With so many portable Bluetooth speakers crowding store shelves, it's no small feat to decide which brand and model suits your needs. However, the AmazonBasics Ultra-Portable BTV2 Bluetooth speaker comfortably is certainly one of the better values.
For the uninitiated, AmazonBasics is the company's generic in-house brand that bypasses the middleman and pushes cost savings to the customer. In this case, the BTV2 only costs $29.99 (£23.99 in the UK) and you get a decent-sounding wireless music player in your choice of black, blue, purple, gray or red.
Aside from subtle nuances in sound quality, every Bluetooth speaker relies heavily on a unique design to set itself apart from the rest of the pack, and this one is no different. Similar to competing Bluetooth speakers like the JBL Clip and the Logitech X100 , the BTV2 has a simple, boxy aesthetic with a glossy finish and a mesh speaker grill that covers the unit's internal 3-watt speaker.
The biggest advantage the BTV2 has over its rivals is its ability to blast music in both directions at equal volumes -- that's contrary to the Clip and the X100's unidirectional driver that can only sit on a tabletop pointed at the ceiling.
The speaker charges by way of a Micro-USB cord, and you get a cable to connect it to a computer, but no power adapter. Amazon also rates the battery life at 10 hours, which is above average for this size of wireless speaker.
By comparison, both the X100 and the JBL Clip can claim only 5 hours of battery life at full charge.
Wireless range is reportedly 30 feet, which is also on par with that of other speakers.
The side of the unit has a power switch, a Micro-USB port, and an auxiliary port for connecting non-Bluetooth devices (3.5mm cable not included), and you can also use the BTV2 to take calls as a speakerphone.
Three watts of power is certainly not enough to kickstart a crazy party, but the most important factor with these portable Bluetooth speakers is how well they fare at loud volumes playing songs with a heavy low-end kick.
The BTV2 is capable of reaching fairly loud volumes, and it sounds relatively clear, but you should definitely temper your expectations with the caveat that this costs just $30.
That being said, I listened to this speaker for an extended period of time with a variety of genres including soul, jazz, hip hop, pop and classical, and the unit definitely relies on an artificially boosted treble section to give life to vocals and instrumentation.
As a result, I experienced a good amount of distortion when I maxed out the volume on both the speaker and my music player. However, it does work very well at the casual listening volumes I expect people to play in the home or outside at a picnic.
The AmazonBasics Ultra Portable BTV2 is a bare-bones Bluetooth speaker, and at $30 is an excellent value for anyone on a tight budget. On the other hand, those with a little extra cash should consider spending $10 more on the JBL Clip, which nets you better sound quality and more bass, as well as a built-in auxiliary cable, and a carabiner clip for easy everyday portability.