Search Google for the term 'mobile speaker' and more than three million results will be returned. There are few more competitive sectors and, for the potential buyer, few more chaotic. Almost every manufacturer has had a go by now offering a plethora of products in different sizes, form factors and price points. Bose is late on the scene, but – being Bose – has added yet another new twist on the sector…
The 'SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker' was announced earlier this month to a great deal of fanfare. The SoundDock Portable has been the company's long serving iPhone dock for those who like their music on the move, but the SoundLink is significantly smaller, lighter and cheaper. For those lusting after a Bose system it presents a new low entry point.
How much smaller, lighter and cheaper? The SoundLink measures 244 x 130 x 48mm and weighs 1.3Kg verses the SoundDock's 307 x 175 x 103mm and 2.37Kg. It is also £90 less expensive. It's a positive start and seems to fill a hole in Bose's product range. So what do you get? Bose is typically hush hush about the technology inside the SoundLink giving no performance specs whatsoever. To quote the company:
"It combines four low-profile neodymium transducers for clear high- and mid-frequencies, with new dual-opposing passive radiators - designed with a patented waffle-shaped surround - for rich, deep, low notes. With the radiators placed in an opposing fashion, vibration is eliminated, turning the energy into acoustic power. The speaker's audio package is complemented with sophisticated electronics, including Bose digital signal processing algorithms, to reproduce instrument definition and detail at any volume."
That's your lot.
Less ambiguous are the SoundLink's other attributes. It uses Bluetooth and A2DP to pair to devices, holds up to six devices in memory, but only connects to one at a time. Bose quotes a pairing distance of up to 10 metres, a battery life reaching eight hours with a three hour charge time and the obligatory 3.5mm auxiliary jack to connect to any device lacking Bluetooth.
Styling is retro and angular with Bose's distinct silver grill and build quality is typically excellent. The large controls (power, auxiliary source, Bluetooth source [hold to pair], mute and volume up and down) eschew the trend for touch sensitive buttons and feel substantial and durable when pressed. A built in cover automatically switches off the SoundLink when closed and folds underneath creating a stable base when open. The standard version of the SoundLink has a nylon cover, a 'premium' edition upgrades this to leather for £40 more - bringing the price to a hefty £299. Our review unit was the leather edition, which does add a luxury feel, but your bank balance and feelings about animal products will determine whether you have the slightest interest in this.
More to the point, your interest will be far more reliant on how the SoundLink performs and that is far from straightforward…