It’s no secret that the Internet has completely changed the way in which we shop for new products and services. These days, when we’re in the market for something new, we don’t first turn to our friends and family for advice like we may have in days of yore like the 1980s. No, we turn to the web and to customer reviews. But with millions of websites out there, sorting through customer reviews can be daunting. That’s why we’ve done the work for you and have compiled this list of the top six portable Bluetooth speakers as rated by Best Buy customers.
The UE Boom is a portable speaker system that is deceptively powerful given its size and funky design. About the same size as a large beer can or small water bottle, the UE Boom features a colour skin with a plasma coating that makes it water and stain resistant. But the design isn’t what has people singing its praises – all reviewers are amazed at the quality of sound it produces as well as how easy it is to set up and use.
The Boom’s 360-degree can-shaped speaker system blasts sound out in every direction, and its reliable Bluetooth connection makes switching songs and adjusting volume a snap at up to 50-feet away. Add to that an easy-to-use UE BOOM app and a battery life of up to 15 hours, and the UE BOOM is the ideal companion for all your listening needs.
“The size, sound and ease of use of the UE Boom speaker make it stand way ahead of the competition, particularly for the cost. The Bluetooth connection is much more reliable than network wireless. Additional functionality is available through an app, which is also very easy to navigate and understand. Everyone who hears it, then sees what is producing the sound, is amazed. I recommend it without reservation.” ~ Victoria, Toronto, ON
Recipient of the 2013 Innovations Award, and Reddot Design Award, the JBL Flip Wireless Speaker has received accolades for its sound quality, especially for its ability to deliver exceptional bass output. Designed to be used both horizontally and vertically, the JBL Flip includes rubberized “feet” in strategic places so it stays put no matter which orientation you choose. Similar to the UE Boom, the reviewers of the JBL Flip weren’t all that concerned about its aesthetic, but were amazed at the sound quality it produced given its price point. One reviewer summed up the JBL Flip perfectly:
“This speaker absolutely exceeded my expectations. I read the reviews before I bought it and they were too good to ignore. For the money, it is without question the best value when it comes to a portable Bluetooth system. Great mids, highs, and bass for the size. Included in the package is a neoprene speaker cover, which I consider to be a areal bonus and a great way to protect your speaker when traveling. If you are considering a portable speaker system look no further than the JBL Flip as you will not be disappointed with your purchase.” ~ Jim, Georgetown, ON
Even better news? JBL is coming out with a new Flip model in the very near future.
Similar to the other Bluetooth speakers on this list, the Bose SoundLink Mini connects wirelessly to smartphones, tablets, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. While it is literally small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, it delivers the full, rich, and clear sound for which Bose has long been known. Reviewers also liked the sleek, contemporary style of the SoundLink Mini, as well as the fact that you could customize the device with optional coloured covers to suit your unique style. But again, it was the sound quality that equated to the SoundLink Mini’s 4.8 out of 5 star review.
“It is rare to say I ever spend money so well but this is probably one of my best and most valuable investments. I take this speaker everywhere and it is consistently blowing me away. I can even place it on my main floor with it cranked and hear it nicely one floor up. Well done Bose. Give this my full recommendation.” ~ Rick, Cambridge, ON
The Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III can be considered the big brother of the SoundLink Mini. While it too connects wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled devices, it is quite a bit larger than the Mini, making it a little less travel-friendly. That said, it is fantastic for an in-home portable speaker system. Whether placed in a bedroom, garage, or backyard patio, the SoundLink III consistently delivers clear sound, and with a 14-hour battery life, can keep the party going well into the night. What the SoundLink III doesn’t have that a number of other Bluetooth speakers do have is the ability to receive phone calls, but that wasn’t an issue with any reviewer.
“We are completely satisfied with our Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III – small enough to easily carry from place to place with power and intensity that can easily fill a room with quality, ambient sound, ranging from rock to easy listening.” ~ Janice, Renfrew, ON
Reminiscent of the top of a microphone, the iHome iDM8 is a rechargeable mono speaker with Bluetooth and speakerphone capability. Not only is it adorable – there is no other word to describe it – but it also pushes out sound that defies its tiny body, kind of like Shakira, which was the biggest surprise for most reviewers. That and how easy it is to set up.
“Considering this unit is slightly larger than a tennis ball, the sound the comes out of it is amazing… I expected it to be tinny and lacking any bass. It is anything but this. (Whatever TruBass Technology is, it works). Bluetooth pairing to the iPad took about 5 seconds. Pairing to the Macbook about 15 seconds. It could not have been easier.” ~ C.M., Calgary, AB
Last, but not least is the Sony Bluetooth / NFC Speaker, coming in at 4 stars out of a possible 5. As the name implies, this speaker system can be paired with both Bluetooth and NFC (or near field technology) enabled devices, and according to its reviewers, doing so is a breeze. Much like the iHome Bluetooth Speaker mentioned above, this Sony Bluetooth speaker is spherical in shape and resembles a black tennis ball. Featuring Circle Sound Technology, it delivers rich sound, which is pretty surprising for such a tiny little speaker. It also lets you take hands-free calls at the push of a button via its built-in speakerphone, and stream music to the speaker dock directly from digital players via an optional auxiliary audio input.
“Oh my this small thing does a really good job. Love it.” ~ T, Richmond, BC
Well said T from Richmond, well said.
And if you like this model, you’ll love the new Sony SRS-X5, with 20 watts of 2.1 channel sound, all contained in a sleek, portable package.
So there you have it – the customers have spoken. You can’t go wrong with any of these six options. Really, it comes down to price point and design. Outside of that, you are sure to get quality, clear, rich sound in a portable stereo system. Happy listening!
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. During the day, she works as Marketing & Business Development Manager for Vancity Credit Union ... by night she writes, designs, builds Wordpress websites, and fights crime.