Sony has just released its SRS-BTS50 bluetooth wireless speaker. Here’s what it looks like in the box (with other colors available):
Here’s what’s in the box:
Setup, Appearance, and Portability (Two Thumbs Up)
Setup was easy, both with my iPad mini and a Mac laptop. Once you link a bluetooth-enabled device to the speaker, the speaker remembers it. You can link multiple devices to it without having a new device unlink the old one.
The buttons are minimal, elegant, and useful. Looking down at the top of the speaker, there’s a charging indicator, a bluetooth indicator, volume buttons, and (to the left of those) a button that allows you to receive or make a call, or to use Siri, as I did on the iPad. In the case of a phone call, the audio comes through the speakers and you speak into the built-in mic.
Here’s a shot of the side inputs (you can still hook up a device using an actual cable to the audio in jack). This is where you plug in the power adapter.
Here’s the pleasant powering on sound, followed by the sound that confirms you’re paired with your Bluetooth device and ready to go:
The greatest virtue of this speaker is its small size and portability. It’s really easy to move it around the house or take it outside, as needed.
Battery Life (Impressive)
The SRS-BTS50 has an impressive battery life for such a small speaker. It claims 10 hours of playback time when using bluetooth, which has been largely true to my experience of using the speaker.
There’s another indicator button at the bottom of the speaker that you can press to hear an audible estimation of how much battery life is left. It stayed at “fully charged” for the first hour and a half or two that I used it, then jumped down to “70%,” where it stayed for another couple hours before jumping to “40%” (it went back up to “70%” after I turned it off overnight). So it’s not as exact as a battery display on a computer, but it’s also more advanced than a speaker that just flashes a light when the battery is “low.” There is a vocal warning and flashing battery light when it’s time to re-charge.
How Does it Sound? (Decent)
What about the sound? There is no loss of mp3 or audio file quality from using the Bluetooth. It sounds as clear as if you were to plug in a device. For those who want to blast their music, the speaker allows you to do that; it can get pretty loud without distorting the sound. And while you can feel that bass when you hold the speaker, the low-end is lacking. An only slightly bigger speaker for a similar price gave me a deeper, more satisfying bass sound.
The mids and highs are fine. There’s no way to EQ the speaker, except any EQing that you do through your device, though that might be expected for a speaker of this size.
Pressing Play from a Distance (Mostly Good)
The speaker’s product page says its “line of sight range” is 30 feet. I’ve found that as soon as 20 feet (even with clear line of sight) the connection can become unpredictable and choppy. At other times it works fine at 25 feet. But 30 feet reception on a consistent basis is not to be expected. (Bluetooth connectivity in this case, however, is not phased by a wall or closed door between device and speaker.)
A remote control for volume would be a nice addition to future iterations of this speaker. Especially since I need to put it up high sometimes:
The speakers sell for $129.99 at Sony’s site, where you can also see all the product specifications and limited warranty information. The speaker is “splash-proof,” too, which means I’ll continue to use it with confidence in the kitchen and on the shelf above the sink.
Thanks to Sony for the review sample. The speaker can also be found at Amazon here.