Divoom Voombox-Party Wireless Speaker Hardware Review

Divoom Voombox-Party Wireless Speaker Hardware Review

Jun 4, 2015

We love to check out wireless solutions, especially speakers. A tool that can enhance sound on the go? Let me loose!

Well, here’s the Divoom Voombox-Party.

The review package we were sent contains the speaker, power cable, audio cable and documentation. The unit looks like it means business; it looks like a solid brick of technology, with gently tapered angles and a defined rubberized finish. The control bank at the top is simple to navigate: power toggle, bluetooth pairing, phone answering and two buttons for volume. To the side, there are covered ports for power and audio cable. In hand, it is hefty piece, and it feels well crafted. Officially, it comes in at 9.17 x 2.13 x 4.06 inches and 2.4 lbs.

It takes a while to charge up the unit, close to 3 hours. Once the unit is ready to go, connecting it to a source is easy simple, and I suspect anyone who has played with bluetooth protocol will be at home pairing this: tap the bluetooth button on the speaker, search for it from the mobile device, and it’s good to go.


The sound quality is surprisingly good; it reflects clearly at different volume levels; at louder ones, it did feel a tad hollow, and I think it could use some range. The subwoofer definitely has personality, and mostly keeps the unit from being overwhelmed by itself. The additional phone functionality is peachy too; the voice quality is decent, and the switch-over is seamless. The audio port allows for conventional wired usage, and that is nifty to have on occasion.

My biggest gripe with the unit mostly has to do with the design. I found myself trying to set it lengthwise because I kept on losing the controls. For semi-permanent usage, this isn’t a a big problem, but I tend to move speakers around a fair bit.

It’s easy to like the Voombox-Party. Without a doubt, the positives easily outweigh any and all negatives. It’s a wireless piece with wired sensibilities. At $91.50 (via Amazon), it could be just the piece one is looking for.

Olixar Light Bulb Speaker Hardware Review

Olixar Light Bulb Speaker Hardware Review

Jan 7, 2015

We get pitched a fair amount of accessories to take a look at, and, frankly, some are very, uh, unique. Not all work, either; some are ambitious, but might have a fatal flaw. Or two. Or seven. In any case, mobile accessories can be interestingly varied.

I’d like to say I am open-minded, and I do feel like a decent assessor of product, but every now and then, I am surprised.

But hold a sec; let’s talk about the Olixar Light Bulb Speaker.

The name says it all: it’s a light bulb that doubles as a bluetooth-enabled speaker. The review package MobileFun sent us highlights the unit; in hand, it is mostly white, with a gold mid-section. It is more streamlined than “regular” bulbs, but also weighs a bit more. It sports LED light too, and emits 3W light (which the distributor says is equivalent to 50W from a standard bulb. It screws into regular receptacles (the package comes with an adapter piece for European light sources) and works the same way. Turn on the switch, and it bathes the room in bright, warm light. It functions well upright and upside down.


Now, the part that is of special interest is the speaker functionality. The Bulb has a 4.0 bluetooth module, and when it is on, one can pair it to a bluetooth audio source. Anyone who has paired bluetooth devices will do this instinctively: search and tap to pair, and after this, the Light Bulb Speaker streams the audio seamlessly. The audio quality is pretty nice, and it continues working with the constant electric source.

All in all, a surprisingly effective and portable audio solution.

But back to the opening premise. Light Bulb speakers are not an overly unique or new idea. Pricing and efficacy might be the biggest barrier to adoption. That’s where this piece just might be successful, in that it works well, and won’t break the bank (at $32.99 via MobileFun).

And, by and large, it showed one reviewer that the proof is in the pudding.

Edifier Prisma Encore Bluetooth Sound System Hardware Review

Edifier Prisma Encore Bluetooth Sound System Hardware Review

Nov 4, 2014

Speakers are big business, and Edifier has a good reputation in that specific sector. It has a host of offerings, portable and not much so, but for the most part, the name invokes quality.

As such, we can’t really pretend to be unexcited by the opportunity to take a look at its Prisma Encore Sound System.

The review package Edifier sent us was sizable, and hinted at the goodness inside. The review box came with several pieces: three main pieces in black finish with silver accents, and several smaller accessories. The main unit is the subwoofer, and there are two satellite speakers; there is also a power cord, adapter, 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable, a remote with battery and documentation.

The speakers have wired plugins for connection to the subwoofer, it (the subwoofer) logically houses the power button, speaker connector ports, volume controls and 3.5mm auxiliary port. The main unit is domed, with the side units following the main design paradigm. Altogether, standing together, the system looks sleek and futuristic without slipping into the area of pretentiousness.


In action, the setup is intuitive; I was able to get it placed and connected in wired fashion in under two minutes. The sound is rich, expansive and gets loud. The control works well, and I was surprised at the fidelity of the output. Having said that, the cool thing is that the Prisma Encore simply refuses to be a one-trick pony: it also supports bluetooth connectivity. Pairing to a bluetooth source is easy enough, and as long as the auxiliary cable is not plugged in, bluetooth audio is streamed from a paired source.

This combined solution is not really very mobile in nature, but I don’t think that it is trying to be. The semi-permanent nature works as a connected sound system for TVs, mobile devices and everything between. My biggest quibble is the relative size, though. It does take up a good deal of space, but, again it goes to what the unit really is. Pricing might give some folks pause, but in the end, we have looked at more expensive units.

Altogether, I liked the concept: remote control, sleek polished look, and quality output. Edifier has no shame in striving to be one’s one stop shop for audio needs, and it is hard to stop them from taking that title.

It is an Edifier after all.

CODE Donut Bluetooth Speakers Hardware Review

CODE Donut Bluetooth Speakers Hardware Review

Aug 13, 2014

Someone should have told me not to have a sweet tooth while taking a formal look at the CODE Donut Bluetooth Speakers. Be warned: if you have a thing for sugar highs, this interestingly looking piece might have one over the edge. Blame TaoTronics for sending us one to appraise.

The review box was colorfully presented, and gave a good idea of what was within. Inside, there was the main unit, micro-USB cable and a small NFC tag along with the requisite paperwork. We received the white unit (out of four choices including black, tan and pink); it is barely bigger than the regular-sized doughnut its design comes from. It weighs less than half a pound and has a diameter of 4.92 inches. The unit is mostly crafted with hard plastic on the exterior, with cute designs and intricate cut-outs that destroy any chance of monotony. The white has some purposeful brown splotches which simultaneously maintain the confectionery motif and serve as as structural pieces of the unit. In one color point, there are daintily placed on/call and volume buttons; another flash of brown serves as a flap to cover the micro-USB opening and on the bottom, more brown plastic signifies the base. All in all, it looks whimsical without stumbling over the line to silly.


Connecting the Bluetooth 3.0 unit to to another bluetooth source is easy enough, and involves toggling the unit on and then holding down the same button to put the Donut in pairing mode. After pairing is achieved, audio signals go through seamlessly. The NFC works well too.


The sound is crisp; it isn’t the sharpest though, and I thought the bass was a bit muted, and the treble could use some zip too. For admirable sound that isn’t geared towards the most extreme audiophile, this does the job. I liked the output from leveled points, and the range in my testing fell a bit short of the advertised 30 feet. The 1000 mAh battery does give a decent amount of time (it claims 8 hours, and it was still going strong at 5 hours).

I like the call functionality; it actually pauses the music to deal with calls as a speakerphone. Audio on calls was a bit muddy, but to be fair, I could not tell if it was cell-induced. It works well with streamed music and even with my laptop via external bluetooth chip.


For a simple, atypical option, the CODE Donut is a fine option, especially if one is able to resist taking a bite out of it.

The CODE Donut is available for $50.44 via Amazon.com

Neptor Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Neptor Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Jul 8, 2014

Mugsy Bogues. Mia Hamm. Messi. Well, the Neptor Portable Bluetooth Speaker looks to further prove that massive performance can and does emanate from relatively small packages.

The review unit we were provided with was relatively humble, containing the speaker and a matching, flat micro-USB cable. Size-wise, it could be described as diminutive; the cylindrical shape fits comfortably in the palm of the hand. Its dimensions are 3.5×2.5×2.5 inches, and it weighs about 8 ounces. The bright red coloring is only interrupted by the logo-ed band that runs across the frame, and the platform piece that makes up the bottom. At the top, perforated audio holes are incorporated, and at the bottom, a clear holder props the unit up. There is a micro-USB port that is hidden with a flap. In addition to red, the manufacturer also puts it out in blue, green, orange and purple.

What sets this seeming tyke apart are the physical controls, which mostly boil down to twisting and tapping. For example, turning it on involves tapping and pressing down on the top of the piece for three seconds. Conversely, pairing the unit to a bluetooth audio source follows the same pattern with most pairings of this type; with the one device seeing the other, one taps/presses down on the top of the speaker to initiate the pairing sequence, as signified by the flashing blue light. After pairing is complete, the light turns blue, and one is ready to go.


Increasing the volume from the unit is a matter of twisting the upper half of the item along the aforementioned chrome band; twisting it in the opposite direction reduces the volume. Additionally, after connecting, tapping on the top can be used to toggle play or pausing of music. Long-pressing on it for three seconds turns off the unit.

The sound won’t shatter window panes, but to be fair, this isn’t what it seems to be designed to do; as a simple, easy-to-carry companion accessory, it works well, providing relatively clear audio. The added speakerphone functionality (calls can be answered with taps) is definitely welcome.

The sound will probably not be lauded by serious audiophiles, and the lack of wired option may give some folks pause. The battery did give out a bit before the advertised 4-hour limit, but all in all, it works well, and the exceptional portability adds to its value.

The Neptor Twist & Tap Bluetooth Portable Bluetooth Speaker is available for $29.99 via Amazon.com.

BÄ“m Wireless Outlet Speaker Hardware Review

BÄ“m Wireless Outlet Speaker Hardware Review

May 14, 2014

Bluetooth is Mr. Old Reliable. It’s about 20 years old, which is about three lifetimes in human years, and it just keeps on getting better and remains one of the most functional mobile standards out there. Headphones, speakers, file transfer… even close-quarter communications. The biggest restriction, really, is proximity.

When it comes to audio equipment, it is a great complement. It makes great equipment that more mobile. Wireless speakers are far from a novelty, but new Bluetooth specifications make such even better proposition. Even with low energy developments, the charge-recharge cycle can be tedious at times. That’s why a device like the bÄ“m Wireless Outlet Speaker is so timely.

The review device we received was the black model (it also comes in white); it weighs less than a pound and has dimensions of 7.5 x 2.5 x 6 inches. In reality, it weighs less than one might expect, and is mostly comprised of bem2hard plastic on the exterior. Towards the top is the foldable two-pin plugin piece, and at the bottom are in and out auxiliary ports that sandwich a USB point that can be used to charge smart devices. At the very top is the on/pair button. Also in the box are m2m 3.55 mm cable and documentation.

Pairing is easy; long-pressing the ON button and finding it on a Bluetooth source takes seconds. The output is pretty clear, though I did feel like there is some echoing. The sound quality is quite equitable overall, and I did like the projection. I was able to pipe music to and from it via cable as well.

It’s biggest plus probably also is the source of its biggest potential drawback. The ability to be connected translates to a need to be connected, which means that the experience is defined by where outlets are located. Also, while it has wired functionality, this is also somewhat hamstrung by the need to stay tethered to a wall.

The Wireless Outlet Speaker isn’t exactly new to the market, but it’s hard to argue against its overall value. It is defined by its dual nature: it can be semi-permanent and yet so portable, and even retains wired functionality. For folks who don’t want to mess with charging cables, it just might be a godsend.

The Wireless Outlet Speaker is available on Amazon for $73.00.

G-Pop Bluetooth Speaker Review

G-Pop Bluetooth Speaker Review

Feb 11, 2014

G-Project has carved a respectable reputation in the wireless speaker market, and we got the opportunity to check out its ultra-portable bluetooth speaker, the G-Pop. Finding out if it strikes the perfect balance between price, functionality and sound output is a worthy endeavor in and of itself.

It comes in a short cylindrical form (less than 3.5 inches tall), well rounded without being paunchy, solid in hand while avoiding unnecessary heft. The black review unit is mostly comprised of hard plastic, with rubberized and chrome accents. Running down one end is a prominent strip that has LED, play/speakerphone and volume buttons; at the bottom are the power button, pair button and auxiliary toggle, while at the top there is a a recessed hook than can be used to secure the speaker, say, to a hiking bag or bike. There is also a port for charging and/or wired connection that is hidden by a flap.gpop1

The G-Pop, size-wise, revels in its portability. While it would probably look awkward in all but the baggiest of pockets, it is infinitely at home on a go-bag and/or purse.

Pairing it after the courtesy charge is as easy as turning it on and initiating the pairing sequence to an eligible device. The sound quality is, frankly, admirable. it packs a relatively serious audio punch for something as small as it is. The design seems to encourage balanced transmission of sound, and the speakers handled volume instructions well. The clarity is okay, though it feels a bit soft on base. For folks that might be looking to get some wired use, or some functionality out of non-bluetooth enabled device, the auxiliary cord that works with standard 3.55mm jacks will be quite useful.

One of the biggest draws has to be the price. Packing in such value helps one overcome concerns pertaining to sound quality or the non-universal nature of the wired component. It even came close to the advertised 8 hours of play time, which, frankly, shocking enough to make it compelling on that fact alone.

The G-Pop can be obtained for 39.99 from the G-Project website or Amazon.com.

JBL Pulse Hardware Review

JBL Pulse Hardware Review

Jan 31, 2014

We had an opportunity to check out sound maven JBL’s Charge Wireless Speakers, and it was a pleasant experience. As such, we were happy to check out its sibling, the JBL Pulse Wireless Speakers.

Like your run-of-the-mill brothers, the Charge and the Pulse bear plenty of familial similarities. They are both cylindrical, but the latter has more deliberately tapered ends. The black exterior underscored the solid feel, with mesh-like surface (a departure from the fused finishing of the Charge) mostly preventing the accessory from looking cheap. On one end are buttons: pairing, power and light control. The other is bare and serves as the base when upright. Along the body are ports for coaxial and micro-usb cables. For comparative purposes, the Pulse is just a shade taller than the Charge, coming in at 7 inches tall and less than a pound and a half in weight.

Powering it up is as simple as connecting the included adapter/cable combo to an electric source; powering it on, I daresay, is almost the coolest part. The specs sheet boldly pronounces LED lights, but the actual display is pretty surprising. It boasts scores ofpulse2 LED lights that run around and along the base. When the device is on, those lights all come on in a dizzying explosion of color that is as once a bit gimmicky and inexplicably commanding at the same time. The light patterns can be toggled or turned off by the button at the top, and most sequences react to volume. It’s an interesting feature, and one that I actually enjoyed more than I would have envisaged. Additionally, the JBL MusicFlow app allows the lights to be controlled as well as providing an easy way to adjust sound performance from Android devices.

As soon as bluetooth pairing was attempted it connected seamlessly in seconds, and it’s also NFC-enabled.

The sound doesn’t have the high level of bass some people dearly crave; compared to the Charge, it gentler in that aspect, but it still holds it own sound quality-wise. It does provide great volume, and in our informal testing, it actually beat the advertised 5-hr usage time. It worked just as well as a wired speaker.

I did miss the portable USB charging feature from the Charge; I also think the app could be a bit more intuitive. All in all though, it falls just within what I would term acceptable limits of reasonable portability, and the overall value is hard to ignore.

The Pulse is available from Amazon for $199.

JBL Charge Hardware Review

JBL Charge Hardware Review

Aug 30, 2013

Wireless audio is a must-have, almost. When companies with JBL’s rep spit out stuff like the Charge Bluetooth speakers, it generally pays to take heed.

First, the hardware itself: the review piece was the blue colored unit, which was a pleasant change from the sometimes drab black that most electronic pieces seem to come in nowadays. For those weird folks that are not enthralled with everything Carolina Blue, there is grey and green.

It’s a deliberate item, likened to a well-hewn cylinder with somewhat shaped edges. The speaker grills cover a good portion of the body, and the ones on the one end hint at the possibilities with regards to placement during use. There are charging spot and a 3.5mm aux-in ports at the back of the unit, and a covered USB slot at one end.charge1

What the Charge claims to do well is transmit music. The pairing prices was seamless for all the Android devices I paired it with; it’s a simple matter is discovery and selection. On my main device, it reconnected easily enough as long as I hadn’t paired anything else to it in the interim. It also connects well with my laptop.

I’ve said it before: I don’t rate orchestras in my spare time, but I think the sound quality from the unit is impressive. It handles  audio files with reasonable aplomb, from Brit pop (don’t judge me) to audio translations from YouVersion. It’s nice to be able to test equalizer and actually hear the difference in the rendering of music. There isn’t really an explosion of bass, but I am okay with that.

I really like the extras; the charging cable and pouch are nice. The Charge can be placed upright, can be used while charging and, with the included USB cable, can also trickle charge devices. Not bad. Especially nice is the ability to plug in devices via male-to-male 3.55 mm cables.

In my testing, I was able to play music and podcasts continuously for about 9 hours straight; I did notice some static and connectivity issues when tethered via bluetooth short of a several dozen feet away. Unlike it’s stablemate (the JBL Flip), this one doesn’t have a speakerphone toggle, and a dedicated app would have been an acceptable form of vanity.

It was a surprisingly nice item, and competes well with similarity priced speakers and docks.

The JBL Charge is available from the JBL site and/or Amazon for $149 at the time of this review.

Coda One Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Coda One Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Apr 30, 2013

My favorite technological concept? Convergence. In stark terms, I like to be as functional as possible while carrying as few devices as possible. It’s all about creating a hub of business, fun and everything in between, with my smartphone as the center.

This is one reason I found the multi-use Coda One Bluetooth Speaker so compelling. I mean, for real? This accessory promised to fill gaps with regards to mobile uses of bluetooth: car hand-free peripheral, wireless speakers and an ad-hoc handset.

Again… for real?

The review device came in an inviting package, with USB cable, clip and car lighter adapter. I really liked the build 2013-04-22 17.52.37quality; I have seen folks use the term “feels good in hand” very ambiguously. Well, it made sense with the Coda One. It easily avoided being a barbell, and the gentle heft made it feel pretty, dare I say, confident. The design was pleasantly atypical, and made sense within the context of the device’s pledged goals. It was black, sleek and nice to look at, with the minimalist buttons, lighted indicators and cleverly placed ports.

Pairing to my phone was easy. My Android device easily found it, and the device announced the pairing robustly. The Multi-Function Button was a catchall function toggle of sorts, allowing me to switch modes. For the true techies, it supports Bluetooth 3.0. It did well in distance tests, and the visor clip made car testing a pleasurable breeze. Call quality was good both ways.

As a bluetooth speaker, it performed well. The output was good at short range, which made it pretty nice as a car accessory. For music, it did as well, but didn’t have the range of more expensive pieces. I’m an admittedly poor excuse for an audiophile, but I still thought the bass could have been a bit crisper. For stuff like music and podcasts, it held its own when close to me; at distance it was not as sharp.

I thought the use of the handset function was a bit gimmicky at first, but I found a major use for it: the final piece of a VOIP telephony solution for a tablet.For calls that came in while using the speakers, I simply adjusted volume and placed to my ear. Of course, the sound stream was not as direct as a “real” handset, but it did an adequate job.

All in all, the Coda Onemay not blow the roof off in any one category, but I felt its true value is in its overall utility and portability. It easily became close to indispensable, something that can be used for many things. It can be purchased on Newegg, eBay and Amazon, and moreinfo on this and other bCoda products can be found on Twitter and Facebook.