The best portable speaker
Portable speakers let you listen to your favorite music wherever you go. They're great for use in the garden, at outdoor gatherings with friends, or anywhere in the home that you don't have a stereo system set up.
This guide aims to teach you more about portable speakers so you can easily find the right one for you. Our favorite portable speaker on the market right now is the Ultimate Ears BOOM 2. It's extremely light and compact but packs an impressive punch and offers a wide range of useful features.
Considerations when choosing portable speakers
The majority of portable speakers on the market today have integrated rechargeable batteries, though you can still find some basic models that take single-use batteries, such as AA or AAA types. Rechargeable batteries will save you money over time, because the cost of charging them is negligible compared to the price of new batteries.
Before Bluetooth technology was widespread, portable speakers connected to your phone using an aux cable, but the vast majority of contemporary options use Bluetooth instead. Although it's simpler to use Bluetooth and means you don't need to carry a cable with you, it can be unreliable on occasions. Some portable speakers give you the option of using an aux cable or Bluetooth, so you have another choice if your Bluetooth connection is being temperamental.
There's not much point in buying a portable speaker if the sound quality is so poor that it would sound better coming directly from your phone speaker. You want a speaker that gives you rich, deep lows and bright, punchy mids and highs. While you will find some exceptions, you generally get better sound quality the more you pay.
You're buying a portable speaker, so naturally you want it to be easily portable. Consider the size and weight of any models you're considering to be sure that they're lightweight and compact enough to carry with you.
Voice control: Some portable speakers have voice control, so you can change the volume or skip tracks hands-free. This is sometimes integrated into the speaker, but usually speakers with voice control are linked to your device's assistant, such as Siri or Google Now.
Volume control: If you don't have voice controls, you usually get the option of changing the volume either from your music player or on the body of the speaker.
WiFi connectivity: You'll find portable speakers that can connect to your home WiFi system, in addition to Bluetooth. This can help boost range but is only useful when at home.
Portable speaker prices
Portable speakers range in price from around $10 to $20 for basic models, all the way up to $150 to $200 for the most high-end options.
Q. What's the battery life of a portable speaker?
A. The battery life of a portable speaker can vary widely depending on the model you choose. We've seen some models with around four hours of runtime, whereas others can play music for up to 24 hours between charges.
Q. What does the term "range" mean in regard to portable speakers?
A. The term "range" refers to the Bluetooth range between the speaker and your smartphone or other device. This is the maximum distance at which you'll be able to connect your device to your speaker to play music. Portable speaker ranges can be anywhere from 30 feet to over 100 feet. Some users might not need a particularly large range at all, as they're always likely to be close to their speakers, whereas others prefer having the freedom to roam without their music cutting out.
Portable speakers we recommend
Best of the best: Ultimate Ears BOOM 2
Our take: Emitting 360-degree sound with deep bass, this surprisingly loud speaker is an excellent choice, whatever music you like to listen to.
What we like: Rugged and waterproof so you can take it anywhere. Compatible with Siri + and Google Now for hands-free operation. Excellent sound quality. Has 15-hour battery life.
What we dislike: Some buyers report issues with Bluetooth connectivity,
Best bang for your buck: Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth Speaker
Our take: Yes, you can find cheaper options, but considering the quality you get for your money, this speaker provides astounding value.
What we like: Stunning crisp, clear sound with little to no distortion, even at high volumes. Easy to control hands-free or using buttons on the unit. Extremely small and light.
What we dislike: Battery life could be better.
Choice 3: Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker
Our take: This affordable choice won't give you the sound quality of more expensive options, but it's great for occasional use or anyone on a budget.
What we like: Exceptional battery life -- runs for 24 hours between charges. Sturdy drop-proof build. Uses Bluetooth 4.0 with a range of 66 feet, which is enough for most users
What we dislike: Not waterproof.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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