With so many portable Bluetooth speakers on the market, we sometimes end up being tardy reviewing certain products that we should have reviewed sooner.
Such is the case for TDK Life on Record's A33 Wireless Weatherproof speaker, which has been on the market for a while and received mostly favorable reviews from consumers. It's pretty easy to see why. The A33 is sturdily built, delivers strong sound for its size, and most importantly, can be had online for just less than $150 -- or about $100 off its list price of $249.99.
It's not without a few small shortcomings, but in all it's one of the better values in the portable Bluetooth speaker arena.
Design and features
The first thing you notice about the A33 when you take it out of the box is that it's got some heft to it. It weighs in at 2.8 pounds and measures 3.7 inches high by 2 inches wide by 9.5 inches deep, which takes it more of a mid-sized wireless speaker than a true mini Bluetooth speaker. If you're looking for something superportable this isn't it, but the extra size -- at least in this case -- means better sound.
While it has a pretty straightforward, boxy design, I liked the look of the speaker. It's got clean lines and the buttons on the top of the unit are nicely indented and clearly labeled with LED lighting.
There are volume controls on the unit but no pause/play button or transport controls (skip track forward/back), so you'll have to control playback through your smartphone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled device. Some people don't mind the lack of transport controls, but others like having at least a pause/play button.
The A33 has two 1.5-inch drivers plus a 2.5-inch subwoofer on front and two rear 3-inch passive radiators. It's splashproof (not waterproof) and its ports are covered by a removable rubber door that keeps moisture and dust out.
Behind that rubber cover you'll find an audio input for non-Bluetooth devices, a USB charging port (for charging your smartphone from the speaker's internal battery), power on/off switch, and a 12V DC charging port. Alas, like some of these more powerful compact speakers, you have to charge the unit with a separate AC adapter and not with a standard USB cable. That's fine except it can be easy to misplace a generic AC adapter and, if you lose it, you won't be able to charge the speaker.
There's built-in speakerphone capabilities (the speakerphone worked well) and the unit has rubberized feet on the bottom to help keep it from moving around when the vibration kicks up when you play louder music. On the bottom you'll also find a little kickstand that allows you to prop the speaker up at a slight angle and fire upward a bit. The speaker doesn't ship with a carry case or cover.