JBL Flip review:

Portable Bluetooth speaker stands tall

Like most of these speakers, the Flip is strongest in the midrange and sounds best playing acoustical material. It sounded clean and much bigger than its size on tracks such as The National's "Runaway" and Wilco's "Black Moon." But feed it more bass-heavy material -- hip hop or techno -- and it shows some strain, particularly at higher volumes. Not that it doesn't produce some bass. It just has its limitations.

This is par for the course for this mini speaker category. I should also point out that while Bluetooth wireless streaming has improved over the years, it, too, has its shortcomings. You'll experience the occasional dropout and your music gets compressed, though that matters less when you're listening to a tiny speaker such as this.

Like most Bluetooth speakers, the Flip has a rated range of around 30 feet, but you can do better than that in an open environment. No remote is included because your mobile device -- the Flip works with iOS and Android smartphones and tablets as well as most Bluetooth-enabled devices -- acts as a remote.

Battery life comes in at around 5 hours, which is OK but not great. If you play the speaker at higher volumes, you probably won't hit that, but you can do better if you turn down the volume to quieter levels.

The speaker in its carrying case. The charger must be carried separately. Sarah Tew/CNET

I liked the JBL Flip. Aside from the ungainly AC adapter, I thought it was well designed, and I appreciated that JBL included a neoprene carrying case, which offers decent protection. Few of these types of speakers sound fantastic -- and the Flip doesn't either -- but it sounds as good as anything at this price point, and in some cases, slightly better. Logitech's UE Mini Boombox is more compact and has a rugged finish, but the JBL sounds a little bit better and has slightly stronger bass performance.

In the end, while the Flip doesn't necessarily stand head and shoulders above the rest of its competitors, it does stand tall and distinguishes itself enough to make it easily recommendable.

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