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BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker review: Distinctive design with weak sound

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The Good The BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker is small and easy to carry, and has a unique clippable design.

The Bad The speaker is expensive and its sound lacks bass, richness, and clarity.

The Bottom Line The BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker has an interesting clippable shape, but at a price of $99.99, other portable audio devices are a better deal.

5.0 Overall

The BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker doesn't look like your average Bluetooth wireless speaker. Crafted in the shape of a U, this tiny Bluetooth smartphone accessory can be pinned to shirts, bag straps, and other articles of clothing so you can enjoy phone audio out loud and with your hands free. The gadget also functions as a speakerphone for hands-free calls. At $99.99, however, the speaker isn't exactly an impulse buy. Also, other portable speaker systems such as JBL's Flip deliver much better sound for the same price.

Design and features
I can't deny that this gadget has a pretty unconventional design. Unlike typical Bluetooth speakers, which tend to be boring rectangular boxes or drab cylinders, the BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker is shaped like a clip.

BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker
The BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker can be fitted to bag straps and other clothing. Sarah Tew/CNET

The idea is to use the speaker's U-shaped body to slide it onto bag straps, shirt collars, or other items of clothing. Once it's attached, you can easily listen to music and other audio in stereo while on the move, or conduct hands-free calls since the device also doubles as a speakerphone.

You charge the speaker's rechargeable battery via a Micro-USB port, and the gadget has a line-in 3.5mm audio jack to connect non-Bluetooth devices. The only physical controls are a power switch, volume buttons, and a Play/Pause/call key.

A Micro-USB port for charging and a 3.5mm line-in jack. Sarah Tew/CNET

Weighing just 3.5 ounces, and tiny enough to fit in the palm of the hand, the BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker is highly portable. At its compact size it's effortless to carry, whether stowed in a bag, clipped to a strap, or even stuffed into a large pocket.

Setting up the BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker is a simple process. I just flipped on the power switch and made sure my BlackBerry Z10 test unit's Bluetooth radio was activated and in discoverable mode. After scanning for the speaker in the phone's list of nearby Bluetooth devices, I paired and connected the two gadgets in seconds.

Unfortunately, the tradeoff of the BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker's tiny stature is that it lacks the audio muscle of bigger wireless speakers. With small drivers and a minuscule chassis, the Mini Stereo doesn't have the space to develop much richness or depth of sound. As a result, music played through the device was tinny, muddy, and flat. Volume did get fairly loud, but there was no bass to speak of, a shortcoming I especially noticed listening to dance, electronic, and rap tracks.

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