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Sony SRS-XB01 review: Sony's cheap mini Bluetooth speaker is worth buying

The Sony SRS-XB01 retails for $35 and sometimes costs less. It's a well designed little wireless speaker.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

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Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.

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Typically Sony's entry-level mini Bluetooth speakers have started at $50. But the SRS-XB01 lists for $35 (£30, AU$50) and sometimes gets discounted to $25. That's pretty inexpensive.

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Sony SRS-XB01

The Good

The Sony SRS-XB01 is an attractively designed mini Bluetooth speaker that sounds decent for its size and is relatively inexpensive. It's shower-ready and has speakerphone capabilities.

The Bad

Some larger "mini" speakers in this price range deliver fuller sound with higher volume.

The Bottom Line

The Sony SRS-XB01 is a likable little speaker that's well designed and sounds decent enough for its budget price.

While it's lightweight at 5.4 ounces (154 grams), it manages to avoid feeling cheap. The speaker feels solid enough, with a textured finish and a set of rubberized buttons on top that allow you to play and pause your music, or answer and end calls, and adjust volume. A gasket hides the USB charging port and audio input.

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The Sony SRS-XB01 in white.

David Carnoy/CNET

I like its clean, simple design -- it's available in blue, red, black and white - and the fact that it's water resistant with an IPX5 rating. Battery life is rated at 6 hours, which is fairly standard for this type of Bluetooth speaker. 

The speaker contains a single driver -- yes, this is a mono speaker -- with a slit for a bass port in the back. While I can't say it sounds much better than a lot of tiny Bluetooth speakers, it does sound decent for its size. It plays just loud enough and has just enough bass to fill a small room, such as an office or dorm. Sony limited its volume to prevent it from distorting: That's a good thing.

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Attach the strap to whatever you want.

David Carnoy/CNET

Part of Sony's Extra Bass speaker line, the XB01 also has a built-in microphone for hands-free calling and includes a strap for attaching it to backpacks or hanging it from a tree branch, or anything else you choose to attach it to.

You're going to get more bass and bigger sound from a speaker like Bose's SoundLink Micro, which costs more. Tribit's XSound Go also delivers fuller sound with more volume for around $30 and the Oontz Angle 3 Plus also sounds better. But both those speakers are about twice the size of the Sony.

If you're looking for better sound, I advise you to lean to the Tribit or Oontz, but the Sony is a likable little speaker that seems well designed and sounds decent for the money.

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Sony SRS-XB01

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 7Sound 7Value 8