This tiny $49 Bluetooth speaker might just blow you away.
Tiny Bluetooth speakers continue to proliferate and now come in all shapes and sizes. Philips' SoundShooter SBT30ORG/37, which is available in a few different color options, has a unique and appealing design: it looks a lot like a hand grenade.
The 4.2-ounce speaker is clad in a rubber covering that offers some protection should you drop the speaker. It appears that you can swap that covering out. However, Philips isn't selling separate covers, so the color you buy is the color you get.
The SoundShooter feels good in the hand -- it's like carrying a toy grenade with not much inside -- and its small size obviously makes it easy to move around or slip into a bag. Though no carrying case is included, you get a carabiner for clipping the speaker onto a backpack or perhaps even your belt loop.
To put the speaker in pairing mode, you simply turn it on using the switch near the bottom of the unit. It works with most Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets. That switch can also be set to "Aux," which allows you to connect a non-Bluetooth device with an included cable that doubles as a USB charger for the built-in rechargeable battery. If you happen to lose the cable, you can recharge the speaker with a standard Micro-USB cable, but you'll be without the audio-in cable.
As far as extra features go, the real bonus here is the built-in speakerphone capabilities. The SoundShooter Wireless isn't as good a speakerphone as the Jawbone Jambox, for instance, but it worked OK in our tests so long as I stayed pretty close to the speaker while talking. (Like all Bluetooth speakers, the SoundShooter can stream music from up to about 30 feet away.)
The SoundShooter Wireless sounds as good as or better than other tiny Bluetooth speakers in its price class. That's not to say it sounds great -- your music will come off a little thin and the speaker can't handle big bass well. But at least there is some bass and it definitely plays loud for its size.
Like the $60
I thought the JBL's sound was a touch smoother and cleaner than the Philips', but the Philips' sound had a little more kick to it. I had a number of people listen to it and when I told them the price ($50), many made the same remark: "That's not bad."
And the Philips SoundShooter isn't. Yeah, I'd like to see it at $39.99, but it's got an eye-catching design, delivers decent sound for its grenadelike size (it can fill a small room), and has a built-in rechargeable battery that gives you about 8 hours of sound so long as you don't crank the volume the whole time. And you wouldn't want to, because it doesn't sound as good at higher volumes and can distort with certain tracks.
If you can do without the wireless, Philips also makes the
Philips also makes the SoundShooter Wireless SBT50/00, which features a swanky aluminum exterior. I haven't tried that model -- it hasn't hit the market quite yet -- but I suspect it offers similar performance. All the SoundShooter Wireless models are worth considering, especially if you see them discounted slightly online.