Say hello to my little friend.
I first spotted the GoGroove BlueSync SPB way back at CES 2014, where I was instantly intrigued by its multi-function capabilities. So many cool features in a little box that looks like a mobile charger? Yeah, I gotta share that with ma cheeps.
It took awhile, but it's finally here -- and there's a deal to be had. For a limited time, AccessoryGenie has the GoGroove BlueSync SPB for $34.99, shipped. That's after applying coupon code SPBDEAL at checkout. Regular price: $49.99.
The SPB is first and foremost a portable Bluetooth speaker, one that sounds surprisingly good despite being slim enough to slip in a pocket. And it talks: slide the switch from Off to Music and you'll hear a welcome message and mode status. This is a little jarring at first, and perhaps a little louder than I'd prefer, but it's nice knowing what mode the speaker is in so I don't have to decipher a multicolor LED or the like.
Like many Bluetooth speakers, this one has a built-in mic, and therefore doubles as a speakerphone. Handy!
Function #3: Bluetooth receiver. You can use the SPB to endow your car stereo, home stereo, or favorite headphones with Bluetooth goodness. Just pair your device, then plug in your 'phones or run the included audio cable to your stereo. Similar gizmos cost around $20 to $25 on their own.
Likewise, a 2,200mAh mobile charger could easily run you $20, but it's part of the SPB package. Obviously the battery powers the speaker as well, but it's a safe bet you can get at least a bit of surplus charge for your phone when you need it.
The real surprise, for me, is the FM radio. I love being able to listen to, say, NPR, without having to fire up a radio app. But it's kind of a hassle to use: the only way to change stations is by using the seek function, and every station is announced ("Nine. Two. Point-three megahertz.") before it starts playing.
The volume control in particular is a pain: It's part of the small control knob that juts out from the top, and you have to hold it in either direction to raise or lower the volume. To seek forward/back through radio stations, you simply give a quick twist. This is totally backward, but ultimately it's no big deal. My only real complaint is that the lowest volume level you can get while listening to radio -- before the speaker drops into mute -- is pretty loud. Thankfully, in Bluetooth speaker mode, you can make it much quieter.
My other gripe: To charge the SPB itself, you need to use the included Mini-USB cable. I'm not sure why, when virtually every other speaker/mobile charger on the planet relies on far more common Micro-USB.
Don't let these little hassles stop you from picking up an SPB. It's compact, cool-looking, and more versatile than anything in your carry-on. Indeed, I think this is my new favorite travel companion.
Bonus deal: Just in time for the MLB playoffs (go Tigers!), Best Buy has the top-rated Sharp Aquos LC-48LE551U 48-inch LED HDTV for $399.99, shipped (plus tax). It lists for $600 and sells elsewhere for $450. (In fact, Amazon has it at $449, and you might be able to leverage the company's Low Price Guarantee to match Best Buy's price -- and dodge the sales tax. Assuming Amazon doesn't tax in your state, of course.)
User reviews are pretty stellar at both sites, and PC Mag awarded it an Editors' Choice.