I hate mornings. I’m more of a night owl and much prefer to stay up late than get up early, so I’m never keen on having to stop my slumber. Even as a child on Christmas Day, I’d rather spend an extra couple of hours in bed than get up early and start unwrapping presents. Bah humbug, indeed.
In fact, I hate the whole morning routine. I just find the whole process quite tedious so if there’s any way I can somehow make it more interesting, I’m all for it. One method I’ve been attempting to use, with mixed results, is listening to podcasts. I’d use my iPhone’s speaker (which on the iPhone 5 is quite loud) but since I don’t want it anywhere near a source of water then it sits just outside the bathroom door on the dresser.
This is all well and good when I’m not actually in the bathroom but when the door is closed I only get to hear muffled conversations, as though I’m listening to the neighbours discussing the latest in Apple tech, broken by the occasional, unmistakable laugh of Jim Dalrymple.
That’s where the Divoom Bluetune Pop Bluetooth Speaker (£20-£25) comes in (for the remainder of this review, I’m calling it the Bluetune, no way am I writing all that repeatedly or bother to set up a TextExpander snippet). It’s cheap enough that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if the speaker craps out after a few months or if it accidentally finds its way into the bath. After reading the reviews over at Amazon, I decided to purchase it and give it a try.
I had previously looked at the Jawbone Jambox (£116) that a lot of people highly recommend but for something I’d only use in the mornings and when on holiday, it’s just way too expensive for what I need. I’d be terrified about taking a Jambox near any kind of water source. I worked on a Genius Bar, I’ve seen what happens to electronics that spend a lot of time in a room full of steam.
The Bluetune is less than a fifth of the cost of the Jambox, somewhat reminiscent of the old Apple “hockey puck” USB mouse, and is available in a variety of colours. I chose white simply because it wouldn’t stand out in the bathroom and, on the surface at least, looks quite good. It’s not garish, it doesn’t have logos emblazoned throughout and, truth be told, it wouldn’t look out of place in an Apple Store.
Its main feature is Bluetooth 3.0 and A2DP connectivity and has a micro USB port for charging as well as connecting a 3.5mm device to it (using the included cable) should you want to use it with something that doesn’t have Bluetooth.
In the box you’ll find the speaker, along with a USB charging/audio cable and small booklet guiding you through the setup process.
The power switch is located on the underside of the speaker which does feel really cheap and, although sturdy, gives the impression it’ll snap off at any moment. To the side of the switch is the power light that glows red to charge and flashes blue when it’s awaiting a connection, turning off once a connection is made. Three small feet with anti-slip pads attached keep the speaker in place and work surprisingly well.
Pushing down the speaker raises the speaker’s base (as well as increasing the volume and quality of the audio), revealing the USB port and gives it the appearance of a flying saucer that you’d see on the cover of a 50s sci-fi comic. Just like the power switch, the build quality isn’t exactly stellar when it comes to the base’s mechanism. There’s an odd feeling when pushing the stand in though as the spring feels quite stiff and it doesn’t always pop back up again, so you have to press it a few times to before it will work.
So the build quality isn’t fantastic but what does it sound like? In a word, phenomenal. I primarily use it for podcasts and am overjoyed at how good it sounds, with voices sounding rich and crisp. The sound will fill the room at 50% volume and you can push it all the way up to about 75% before there’s any noticeable distortion to audio. Just make sure you pop out the base of the speaker, the quality of the speaker when closed isn’t very good at all.
Music is handled really well and, depending on your taste, will be the best portable speaker you’ll ever own. Something like We’re In This Together – Nine Inch Nails sounds exceptional. Quieter music lacking any sort of bass, however, such as Welcome to Lunar Industries – Clint Mansell will sound very tinny with noticeable distortion, even at lower volumes.
The battery life is impressive, clocking in at just over 6 hours of usage before being completely depleted. It’s rated at 8 hours of battery life so it does miss the mark slightly but it can be run off any USB power source whilst it charges.
As portable speakers goes, this little hockey puck is fantastic and the volume and quality of the audio is genuinely comparable to the Jambox. It’s not going to stand up next to something like a B&W Zeppelin but why would it? It’s a portable speaker. It’s certainly streets ahead of the iPhone 5’s built-in speaker and is a heck of a lot more convenient to take travelling or use in the bathroom.
If you’re in the market for a portable wireless speaker and are looking to spend up to £120, I would be disheartened if you didn’t make this your first choice. Seriously, I don’t think an extra £100 is going to get you that much better a speaker so why not save that and get one of these little guys?