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AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker BTV1 review: A value speaker that avoids looking cheap

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It's hard to say what the best value in mini Bluetooth speakers is today, but the generically named AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker BTV1 can count itself among the contenders.

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7.6

AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker BTV1

The Good

The modestly priced <b>AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker BTV1</b> has a simple, attractive design and a decent feature set that includes a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls. Its sound quality, while not great, holds up well against other wireless Bluetooth speakers that cost more.

The Bad

Glossy finish attracts fingerprints; sounds a little thin.

The Bottom Line

The AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker BTV1 is one of the better "generic" mini wireless Bluetooth speakers and a good value at $60.

Never heard of AmazonBasics? It's Amazon's in-house brand, and its cut-out-the-middleman answer to all the off-brand companies that go to China, create a product from a reference design they find in a factory over there, and then sell it online on Amazon and other sites.

So makes its Portable Bluetooth Speaker a good value? Well, for starters it offers similar sound quality to speakers such as the JBL Flip, UE Mini Boom, and Jambone Jambox, but costs less. And while there isn't anything fancy about its style, its simple, clean aesthetic, along with an eye-catching glossy finish, give it a design edge over such competitors as the Urge Basics Soundbrick, Cambridge Soundworks OontZ, and several other budget-priced mini wireless speakers.

True, that glossy finish does show fingerprints. But that's more of a minor annoyance than a major gripe.

The BTV1 has a simple design but manages to avoid looking too generic. Sarah Tew/CNET

As for connectivity, the speaker charges via Micro-USB -- a cable is included but no power adapter -- with battery life rated at 8 hours, which is about average for this type of speaker (for these small speakers battery life ratings tend to be anywhere from 6 to 10 hours). Wireless range is the standard 30 to 40 feet (technically it's 30 feet but you can do a little better at times).

On the side of the speaker you'll find the power switch along with the Micro-USB and audio-in connections. Sarah Tew/CNET

Additionally, there's a audio in port for connecting non-Bluetooth devices (cable not included) and the BTV1 does offer speakerphone capabilities so you can take calls through the speaker from your smartphone or tablet (if, say, you're using Skype).

Performance
When I listen to these small Bluetooth speakers, one of main concerns is how well they handle a wide variety of music without distorting, particularly at higher volumes. The BTV1 came across as well as most sub-$100 Bluetooth speakers (at least compared to the ones I've tested) and sounded relatively natural and fairly clean. It's a bit hyped in the treble (it's a little bright), so it can exhibit a touch of harshness with certain tracks. But for casual listening, it acquits itself pretty well.

The speaker has transport and volume control buttons on the top. Sarah Tew/CNET

The speaker's got a bass radiator on the back, so it helps to place the speaker near a wall to get some reflection and eke out a little more low-end. While the BTV1 a little thin sounding, it's not as thin as some smaller Bluetooth speakers I've tested. In other words, it's well suited to small rooms, but you shouldn't expect rich, full sound out of this little guy.

I also felt that it was more an indoor speaker than an outdoor one, though you can certainly take it outdoors; at 1.2 lbs it's light enough to easily move around. Alas, no carry pouch or case is included.

Conclusion
AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker BTV1 is one of the better "generic" wireless Bluetooth speakers I've tested. There's nothing terribly exciting or special about it, but it gets points for being modestly priced while sounding decent and avoiding looking cheap.

Amazon_Basics_Portable_Bluetooth_Speake_35834967_05.jpg
7.6

AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker BTV1

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Sound 7Value 8