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Sony Ericsson MBS-100 Portable Bluetooth Speaker review: Sony Ericsson MBS-100 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

With a design destined to give the arachnophobic nightmares, the MBS-100 is a speaker with good audio clarity but a hefty price tag for the level of sound it produces.

Joseph Hanlon Special to CNET News
Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.
Joseph Hanlon
3 min read

Have you ever wondered which Bluetooth speaker system HR Giger, the genius behind the original Alien design, uses in his home? We hadn't either, but we think we've discovered the answer.


Sony Ericsson MBS-100 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The Good

Intriguing design. Lightweight and portable. Good audio clarity. 3.5mm audio input and Bluetooth.

The Bad

Soft playback level. Expensive.

The Bottom Line

With a design destined to give the arachnophobic nightmares, the MBS-100 is a speaker with good audio clarity but a hefty price tag for the level of sound it produces.

Arachnophobes and those afraid of wasps may want to stop reading now. The sharp and unique design of Sony Ericsson's MBS-100 Bluetooth speaker has reminded us of an insect hive since the moment we saw it in the box. Even now, as it sits beside us on the desk, we half expect giant bull ants to spew en masse from the numerous egg-shaped openings. Despite this, the MBS-100 has to be one of the most interestingly designed speaker systems on the market and would look great on a bedside table.

At roughly the same size and weight of a boules ball, the MBS-100 is extremely portable. So much so that the CNET editorial team enjoyed a brief game of catch with the MBS-100 while it played music streaming wirelessly from a mobile phone.

In total, the MBS-100 makes use of two inputs and two soft-keys, all located on the underside of the speaker. There's an unusually shaped power port that uses a charger very similar to a Sony Ericsson mobile phone plug, plus a 3.5mm auxiliary stereo input for plugging in an audio source, like an MP3 music player.

Features and Design
The selling feature here is A2DP stereo Bluetooth compatibility for streaming music from mobile phones and some MP3 players. We successfully paired the MBS-100 with a Nokia N95 8GB via Bluetooth and with the Creative X-Fi MP3 player via the 3.5mm audio input. With both players we experienced similar results, although we could hear very subtle static under the music when we were using Bluetooth.

Without volume controls on the speaker, all device controls belong to the original music player, another reason why Bluetooth pairing is preferable with the MBS-100. Overall, the audio playback was decent with a good representation of all frequencies including the bass, although like many speakers in this price range, the MBS-100 does favour the treble.

Our major complaint is that the speaker isn't very loud. We noticed a marked difference between the volume when listening through the Nokia and through the Creative player, and we could only control the volume when using the X-Fi. Even with the levels at full and with a Bass Booster EQ setting activated, the MBS-100 was still far from roof-raising. On the plus side, teenagers won't have their parents screaming at them to "turn that racket down" — they simply won't be able to hear it in the next room.

The MBS-100 Bluetooth speaker from Sony Ericsson may have a place in your musical life; perhaps it's on the desk where you study, or maybe its beside your bed helping you to sleep. However, the MBS-100 shouldn't be mistaken for a speaker that can play music at a party or even across a large room because while the clarity of the audio is good, the volume is soft. For the RRP of AU$108, we think the MBS-100 is a bit pricey for what you get.