Portable Speakers Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

September 27, 2012

If there is one gadget I can't live without it's my wireless portable speakers. Whether I'm tuning in to a podcast in my hotel room, jamming in my apartment or shopping for a no-fail gift, access to good audio is key. Judging by the number of options that have hit the market in the last year, I'm not alone. Here is a list of my faves that have been on the market or are newly released.

The Power Player: Braven 625S, $179

Lots of power and bonus gadget charging distinguish these tough little speakers. Specs: Up to 16 hours of continuous wireless play and recharge, hands-free calling, micro USB, 24-inch, 3.5 millimeter cable included.

Best Bang for Your Buck: Beacon Phoenix, $99

Don't underestimate this little cube of joy. I want this one to succeed simply becauseit sits at a decent price point, given the Bluetooth option. Contrary to its size, this cube really pumps out sound, and makes for a universally loved gift. Specs: Lithium-ion rechargeable battery, micro USB and 3.5 millimeter input (and cables included). Plus, it's less than a pound, comes in three colors choices and, hey, 1,000-day warranty (just sayin').

The Best Seller: Jawbone Jambox, $199

This has been the best-selling wireless speaker for years, and it also happens to be my go-to speaker. What better guarantee could you ask for? It's great for small spaces and travel. Specs: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery for average 10 hours of continuous play. Micro USB and 3.5 millimeter input (and cables included), volume buttons and talk button, 12 ounces. Bonus: built-in microphone is great for conference calls. Now Jambox the Remix is available in customizable designs.

The Pack and Play: Jawbone Big Jambox, $299

With the big bro to Jambox, you can listen to music (and movies and games) louder and longer. Blast the box at home or take it out to the beach, barbecues or anywhere you go. You won't be disappointed. Specs: Up to 15 hours continuous play. Built-in microphone serves as giant speakerphone. The big bonus here are the advance buttons (to change the track) that the smaller Jambox does not have. You have to change the song via your device with the smaller Jambox. Micro USB, 3.5 millimeter input (and cables included), 2.7 pounds, choose from three designs.

The Fill Your Entire Room Option: Sonos Play: 3, $299

The sleek Play:3 is the smaller option in the Sonos lineup. The wireless audio heavy hitter is great for a small apartment, or if you're dealing with more space, connect multiple Play:3 units throughout a home. On an aesthetic note, the Play:3 has a sophisticated design. If you want something more rugged, skip ahead to the Big Jambox by Jawbone. Specs: Weighing in at 5.7 pounds, Play:3 is a heavier option. It can be used horizontally or vertically. Control via Android or iOS device.

The Practical Yet Artsy Speaker: DBEST Transformative, $250

If you enjoy shape-shifting abilities, check out the Transformative. Personally, I wasn't sure why I would need the transformative element but the I actually toyed with the shape a few times in taking it various places. For me, the biggest draw with the Transformative (aka the Bluetooth Hi-Fi System PS4007BT) is in comparison testing to the (smaller) Jambox, I think the Transformative had better audio quality. Sound tests aside, the feature menu is a bit dated and not as clean as Jambox. Specs: Up to 50 hours of continuous play, hands-free calling, 3.5 millimeter input, microSD slot allows for stand-alone unit, 1.2 pounds.

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