BlueAnt--whose name is a clever composite of Bluetooth and antenna--has been producing Bluetooth products in its homeland of Australia for three years, and in that relatively short time the company has become the largest supplier of Bluetooth accessories in Australia and New Zealand. At CES this year, BlueAnt began its expansion into the U.S. market with four products, including the BlueSonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers ($149.99). Going by the BlueAnt Wireless X3 micro headset alone, we can see why this company has been so successful overseas. The BlueSonic also appears to be a decent stab at a portable wireless speaker set, though performance issues hinder the fun.
We're hard-pressed to find anything not to like about the BlueSonic speakers' design. It's just lovely--everything from the small footprint (7.5 by 3.2 by 1.5 inches) to the tiny blue ant graphic above the control panel is appealing yet unassuming. The speakers come in a simple matte black finish with two grilles flanking the silver control panel where you'll find volume controls, call and play/pause buttons, and track shuttle keys. A minor gripe here is that the button to lower volume is a bit stiff. The backside of the BlueSonic houses the line-in and mic-in ports, a DC jack, and a power switch. This is also where you'll find our favorite design extra: a pair of surprisingly strong magnets that allow you to stick the speakers to your fridge, filing cabinet, or other suitable metal object (cool!). We are a little bummed that no travel case was included, though.
The BlueSonic speakers use the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) for Bluetooth transmissions, meaning they're capable of receiving dual-channel audio: sound in stereo. Of course, this is necessary if you're going to be listening to music--who wants to rock out in mono? If you have one of a handful of cell phones that is A2DP compliant, you can simply pair your handset with the BlueSonic speakers by following the normal steps under the Bluetooth settings on your phone. (Be aware that some devices have separate selections for mono and stereo Bluetooth; you'll want to turn on the stereo mode for these speakers.) Better yet, BlueAnt does not overlook the fact that cell phones are made for talking; the BlueSonic has a built-in mic, so it can function as a speakerphone as well.