Braven's compact, water-resistant BRV-1 Bluetooth has been out for a while, but it's now come down in price to the point where it's a reasonable value at a little more than a $100 -- or about $50 less than its list price. Soundwise, it compares favorably to some the better small Bluetooth speakers out there, including the UE Mini Boom, and is nicely designed, with a couple of different color options to choose from.
If you turn the BRV-1 around, it does look a little like a night-vision scope, but all this thing does is stream your music from any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone from about 30 feet away.
On top of the unit there are volume controls along with a power button and pause/play button. Aside from the water-resistant design, you get a few extra features. There's a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls and under a screw-on cap on the back of the unit, you'll find an auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices, a battery life indicator, and a USB charging port.
That port allows you to charge a cell phone from the speaker's internal rechargeable battery, which is rated to power the speaker for 12 hours on a full charge at modest volume levels (it charges via a microUSB connection). Naturally, the battery life will dip if you crank the speaker for long periods.
The speaker plays pretty loud for its size and sounds comparatively good -- by that I mean it manages to avoid having a harsh edge so long as you don't crank the volume too much. It doesn't play as loud as JBL's Flip 2 or the more expensive UE Boom (that speaker sounds significantly better). And like most mini wireless speakers, it does have its limitations, particularly in the bass department -- it just doesn't come across as a fuller-sounding, large speaker -- and is strongest in the midrange (it sounds best with mellower acoustic tracks).