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Philips Shoqbox Mini review: This compact Bluetooth speaker makes a big splash

The Philips Shoqbox Mini is a lightweight, splash-proof Bluetooth speaker that achieves big sound from a small package.

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Justin Yu
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Justin Yu

Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals

Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.

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4 min read

The Philips Shoqbox Mini is a small, water-resistant Bluetooth speaker that reinforces the company's commitment to high quality portable audio products, as we've seen in the past with the older Philips Shoqbox SB700 and the Philips Dot .

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7.6

Philips Shoqbox Mini

The Good

Durable and splash-proof, the Philips Shoqbox Mini has an anti-clipping feature that can reach loud volumes without distortion. It's compact, easy to use, and has a built-in microphone for making conference calls as a speakerphone.

The Bad

Battery life isn't great at 5 hours and the speaker isn't as waterproof as its marketing claims.

The Bottom Line

The Philips Shoqbox Mini Bluetooth speaker earns high marks for its rugged design, dual-firing driver, and an impressive ability to reach loud volumes without distortion.

Unlike those products, however, the $60 (£40) Shoqbox Mini is rated to the IPX6 waterproofing standard that protects it from light splashes and rain. There's a loop on its base for a lanyard or dongle and it also happens to float, making it ideal for music fans looking to add a soundtrack to a pool party or even in the bathroom.

For such a small device, it reaches impressively loud volumes with relative clarity (Bluetooth limitations notwithstanding) thanks to an internal limiter circuit that prevents the sound from distorting. You probably won't use it to power your next house party, but as a personal speaker it deserves our recommendation.

Philips Shoqbox Mini

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Design

A few people in the office commented that the Shoqbox Mini bears resemblance to a hand grenade, but I'm not sure an explosive device would be my first comparison. I can see where they're coming from, though -- its compact form and oval design with a knurled speaker grille fits easily into your hand.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The speaker weighs just 7 ounces (200 grams) and measures 4.2 by 2.3 by 2.7 inches (107x58x69mm). The build materials feel very capable of surviving the elements (more on that later), and a set of rubber feet on the bottom show that it's designed to sit horizontally with a rubberized set of media controls on one side (including separate power and volume) and a water-resistant gasket on the other that opens to reveal a Micro-USB and a 3.5mm auxiliary port underneath.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A 1.6-inch dual-firing driver lives inside that can pull up to 2.8 watts of power out of the speaker, and you have two options for connecting it to a source. You can either plug a hard wired 3.5-inch cable into the auxiliary port or you can pair it wirelessly via Bluetooth by simply holding down the pair button and selecting the Shoqbox Mini on your music player. It also has a microphone built into the unit so you can use it for conference calls.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The only critique worth mentioning here is that the speaker doesn't have an integrated auxiliary cable. Other speakers like the JBL clip make it easy for non-Bluetooth devices to play music with this feature, but it seems the trade-off here is that you get extra durability with IPX certification instead.

The Shoqbox Mini is rated at the IPX6 ruggedness standards, which means it's not completely waterproof, though it can certainly survive drips of water, rain or some sprinkles of shower water if you want to add a soundtrack to your bathroom routine.

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Philips

The Philips product page brags that the Shoqbox Mini can float and shows someone lounging in a pool with the speaker next to them, but be very careful if you try the same -- IPX6 certification doesn't guarantee protection against liquid submersion so the speaker is toast if it goes underwater.

We tried testing its buoyancy in our office by filling a large container of water and placing the speaker on top. Indeed, the speaker did float, but audio quality took a serious hit even after we dried it off. Without an upgrade to IPX7, we recommend you stick to using it on dry land.

Performance

The Shoqbox Mini can play at considerably loud volume levels without distortion thanks to internal limiter circuit that monitors your music and keeps the signal within the range of the amplifier. Of course, this workaround means you won't hear super detailed nuances in your music, but that's a moot point if you're connecting over Bluetooth anyway.

Perhaps the most underrated feature of the Mini is its dual-firing driver that effectively amplifies your tunes throughout an enclosed environment -- the audible range increases dramatically when it pumps out of both directions, and you can really tell the difference in loudness compared to mono-directional speakers like the JBL Clip.

As always with Bluetooth, you should expect some signal degradation when it compresses your music to send it wirelessly between your phone and the speaker, but overall I'm very impressed with the Shoqbox Mini's bass response -- even without a woofer built-in, it strikes a clear balance between treble and bass without emphasizing too much of either.

It handled everything from soul to jazz to hip-hop with great clarity at high volume, although the Logitech X100 played slightly louder with an artificial treble boost helping out along the way.

The Sol Republic Punk is $10 more but you get louder volume, slightly better bass, and a longer battery life rated at 8 hours of continuous play compared to the Shoqbox Mini's 5 hours. It's an ancillary benefit, but the Punk also has both input and output jacks so you can connect it to a stereo or home theater to use it as a Bluetooth adapter.

You might be able to score a Punk at the $50 price point we've seen online, but you definitely won't be disappointed if you pick up the Shoqbox Mini at retail.

Conclusion

It's easy to get lost in all the Bluetooth speakers available, especially when there's really no clear winner if you're strictly basing your decision on sound quality alone.

Bluetooth audio sacrifices aside, this is a great sounding compact speaker with a rugged-yet-executive quality that doesn't come around very often in this category. If you're into the design and can resist the urge to throw it into the pool, you'll be very satisfied with the Shoqbox Mini.

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7.6

Philips Shoqbox Mini

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Sound 8Value 7
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