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

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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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