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Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle review: A top mini Bluetooth speaker value

While it doesn't have as much bass as its more expensive linemate and sounds a little thinner as a result, Cambridge SoundWorks' Oontz Angle still is one of the better values in mini Bluetooth speakers at $39.99.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

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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5 min read

I'm not sure how product managers come up with names for their products, but Oontz is one of the odder-sounding names I've come across in recent times. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing when you consider how hard it is to stand out in the hypercompetitive portable mini Bluetooth speaker market, where a lot of the products look and sound the same and offer similar features.

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7.6

Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle

The Good

The <b>Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz</b> sounds relatively good for a $40 mini Bluetooth speaker. It also offers good battery life, built-in speakerphone capabilities, and an attractive design. A carrying pouch is included.

The Bad

Some people won't like how bright the blue light is on the front of the unit; speaker has a Mini-USB port (for charging) instead of the now more common Micro-USB port.

The Bottom Line

While it doesn't have as much bass as the step-up Oontz and sounds a little thinner as a result, the Oontz Angle still is one of the better values in mini Bluetooth speakers at $39.99.

Like a lot of these little speakers, the Oontz Angle and its slightly larger brother, the Oontz, play bigger than their small size would indicate. But what helps set the Oontz speakers apart is that they're attractively designed, have built-in speakerphone capabilities and good battery life (more than 10 hours), and deliver sound that's comparable to what you get from more expensive speakers of the same ilk. That makes them great values at their current prices of $39.99 and $49.99 respectively.

Design and features
The Oontz Angle comes in many color options and is 5.3 inches wide, 2.7 inches high, and 3 inches deep. It weighs 9 ounces, which makes it a lightweight unit. The Oontz Angle's design has a bit more panache, or at least I liked it better, but the slightly larger Oontz can deliver more bass, which is important.

The Oontz Angle comes in several different color options.

Both products have a custom generic look and feel to them. Yes, that's contradictory, but what I mean by that is they have some inexpensive underpinnings (inexpensive is a polite way of saying "cheap") and yet they manage to rise above those underpinnings with a nice, soft-to-touch finish, sturdy speaker grilles, and clean lines.

But I did have a few gripes. For starters, I didn't like that both products have a Mini-USB port for charging the unit instead of the Micro-USB port that's now found on most non-Apple smartphones and tablets (a cable is included but not a power adapter). And overall, the product just doesn't have the swankier look and feel of such products as the JBL Flip and Jawbone Jambox, both of which cost more. Another downside for some people will be the blue light on the front of the speaker. Alas, it can't be dimmed or turned off completely, and some people may find it a little bright; I didn't think it was such a big deal but another CNET editor really didn't like it.

Rear view of the speaker. Sarah Tew/CNET

While most people will control their music through their mobile devices, the Oontz Angle does have volume control buttons on the back near the top of the unit. The $50 Oontz has a few more controls: for example, you can skip tracks forward and back as well pause and play music. But both models have call answer/end buttons for the speakerphone as well as an on/off switch. There's also an auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices (it's easier to connect to that "source" on the Oontz Angle).

As noted, both units have speakerphone capabilities. The feature works well enough, but it helps to be sitting or standing close to the speaker while you're talking so callers can hear you more clearly.

Along with the USB cord, you get a carrying pouch and 3.5mm audio cable for connecting non-Bluetooth devices.

The geometric grille has some similarities to the Jambox's grille.

Performance
With these types of Bluetooth mini speakers, good sound is a relative term. Overall, they just don't sound great, they offer virtually no stereo separation, and they have their limitations as far as clarity and bass performance go. All that said, relatively speaking, the Oontz Angle sounds decent for its modest price point and size. It plays fairly loud, with a reasonable amount of detail and some bass, though not quite enough to keep it from sounding a little thin. Like most speakers of this type, it's strongest in the midrange, so it will sound best with lighter fare (less bass-heavy music) and acoustical tracks.

A simple carrying pouch is included. Sarah Tew/CNET

It doesn't sound quite as good as the $99.99 UE Mobile Boombox, though it's less than half the price (UE Mobile Boombox is a sturdier unit with a slicker look; it also plays a little louder). In terms of sound, the Oontz Angle is right there with the $49.99 Philips SoundShooter, one of our favorite tiny speakers. However, it doesn't sound as good or play as loud as the $99 JBL Flip, though the Oontz Angle does offer better battery life. I also think it sounds a touch better than the $49.99 HMDX Jam Plus, though you can pair two of those HMDX speakers to get stereo sound; however, the Oontz Angle's battery life is significantly better.

Compared with the higher-priced Oontz, the Oontz Angle doesn't offer as much bass and just sounds a little thinner overall. It's not a huge difference, but it is noticeable. In some ways that's a shame because I like the design of the Oontz Angle a bit better (perhaps Cambridge will do a slightly bigger version of the Angle in the future).

The speaker with its slightly bigger sibling, the Oontz (left). Sarah Tew/CNET

It is worth noting that you will get some distortion with this speaker (and the larger Oontz) at higher volumes, and while the speaker does have rubber feet, it may move around a bit on smooth surfaces if you play tunes with heavier bass lines at high volumes.

As noted, battery life is good. I exceeded the 10 hours of rated battery life in my tests, though I played my music at more moderate levels.

The included cables -- but no AC adapter. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
For a while Cambridge SoundWorks was selling the Oontz Angle for $49.99, but it recently shaved the price by $10, lowering it to $39.99. While it doesn't have as much bass as the $49.99 Oontz and sounds a little thinner as a result, the Angle still is one of the better values in Bluetooth speakers at $39.99 -- and I liked its design better than the Oontz's.

While I have a few gripes (Mini-USB port, bright blue light on front), overall I think most people will be happy with the Angle's performance and features at this modest price level. If you value sound quality over design, it's probably worth paying the extra $10 to get the step-up Oontz instead of this model. But if you prefer the Angle's design, save the $10.

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7.6

Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 6Value 9