Bluetooth speaker and car jumpstarter makes for a unique tech mashup

It's one of those kegger-in-a-cornfield nights, so the partygoers blast tunes from their car stereos or crappy portable speakers. And when the keg goes dry, at least a couple of cars won't start, due to headlight overuse or just worn-out batteries.

Dreamwave's Survivor Bluetooth speaker seems tailor-made for this scenario, as it can also jumpstart a car, charge up a phone and even light up the night with its built-in LED.

The boombox-sized Survivor comes clad in tough-looking black plastic with green accents, almost camo-colored, and could probably handle being bounced around in the back of a pick-up truck. Certainly its 7.6-pound weight will let it crush any empty beer cans in the bed.

End-to-end

On unboxing it, I was baffled as to its controls and ports, until I noticed the four Playskool-sized rubber buttons on one end, imprinted with the universal symbols for power, volume up and down, and Bluetooth. Eschewing the manual for the moment and making a guess, I lifted the rubber cover at the other end and found a DC port for charging the Survivor, a USB port so it could charge a phone or other device, an auxiliary audio input and a specialized port for the included jump starter clamps.

After plugging in its AC adapter, I noticed the cleverly hidden indicator LEDs on top, which let me see the Survivor's charge status.

Dreamwave Survivor Bluetooth speaker and powerbank

The Survivor's built-in LED light can shine steady or be set to emergency blinking mode.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

The button icons pretty much explain themselves, although I did need to RTFM to figure out that a long push on the power button turned on the bright LED flashlight embedded in one end. Likewise, the manual explained that pushing the Bluetooth button while streaming from a paired phone paused the music.

The Survivor's 12,000 mAh battery can charge a Samsung Galaxy S7 four times over, or an iPhone 6S six times over. But the single USB port means only charging one device at a time, and its 1-amp output won't charge very fast. I also found the rubber cover over the ports a pain, as I had to hold it open while plugging in cables.

The capability of the Survivor's jump starter didn't surprise me at all, as Dreamwave's sibling company produces the PowerAll Element jumpstarter, a lithium-ion power bank I previously tested. The Survivor kicks out 400 amps from its jumpstarter port, enough to turn a V-8 engine. I used it to turn over a four-cylinder engine a couple of times, which didn't take much of a toll on its remaining charge.

Sound off

Owners will likely get more use out of the Survivor's audio capabilities. The big case holds four speakers powered by a 30-watt amp. I could stream music from my phone over Bluetooth or plug in directly through the Survivor's auxiliary audio port.

The Survivor's sound was robust, and held its fidelity even with the volume up high. The high and low frequencies were balanced across the ranges, but I felt that vocals in the mid-ranges weren't particularly stunning.

Dreamwave Survivor Bluetooth speaker and powerbank

You can charge your phone from Survivor, and also stream music over Bluetooth.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

One interesting quirk: the Survivor has independent volume control. With many Bluetooth speakers, pushing volume buttons actually changes the volume control on the paired phone. Here, I could crank the volume on my phone, then turn down the Survivor's own volume output.

Dreamwave's Survivor is a unique techie mashup, making it the only choice if you want a Bluetooth audio system that can also jumpstart a car or charge a phone. All of its functions work well, although a second USB port and higher amp charging would be welcome.

The Survivor works best for someone who wants a big, boombox-style Bluetooth speaker system, and has the occasional need for a car jumpstart or the device's flashlight.

At its list price of $280, however, it is an expensive proposition. Maybe its uniqueness justifies the price, but buying a separate Bluetooth speaker and portable jumpstarter could make more sense.

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