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The Essential Portable Speaker Buyer’s Guide

deciding which is the best portable speaker for you

Earlier this week, I posted a thorough guide to wireless portable speakers covering everything from mechanics, materials, and electronics.  Today we are going to go into greater depth on looking at specific features of portable speakers to determine which is the best for you.

list of things to look out for to pick the best portable speaker for you

Be sure to check off this list when you’re selecting your portable speaker.  There are a lot to choose from, so these questions will help make sure you have the model and style that best suits you.

  1. What type of driver does this speaker have?  What is the wattage?  Did you give it a good listen or has it received strong reviews?
  2. What is the power source?  Does it come with rechargeable batteries or will you have to plunk in additional heavy alkaline batteries?
  3. What is the run time?
  4. Does the portable speaker have a manufacturer’s warranty?  If so, what are the terms?
  5. Does the portable speaker fit your general application and use case?  How portable is it?  How durable is it?
  6. Does the portable speaker offer wired or wireless connectivity? Will it work with your device/music source?
  7. Is the speaker weather rated or waterproofed?

getting a wired or wireless portable speaker


If you own a smartphone, there is very little reason to buy a wired portable speaker.  The cost of Bluetooth speakers has come down significantly in the last couple years and smartphone adoption has increased 28% annually.  Wired portable speakers come at less cost, but the added flexibility gained is well worth the extra price tag.  When you think about the user experience, it is really nice to have your smartphone untethered from your speaker.  If you are really “low-tech,” then a wired speaker is fine, but I would advise taking the time to learn how to use Bluetooth.  High quality Bluetooth speakers range from $50-150.  There are a number of cheaper models on the market, but beware of units that have poor components as they are likely to fail or have poor sound quality.  Wired portable speakers should cost no more than $50.

how to use a bluetooth speaker

Every Bluetooth portable speaker has a pairing mode that sends out a request to “handshake” with the audio source.  Once this handshake has finished, the mobile device can send media to the speaker wirelessly.  The pairing process is relatively simple.  It may vary from one device to another but as a general order of operations:

  1. Turn the Bluetooth Portable Speaker On and turn into pairing mode.  On the Boombot REX, simply turn on the switch.  On the Boombot2, press the center button twice till the LED blinks blue.  Your portable speaker will now look for a media device to pair with.
  2. On your smartphone/mobile device, go to SETTINGS.  On most Android phones, go to WIRELESS SETTINGS.  On iOS (iPhone), go to to BLUETOOTH.  Make sure Bluetooth is turned ON.
  3. Find the device that you want to pair with.  Typically manufacturers will have the model name pop up (i.e. Boombot2 or Boombot REX).  Select that device and engage in the “handshake” process.
  4. Once connected, the smartphone should show “connected” or “connected to media audio”.  Once you see this, you should be able to play music through your Bluetooth speaker.

This pairing process typically only has to be done the first time that you pair your device.  The subsequent times you turn on your portable speaker, your phone should automatically pair for seamless operation.  As you can see, using a wireless Bluetooth speaker is incredibly easy, so if you’re a tech phobic, then you should just take a moment to come to the future.  Really.

additional PORTABLE speaker features

Some wireless portable speakers feature a microphone for interfacing with phones.  This feature is extremely useful for conference calls, Skype, and other VoIP services.  Some models incorporate track and playback control.  The Boombot REX is one of the first speakers featuring built-in voice control/Siri integration.  Several more sophisticated Bluetooth Speakers are incorporating NFC to initiate pairing operations including the Monster Beats Pill.

When purchasing a portable speaker, be sure to think about your use cases.  If you need something really ruggedized for camping, beach, or generally more abusive activities, look at designs like the Philips ShoqBox, OT Turtleshell or Boombot REX.  If you want something for at-home use, the Bose Soundlink sounds amazing, but it is the most expensive.  And also the bulkiest.  The Big Jambox sounds better than the Bose, but the design is generally kind of fragile.  It is well built, but because every side has mesh, it can easily get scratched or dented.

The Boombot REX, OT Turtle Shell, and Boom Movement Urchin are one of the few designs that are technically wearable.  The size of the Turtle Shell and the Urchin models is about is 30-40% greater than the Boombot REX.  Let’s have a look at the three models in greater detail.  You’ll notice that both the Sea Urchin and the Turtle Shell are about the same size.  Generally speaking, they can be fastened to a garment, but their size and weight can be a bit restrictive.  The Boombot REX is capable of producing more sound out of a smaller and much more portable package WHILE being the lowest cost as well:

Boombot REX $119.99

OT Turtle Shell $139.99

Boom Movement Urchin $149.99

list of portable speaker manufacturers

There are literally thousands of portable speaker manufacturers to choose from.  Just to give you a quick list of some of the key portable speaker manufacturers in no particular order:

Boombotix: That’s us.  We are the little garage startup to save the day.
Boom Movement: These guys are owned by the same holding company that does Polk Audio.
Jawbone: Manufacturer of the #1 Selling Bluetooth Speaker (Jambox) and headset maker
Scosche: Multi-national company that makes a silly amount of products including their BoomBottle
Bose: Really high end audio manufacturer with branding suitable for every cubicle
JBL: These guys have been in the game a long time.  They make good stuff.
Logitech: Software company gone mouse maker to hardware giant.
Samsung: The beast of the East.  These guys have their fingers in EVERYTHING
Nokia: Known for their phones, Nokia is like a little Samsung.
Philips: You may have seen their light bulbs, but their product depth runs DEEP.
Outdoor Technologies: Maker’s of the OT Turtle Shell 
iHome: Makers of the most popular clock radio.  They sell tons of speakers to hotel chains.
Zooka: They make a cool iPad speaker that clamps to the top of the tablet
Panasonic: Electronics giant, 2nd largest headphone manufacturer.  Based in Japan.
Beats: Owner of 65% of the premium headphone market share and now maker’s of The Pill

There are many more out there.  I would encourage you to take the time to understand the differences of all the different speakers on the market.  If you’re spending MORE than $200, you are probably spending too much.  Check out some of our portable speaker comparisons.

We hope you found this article to be helpful in picking the best portable speaker for your application.  If you would like to try out a Boombot Portable Speaker, feel free to use this discount code in the Boombotix Store$w33t$peaker





One comment on “The Essential Portable Speaker Buyer’s Guide

  1. Thanks for sharing such a valuable information on Bluetooth speaker. I only heard about Panasonic and bose that they are manufacturing such speaker.

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