Portable Speakers on outdoor trips

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Summer is finally here. You can’t imagine what that means for us when winter skipped spring and jumped right into summer. Hopefully, the summer will stay on for a while. While it is there, we should enjoy it. And this means being outdoors, enjoy hot summer nights and making those picnic parties in the parks and lakes rock.

Almost everyone has a smart phone nowadays. You can take pictures, write emails, chat and listen to streaming music 24/7 anywhere you are. Most likely you will be using your headphones too. So what happens when you want your garden party to really rock and yet not want to bring out your 3k stereo speakers from your living room? You use a portable speaker. And today we will be looking at 3 different brands that’s portable.

Phillips SBA 1500 portable active speakers

I have been using these speakers for quite sometime now. I first discovered this in a french supermarket in the electronic department while out hunting for groceries. The speakers on the mobile phone or laptop is just not sufficient to give out a good sound, so i thought an enhancer would be good. Thats when I spotted the Phillips egg-shaped speakers on the shelf. Priced at 15 eur, it was definitely not a wrong decision and soon, it gave us really good sounds in the evening while dinner was getting prepared.

 

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Its 2x 1.5 watt speakers topped with a base booster that’s supported with 3 AAA batteries. So you have the choice to use either the active speakers without the integrated amplifier that operates without any power (!) , or switch on the booster and enjoy true base like a real subwoofer. There’s an Audio Line-In for your 3,5mm plugs. For the transport, you can integrate the speakers into the booster making it portable and protecting it from any damage. Portability-wise: quite heavy, with 485 g and the egg shape form is sometimes a little difficult to integrate in your luggage and rolls off everywhere else during transportation.

XQBeat 2.0 portable bluetooth speaker

The XQBeat from Xqisit came as a birthday gift and was supposed to be my hands free car phone speakers on longer journeys to work. It has a bluetooth connection and is powered via usb. With a fully loaded battery after a 3 hour load, it can power up to about 5 hours of music or hands free phone talk. The sound volume can be controlled manually on the device as well as using the smart phone’s volume pincher….. Whats really good is that it’s cable free so your device doesn’t have to be next to the speakers. With its 6 watt speaker in a box, it was a great subwoofer sound for both music and phone calls.

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Pairing the device to your smart phone or laptop was easy once all bluetooth connections were on. Once connected, the lady in the box tells you that “your device is connected”. So, hands free is great. The sound was clear, loud and it was a clear surprise what came out of the little box. There’s a Line-In for your 3,5mm plug. However, anyone wanting to use this amplifier as a pure hands free speaker in the car might get disappointed. The interference during a phone call is so bad that the caller hardly understands what you say. It got worse when the vehicle speeds up and the conversation gets lost in a sea of persistent hums or buzzes in the background. I tried it out at home in different rooms and received the same results. The caller always complained about not hearing what I said, while I heard the caller perfectly well. I would say, the integrated microphone needs some real improvement. Otherwise, the design is modern, clean and weighs just 195 g.

Rock Out 2 Speakers, Goal Zero

An invest in a  third or fourth speaker wasn’t planned, but I couldn’t resist the offer of trying out a portable speaker suitable for outdoors. The new Rock Out speakers came and it went along with me to the next beach trip. The box around the speakers is out of solid wood, giving the music a more natural sound than its other competitors here. The 2×3 Watt Stereo speakers are cushioned for protection. With it’s elastic straps, you could practically hang them on a branch, bush or place them anywhere possible. The box is robust, protected from water and dust and pretty water resistant! It gets powered over the USB connection which you can input from the laptop’s USB or directly sun power from the GoalZero Nomad 7 Solar Panel within 2-3 hours by full sun. There’s a net-pocket inside which can hold an iPhone without problem, so that your smart phone is also protected and in place while music is running. The little padded box weighs 345 g. A fully powered battery gives you 20 hours + (!) of sound. Thats about a week of music, 5 hours each day.  Whats really nice is that you could chain multiple Rock Out speakers together for more sound. The design of the new Rock Out 2 Speakers makes it even easier for the user to control the music without having to look for the smartphone / music device. Control panels are now placed outside where you easily adjust volume, fast forward or backward, switch on and off. The Darkbass Technology delivers great quality sound outdoors without making your music sound cheap.

What could be better:  A bluetooth connection would make the device unbeatable, with no strings attached. There will be less problems of interferences while the smartphone is working (by itself!) in the background searching for new posts and any data/network connection. And you can still use the phone  without having to be tied down to the speakers. A battery power viewer would be handy too.

The Rock Out Speakers 2.0 is available from September 2013 onwards.

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Summary

All these 3 speakers are good buys. You are not going to expect sounds that comes out from a Bang and Olufson speaker, but you also will not have to bear with the micky mouse chimes coming from your smart phone or laptop. Although the XQBeat had great reviews in the net for its sound, and being the lightest, I was disappointed that its use is confined to a pure amplifier. The integrated microphone needs improvement before this could be useable for any car. I loved however the idea of transmitting the music through the air, free from cables. This offered much more freedom while you use your phone for other purposes. Goal Zeros new Rock Out 2 speakers suited outdoor travellers well. If you want to go on a road adventure and your biggest fear is power, then fear no more. Combined with the Nomad 7 solar Panel, you will be independent from any electrical socket and can enjoy great music.

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