Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Bluetooth speaker review: A Bluetooth mini speaker priced to sell

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Sound quality: 7.0
  • Value: 9.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz sounds good for a modestly priced mini Bluetooth speaker. It also offers good battery life, built-in speakerphone capabilities, and an attractive though somewhat generic design. A carrying pouch is included.

The Bad Some people won't like how bright the blue light is on the front of the unit; speaker has a Mini-USB port (for charging) instead of the now more common Micro-USB port.

The Bottom Line The Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz may not look incredibly swanky, but it delivers good sound, features, and battery life for its modest price point.

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I'm not sure how product managers come up with names for their products, but Oontz certainly stands as one of the odder-sounding names for a product I've come across in recent times. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing when you consider how hard it is to stand out in the hypercompetitive portable mini Bluetooth speaker market, where a lot of the products look and sound the same and offer similar features.

Like a lot of these little speakers, the Oontz and its little brother, the Oontz Angle, play bigger than their small size would indicate. But what helps set the Oontz speakers apart is that they're attractively designed, have built-in speakerphone capabilities and good battery life (more than 10 hours), and deliver sound that's comparable to what you get from more expensive products of the same ilk. That makes them great values at their current price points of $49.99 and $39.99 respectively.

Design and features
The Oontz comes in many color options and is 5.2 inches wide, 2.8 inches high, and 2.6 inches deep. It weighs 10.1 ounces, which makes it a pretty lightweight unit. The Oontz Angle's design has a bit more panache (I liked it better), but the Oontz's slightly larger design allows it to deliver more bass, which is important.

The Oontz comes in several different color options. Sarah Tew/CNET

Both products have a custom generic look and feel to them. Yes, that's an oxymoron, but what I mean by that is they have some inexpensive underpinnings (inexpensive is a polite way of saying "cheap") and yet they manage to rise above those underpinnings with a nice, soft-to-touch finish, sturdy speaker grilles, and clean lines.

But I did have a few gripes. For starters, I didn't like that both products have a Mini-USB port for charging the unit instead of the now more standard Micro-USB port that's found on most non-Apple smartphones and tablets (a cable is included but not a power adapter). And overall, the product just doesn't have the swankier look and feel of such products as the JBL Flip and Jawbone Jambox, both of which cost more. Another downside for some people will be the blue light on the front of the speaker. Alas, it can't be dimmed or turned off completely, and some people may find it a little bright (I didn't think it was such a big deal, but another CNET editor really didn't like it).

The control buttons on the side of the unit. Sarah Tew/CNET

While most people will control their music through their mobile devices, the Oontz does have some control buttons on the side (with the Oontz Angle, they're on the back near the top of the unit). The $50 Oontz reviewed here has a few more controls than the Angle. For example, you can skip tracks forward and back as well as pause and play your music. But both have call answer/end buttons for the speakerphone as well as volume controls and an on/off switch.

There's also an auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices, though it can be a little tricky to switch to the port for playback. It requires holding down the "source button," which also happens to be the power button.

As noted, the Oontz (like the Oontz Angle) has speakerphone capabilities. The feature works well enough, but it helps to be sitting or standing close to the speaker while you're talking; callers will be able to hear you more clearly.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep. 4, 2012
  • Color Lime
  • Type Speaker
  • Wireless Technology Bluetooth
  • Connectivity Technology Wired
    Wireless
  • Speaker Type Portable Bluetooth speaker
About The Author

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music and The Big Exit. Both titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, and Nook e-books.