Bluetooth speakers provide a more convenient way of streaming music wirelessly than DLNA and AirPlay systems, which rely on a network connection. Its peer-to-peer method forms a direct connection between speaker and device, although not everyone is a fan of its sound quality.
Whatever its pros and cons, Bluetooth is the technology of choice inside the XW-BTS3, which retails at a very attractive £90. It’s the high-end model in the range, a step-up from the smaller and less powerful XW-BTS1 (£70). An iPod dock (not found on the BTS1) and aux input provide further ways of enjoying your music.
Visually the XW-BTS3 is an absolute belter. It’s a compact black unit that stands 171mm tall, with fabric wrapped around the front and a gloss-black panel on top housing the 30-pin iPod dock and controls. There’s also a white version (XW-BTS3-W).
The discreet buttons and moody black styling exudes an appealing minimal feel, while the curved sides and aluminium strips finish the look off nicely. Pick it up and you’ll also appreciate its solid build quality, which isn’t always guaranteed at this sort of price. That solidity comes from the authentic wood enclosure hiding behind the fabric.
On the top panel, the dock sits in a recess, which makes it suitable for iPhones and iPods (Touch 4G, Nano 6G and Classic) but not iPads.
In front of the recess is a row of rectangular plastic buttons. They control power, Bluetooth pairing/play, mute and volume. Two tiny lights adorn the top indicating power and Bluetooth status. There’s no display, but a simple speaker like this doesn’t really need one.
On the back of the unit you’ll find a 3.5mm minijack input, for hooking up devices not blessed with Bluetooth, while a composite video cinch (RCA) output allows you to view videos from docked iDevices.
On the features side, power output is quoted at 30W, plus it supports the A2DP Bluetooth profile but sadly not apt-X or any other audio enhancement technology. The bass reflex speakers feature 3in full range drivers and cover a frequency range of 65 – 20,000Hz.