Cylindrical design, 360-degree omnidirectional sound.
If you've been monitoring the Bluetooth speaker space, you're probably aware that such descriptors are nothing new. Ultimate Ears led the 360-degree charge with its, and , and JBL's popular cylindrical and Series speakers are on their fourth generation. They all promise full-range sound without having to worry about placement.
Bose's two versions of the tubular portable, battery-powered Bluetooth speaker are the SoundLink Revolve ($199, £200 or AU$299) and its bigger brother, the Revolve Plus ($299, £280 or AU$439). They're expensive, but their design is excellent and they both sound great for small speakers. Between the two I like the Plus best, thanks to superior bass and an ability to play louder. It's probably the best-sounding speaker of its size I've ever heard -- or carried around by the handle.
Thanks to its integrated handle and "seamless" aluminum enclosure, the Revolve Plus reminds a lot of people of a lantern, and that seems like an intentional choice on Bose's part. Instead of light, this lantern gives off sound, and Bose touts its ability to play very loud for its size, and push out a lot of bass without distorting.
According to the company, the speaker combines "dual-opposing passive-radiators with a powerful ultra-efficient transducer -- positioned face-down -- and a new patented acoustic deflector." It's both water- and shock-resistant with a threaded tripod mount on the bottom of the speaker that allows you to attach it to a wall mount or a stand. Bose also sells a charging cradle for $30, which makes charging easier than using the included USB cable.
The Revolve Plus sounds as good or better than anything I've tested in its size class. Though broader at the base, at 7.25 inches (18.42 cm) tall it's a little shorter than the, which started out at $300 but can be had for less.
It plays a little bit louder than the Megaboom, has deeper bass, and just delivers a little bit richer sound overall. That doesn't mean the Megaboom is a big step down, especially if you're planning on using your speaker outside a lot. The fully waterproof Megaboom is very well-suited to outdoor use and also features better battery life at 20 hours (the Bose is rated for 16 hours of music playback at moderate volume levels). I still think the Megaboom is an excellent Bluetooth speaker, it just doesn't sound as good as the Bose.
The larger Revolve Plus plays louder and has better bass response than its little brother, the Revolve. It offers bigger, more refined sound than the SoundLink Mini II and also has better bass and clarity than the .
Both Revolve speakers play much bigger than their size would indicate, and although they do have their sound limitations, they can fill a small to medium room with sound. They'd work well in a dorm room, home office or bedroom.
While you'd think that 360-degree sound would mean they're best placed in the middle of a room, it actually helps to place these speakers near a wall to get some reflection, which improves the bass.