Philips Shoqbox SB7200 review: A tough-as-nails wireless speaker

While you're playing music through the speaker, you can hit the power button again to verify the remaining life of the lithium rechargeable battery. However, the voice reads you the battery level using vague descriptions like "Plenty of life left" -- I would have preferred a more specific indicator that used percentages.

The Shoqbox also doubles as a speakerphone when you pair it with a smartphone, but it's sensitive to wind and the sounds of passersby so I recommend you use this feature in an enclosed area to reduce audible distractions.

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Removing the tethered rubber end cap on the left side of the tube will expose an open USB port for charging, and company provides an AC adapter as well as a USB cable for use with a computer. Philips tells me the speaker will last 8 hours on a full charge, and my anecdotal testing verified that claim, though your mileage may vary. The speaker will also automatically shut off after 15 minutes of disuse.

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The right end cap is a free-spinning volume knob with no level indicators that can lead to accidental adjustments while in transit, giving you an uninvited volume burst the next time you queue up a song. Keep in mind that you can use the corresponding audio player to change the volume and navigate tracks as well.

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The small Smart Sensor on top of the speaker gives you the power to make the same adjustments using hand gestures. Swipe your hand from left to right across the sensor to skip to the next track, or swipe up from the top down to pause your music. Do it again to resume playback.

In my experience, the sensor only picked up the correct gestures half the time, and it feels like a gimmicky way impress your friends when it does work, as opposed to a viable way to control the device. Personally, I'd rather take full control of the speaker through my iPhone's audio player. Philips does let you turn off Smart Sensor entirely by pressing the power button twice in rapid succession, and I had it disabled for most of the duration of my testing, as I suspect you will too.

Performance
The rubber casing surrounding the Shoqbox lends itself to a warmer sound than you hear from competing devices like the Jawbone Jambox. Two neodynium magnets inside give the speaker 4 watts of power, and I should also note that the speaker only fires one way, so be sure to position it with the Smart Sensor facing you to get the most out of the sound.

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All Bluetooth speakers are limited by the compression process that happens over the air, but the Shoqbox still outperforms plenty of speakers in terms of volume and bass bump thanks to the "wOOx" radiator inside. You can actually feel the lower-frequency spectrum and bass thumps on a flat surface, like a tabletop or a desk.

Keep in mind that this speaker won't blow you away with window-shattering levels. If you care more about sound quality than durability, you can save money and pick up the $99 JBL Flip, an alternative that doesn't give off the tinny, canned sound that mars competing models. And despite the marketing jargon that flagrantly uses the word "stereo" to describe speakers like the Shoqbox, the fact is that it only comes with one unit that plays both channels.

If you want true surround sound, you'll have to purchase another Shoqbox and link them to each other, but that can get pricey at $179 for each speaker. Still, I suspect most shoppers reading this review will value portability and endurance over sonic aptitude, and Shoqbox is definitely a cut above the rest.

Conclusion
Smart Sensor aside, the Philips Shoqbox SB7200 offers adventurers a mobile audio option built to survive the dirt and grime of the outdoors. Its 8-watt speaker system is powerful enough to drown out the pops and cackles of a campfire, yet it's still physically light and easily transportable. Whether you're a bass-hungry camper or just a portable audio enthusiast, the Philips Shoqbox SB7200 will put a smile on your face.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Color Black
  • Speaker System Type portable speaker
  • Nominal (RMS) Output Power 8 Watt
  • Speaker Type Portable speaker
  • Wireless Technology Bluetooth 2.1
  • Amplification Type active
  • Connectivity Technology wired
About The Author

Justin Yu covers headphones and peripherals for CNET. When he's not wading through Web gulch or challenging colleagues to typing tests, you can find him making fun of technology with Jeff Bakalar every afternoon on The 404 show.