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Sony SRS-BTM30 Bluetooth Speakers
Nobody likes being subjected to other people's music on a hot summer's day when they're out trying to enjoy a picnic. Whether it's youths with music 'blaring' from the tinny speakers on their mobile phones, crusties playing the acoustic guitar and bongos, or students with portable stereos, there's nothing worse than having your peace and quiet disturbed.
The only way to fight back is to take your own tunes and drown everyone else's out. One way to do that is to take a set of speakers out with you and hook them up to an MP3 player. And if they're a Bluetooth speaker set; that's even better for your picnic - no wires means you don't have to leave your MP3 player lying around tethered to the speakers, and there's also less likelihood of your drink-sodden mates trampling it into the ground or tripping over the cable.
It's an area of the portable music industry that's been slowly and steadily growing in recent times, and with many mobile phones now equipped with AD2P-enabled Bluetooth, that looks set to continue. Sony is the latest manufacturer looking to get in on the act, with its SRS-BTM30 speakers joining the likes of Gear4's Blackbox and Blackbox Mini speakers and Parrot's Party system.
In the looks stakes, these speakers make a good first impression. Shaped like a small pair of bongos, the SRS-BTM30's are designed to be stood on their side for on-the-shelf use, or on end for placement on the floor, firing upwards. They draw their power from either the mains or three alkaline or rechargeable AA batteries; and though your mileage away from the mains will vary, Sony's quoted 10 hours should see you through a couple of long, lazy summer afternoons at least.
There are other sensible design touches, too. Each of the SRS-BTM30's drivers is covered by a thick, metal grille, protecting it from general abuse, and the speakers are pretty light, too, so you'll be able to sling them in a bag without too much shoulder strain. The only thing that counts against them in terms of physical design is their bulk. That bongo-style profile means they're not as slim and baggable as the BlackBox Mini or even the BlackBox, and both of those speakers come with their own case for protection; the SRS-BTM30's do not.
Another thing that the SRS-BTM30's don't do well at is ease-of-use. Now when Bluetooth connectivity is the main selling point of a device you'd think the manufacturer would bend over backwards to make it easy to set up and use, but no, not Sony. One test I always run on Bluetooth speakers when I first get them out of the box is to try to pair them with a mobile phone without referring to the manual. And with the SRS-BTM30's, I was still there ten minutes later, trying to figure out what to do.