Kicking off our portable speaker feature for the holidays is the Scosche boomBOTTLE. We’re sure the majority of our readers have a smartphone or Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player, and enjoy a little music while hiking, biking, camping, or just kicking back indoors or out. With that in mind, we sought out a variety of speakers for review and evaluation. We chose not to rank them against each other, since prices, features, and performance varied widely. You’ll find a quick breakdown at the end of each review to help you compare them though.
Scosche is a company known for quality audio devices and electronics. Their boomBOTTLE reflects experience with both. Housed inside the 8.125 inch tall enclosure is a lithium polymer battery, Bluetooth receiver and audio controller, as well as a pair of 40mm speakers plus a passive subwoofer. With a diameter of 2.85 inches, it fit in most drink holders, as well as bicycle water bottle cages. An IPX4 rating allows you to keep the music going, even around water – a little splashing won’t harm it. Extremely durable grill covers protect the speakers, and the whole thing is wrapped in a tough rubber housing. It’s built for fun, and made to last.
One of the first things we noticed was the unique placement of the speakers. There is one on each end, pointing outward, but into a cone that disperses the sound in a circular pattern. This gives it the omni-directional sound missing in competing products. With the boomBOTTLE standing on end, the volume and sound quality never changes as you walk around it. This makes it a great choice when you’re sharing your music with a small group of friends. It also helps when using it on your bicycle, but it really could benefit from a handlebar mount, as wind and ambient noise conspire to ruin the experience as both increase. Otherwise, the sound quality is excellent for such small 3 watt speakers. We tested it with a variety of music, from Metallica to Katy Perry, and even some Beethoven. It does an admirable job of trying to reproduce the bass notes, but for a speaker this size even the passive subwoofer can only do so much. Highs and mids were clear and bright, given the packaging constraints.
Pairing the boomBOTTLE with an Android phone as well as an iPod was simple. Once connected, you can control volume and playback from either your device or the speaker. A nice touch that we briefly tested but don’t expect to use is the phone option – it can act as a wireless Bluetooth speaker for your phone, and has a built-in mic too. For those old schoolers, the 3.5mm plug allows you to use it with devices that don’t offer a wireless option. Charging is via the included USB micro cable, and run time is up to ten hours on a full charge, which should be sufficient for most bike rides or weekend camping trips. Of the devices we tested, the boomBOTTLE was considered as having the best overall sound quality, as well as being one of the loudest. Its ease of use and attractive design (available in five colors) made it one of the more popular speakers for outdoor use. Find it at scosche.com.
MSRP: $139.99 | Run time: 10 hours | Sound quality/quantity: excellent | Build quality: excellent
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received the Scosche boomBOTTLE for free from Scosche, in consideration for review publication