Miccus Pool Party SPX9 Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Miccus Pool Party SPX9 Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Jul 16, 2014

Summertime is all about the outdoors, grills and pools. Why should the fun stop there? That is what the Miccus SPX9 Bluetooth Speaker asks out loud.

The review box Miccus sent us came with the speaker itself, a male-to-male 3.5mm coaxial cable, USB charging cable, wall adapter, user paperwork and a net carrying bag. The unit itself is mostly grey and black, and is formed in hard plastic, with dual, soft-feeling speaker grills on the front face with an LED indicator along. The top part houses the controls, with an on/phone answering button, back, play/pause and forward buttons, mic and volume toggles. The back piece is molded into a simple handle, and there is a flap that sp1hides opening for the coaxial cable, USB charging connection and micro-USB cable. All in all, it is solid without looking too straitlaced, and looks well fused together.

Pairing the device will be intuitive to anyone that has paired a bluetooth device; it’s a matter of activating the bluetooth source, and turning the speaker on by holding the on button for a few seconds, which puts the speaker into pairing mode. The device then uses beeps to help guide pairing.

The sound quality is admirable. there is a bit of lost sharpness at higher decibels, but the music is mostly clear and far from muddy. The added wired functionality is a boon to, as it makes the speaker available to a wider array of sources. It can be used to answer phones too via speakerphone.

Two elements also make this accessory stand out a bit more: the splash proof nature and the portable charging functionality. The SPX9 is advertised as pool safe, and the finishing and rubber protection underscore this. My admittedly cautious water testing didn’t cause the unit to miss a beat. I especially like being able to plug in a mobile device into the speaker for emergency juice.

Pound for pound, the biggest barrier might be the pricing; at $99.00 (via the Miccus site), it’s in for a lot of competition, even with the extras. Still, for a device that won’t shy away from the occasional wetting, it’s a decent offering.

Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

May 29, 2014

Wireless speakers offerings are somewhat plentiful, and come in at different price ranges. Having choices is almost never a bad thing, which is why gadget lovers should love stuff like Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker.

It has a presence. The speaker itself is gorgeous in its seemingly minimalist look. Closer up, one catches the intricate craftsmanship of the aluminum shell, which encases the right rectangular prism that is bracketed by ports on one side and the control bank on the other. Officially, it comes in at 6.25 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches and less than 14 ounces. In the box, one also gets a micro-USB cable and documentation.

Pairing it to an audio source is a breeze (it also features NFC link-ups), and afterward the initial manual setup, subsequent pairing is automatic. The sound quality, however is exceptionally rich for the size, and the echo that sometimes emanates from box-shaped speakers is absent. The range is equitable, though I did start to hear gaps in quality with a wall or two in between the speakers and source, and it came up a tad short with regards to the advertised 12-hour playback time.

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Beyond looks and music, the 710 does some cool things. It works as a Bluetooth speakerphone, and can wirelessly work in tandem with another 710 if called upon to do do. One feature of interest is its ability to work as an audio pass through device; in other words, the audio out button can be used to connect “regular” wired speakers to it, and in essence creating a bank of multiple output units.

This bad boy doesn’t stop there; additionally it can serve as a power bank to charge devices that accept USB sources. It works great as an emergency charger, albeit (and expectedly) slower than a direct outlet.

It has a hot design, but what lifts this piece up above competitors is the extra functionality. It could be a bit more portable, but the design aesthetic mostly overcomes this reservation. It does a lot of things, but, importantly, it does them quite well.

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.