While music may be the last thing on your mind today, what with the Big Game, at some point you’ll want to get out and about and do something else with your summer so here’s Gary O’Donnell’s rundown of the portable speakers that you should take with you on your picnic, to a festival or just out in the garden.
When I did this review of Bluesound’s utterly brilliant speaker, I got a couple of emails from readers asking for more affordable portable options and so here is a rundown of a couple I’ve really liked and would recommend (and one that Tania insisted I put in).
Three in one
BrightSounds 2 by Lava does a number of extremely useful things. You can use it as a Powerbank if you’re mid-festival and your phone dies a death. There’s an ambient dimmer controlled LED light for when the night finally draws in at 11pm and, most importantly, it packs a massive audio punch for its price. A whopping 36 hour run time, a water resistant design and, handsome to boot, it’s my pick for when money’s tight but you still want a good degree of noise. We gave this a trial run at a family BBQ and discovered that not only is it powerful enough to match Punjabi family debate, its single 5W speaker is positioned in such a way within its design that everyone gets a fair amount of audio rather than just the person sat in front of the speaker. This 360 degree sound element is one of the most impressive things about it.
The design is damn handsome with a leather strap for ease of carrying out into the garden and a robust toughened plastic that will withstand being knocked off its perch in whisky-related bumping of tables. (Can you tell we had incidents?) It comes in a range of colours, but we loved this heritage-y blue. Lava Brightsounds 2 costs £39.99 and is available from Amazon and from Lava Accessories.
Clip this and go
This one is great for students and festival-goers or anyone travelling light as it clips onto rucksacks and is a robust and compact design that can take a bit of tomfoolery. Again you get full 360 sound and 10 hours of continuous use. You can also use this as an emergency charger. It has two 4W speakers that work admirably and is connectable via Bluetooth, Mini Jack, NFC and even has an Micro SD card slot so you can use it stand alone without your phone.
It is currently on special offer; it’s good at its RRP, but really is a bargain at nearly half the price. If you’re doing a festival this year, make sure you pack this cool little buddy. It weighs half a kilo, which gives it a comforting solidity to its build but is also great for camping or hiking, if you’re one of those people who like emitting songs wherever you go and did your back in carrying a boombox with you throughout the 80s.
The Edifier MP280 is usually £79.99 but there is a special offer now right now making it £42.99 from Edifier.
Plant pot speaker
And finally, we weren’t sent a sample of this one so I have no idea what it actually outputs, but the missus went a bit wobbly at the knees for it and told me I had to include it because “it’s pretty”. She’s the ed so here it is. A plant pot that is also a bluetooth speaker. It has seven built-in songs (which terrifies me as what could they have got the rights for? I’m assuming it isn’t anything I’d want to hear, but maybe the plants will enjoy it!) and a range of 10 metres for the Bluetooth. Charge time is around four hours and play time is approximately 12 hours.
It also has seven multi-coloured LED lights that turn on when a petal or leaf on the plant is touched and song notes are then audible. This will probably be best to gift someone as it cheap, cheerful and a bit silly. The Thumbs Up Plant Pot Speaker costs £14.99 from IWOOT.