combined with the less-that-communicative charging light mentioned above, this voice prompt system could probably use a little tweaking, but only in the sense of dine-tuning, as overall usability doesn't suffer all that much.
Turn to the next page to learn how this stylish little device performed!