All smartphones out there have speakers with some respectable audio quality, but even with their built-in sound, it would still be best if you rely on an external audio solution.
That being said, while earphones and headphones are great from a portability standpoint, nothing beats the quality of sound that Bluetooth speakers produce.
If you are looking for one, read further to find out the best Bluetooth speakers in 2020.
Best Bluetooth Speakers
This is what I would consider the best Bluetooth speaker for your home. The Sonos Move is a pretty hefty speaker at 3 kilos and while it is not the best when it comes to portability, it pretty much makes up for it with its sound output.
The quality is just superb- the bass is boomy, the highs are pronounced, and the mids are not drowned out at all.
It integrates well with other Sonos products so if you want to link them together to make a great home audio network, you can do that as well.
People who are looking for a smart speaker would also be glad to know that the Sonos Move can also be used for such a purpose as well. It should integrate with both Alexa and Google Assistant without a hitch.
If you just want a Bluetooth speaker solution without the use of WiFi, the Sonos Move is also perfect for such and will provide you with a sound unlike any other.
2.UE Boom 3
This ‘United Ears’ product is the best when it comes to overall usability. Its small form factor allows you to easily bring the speaker with you no matter where you go.
You can choose a color that suits your personality as there are plenty of options to choose from.
Although not as boomier than other speakers out there, what I love about the UE Boom 3 is its more balanced sound. That is pretty hard to do considering that this is a small form factor audio solution, but I am surprised by the audio quality overall.
Its Bluetooth range can reach up to 100 meters which is great and the unit can also last up to 15 hours if you have fully charged it.
This is the perfect solution for people that are on the go that want a really good sounding speaker.
If you’ve played an electric guitar before, you are probably aware of the brand. Marshall has been at the forefront of quality amplifiers back then (and even to this day) and its impeccable craftsmanship is again showcased in the Stanmore.
The Marshall Stanmore dons that familiar design that a lot of people love. Its classic look makes people think instantly that this is a quality product and true enough, it delivers on that promise.
While these speakers are amazing, there is a bit of an emphasis on the mids. For the uninitiated, that just means that vocal clarity is more pronounced than other speakers of this class.
Even though it is not as portable as others, this model pretty much makes up for it in terms of overall sound quality.
You may want to tweak the sound to your liking but I am happy with how everything is set up right off the bat.
4.JBL Flip 5
JBL is another great company when it comes to Bluetooth speakers. The JBL Flip 5 is perfect for people that want an external sound solution that they can bring with them on the pool. And when I say ‘on the pool’, I mean you can safely swim with the unit.
Although this model is devoid of any smart features, the Flip 5 is one of the best Bluetooth audio solutions out there. Its small form factor might make you think that it doesn’t produce a boomy sound, but you are mistaken. It actually delivers on that front.
Even if you crank the volume up to 11, the speakers won’t produce any distorted sound at all.
Thanks to its IP67 rating, you can easily bring your Flip 5 speaker to the pool without worrying too much about it.
Its price might also entice you to buy as well. While it’s originally sold for $150, you can snag one up at a much-discounted price.
Another great Bluetooth speaker that you can bring to the pool, the Sony XB41 is still a portable audio solution, although it is a bit heavier than others.
The XB41 produces amazing sound quality, though its mids are not as pronounced as the others that you can find on the market.
One interesting feature of the XB41 is that it actually has a lighting system that you can toggle by using its companion app.
You can also tinker with the audio settings or you can choose any of the EQ presets from within the application itself as well.
The entire speaker is protected by a mesh fabric material and that is why it got its IP67 rating. Even though you can dip it in the pool, I still wouldn’t recommend that you submerge it for a pretty long time.
Its battery life is superb and this model can get really loud- perfect for people that want a booming party solution.
6.JBL Link 20
As we transition to the new age of smart homes, getting a smart speaker has become more viable than ever before.
A smart speaker, for those of you who do not know, is basically an audio solution that can integrate with existing smart technologies such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The beauty of such audio solutions is that you can ask it to play a certain song and it will immediately find that song on the internet and play it for you. Of course, to have such functionality, the speaker itself must be connected to the internet via your home WiFi.
The JBL Link 20 is one of the best portable smart speakers on the market. It has a sensitive microphone that is able to pick up your voice commands without a hitch.
For instance, if you want to use Google Assistant, all you have to do is say, ‘Hey Google’, and it would instantly allow you to speak whatever is on your mind.
This particular product is able to last up to 10 hours on a full charge and it is also dust and waterproof as well.
7.Bose Home Portable Speaker
The Bose Home Portable Speaker is a great alternative to the Sonos Move speaker mentioned above.
It still has that large form factor but I am surprised by how lightweight it was in comparison with other similar models. In fact, it only weighs 2.4 kilograms which makes it more portable than others.
The design of this particular model has that signature Bose flair so everywhere you bring this speaker with you, you can flaunt it with pride.
It has a more balanced sound stage than the Sonos Move and while its bass is not as pronounced, it is still respectable nonetheless.
I would recommend this speaker for people that want a more balanced sound than a boomier setup.
8.Anker Soundcore Flare
There are some people that might not have the money to buy an external portable audio solution and if you are part of that group, then the Anker Soundcore Flare might appeal to you.
It is one of the best Bluetooth speakers that have a sub-$100 price tag and it truly delivers on that promise.
While its bass is not boomy than others, it pretty much makes up for it with its overall balanced sound quality. It is powered by two full-range drivers and a passive radiator to produce audio.
The Anker Soundcore Flare is also IP67 rated which means that it is dustproof and waterproof to a considerable degree.
Its companion app allows you to tweak its EQ and its presets are actually pretty good so novices can easily switch between profiles to find what they love.
I do want to point out that you do not want to put it at max volume because the sound that it outputs is a bit distorted. But, other than that, this product is a solid choice.
9.UE Wonderboom 2
If you want waterproof/dustproof Bluetooth speakers that have a small form factor but still produces amazing sound, the UE Wonderboom 2 is an amazing option.
This speaker has been lauded for its amazing waterproof and dustproof rating and its 0.93lb weight makes it ideal as a travel companion.
There is so much to love about this product. First is its amazing battery life. Playing some sounds on it at 70% volume would give you a bit more than 13 hours of audio playback which is insane.
The Bluetooth range is also great. In fact, you can be 100 meters away from it and it would still produce sound from your phone.
While its bass response leaves much to be desired, I can still wholeheartedly recommend the UE Wonderboom 2 because it is simply amazing value for money.
10.LG Xboom Go PK5
The LG Xboom Go PK5 is the ideal audio solution for parties and outdoor events. Its large form factor will immediately tell you that this speaker packs a punch.
Its gargantuan form factor also tells you that this particular model can last up to 18 hours of audio playback which is definitely on top when it comes to battery life.
It is waterproof and dustproof thanks to its IP67 rating so you shouldn’t worry about the occasional splashes if you are to have a pool party, for example.
Despite its capabilities, the PK5 actually delivers a more balanced sound stage. Of course, if you want more bass, you can download its companion app and tweak its EQ settings from there.
If there is one thing that this product lacks, it would be its lack of smart functionality. Still, the LG Xboom Go PK5 is an amazing Bluetooth speaker, especially for party addicts.
What to Look for in a Bluetooth Speaker
When you are searching for an external audio solution, it is important that you know what you should look for. Below are just some important considerations before you make a purchase:
Considered as the most important thing when looking for an audio device, the speaker’s sound quality should definitely be on the top of your list.
While your preference for sound is subjective, this can help you decide if you want a speaker that outputs a more balanced sound or one that has a punchier bass.
While most (if not all) smartphones can connect to an external speaker via Bluetooth, it is important to know what codecs it has.
For instance, if you want amazing sound quality, you should be looking for one that has aptX or newer technologies.
Do you want a Bluetooth speaker that you can bring with you anywhere or do you want one that you can just use at home?
Form factor and portability are two important things because the sound that a speaker outputs will also be affected (so is the price).
One of the things that people like about Bluetooth speakers is the ability to have a portable audio solution that is better than Bluetooth headphones, for example.
Ideally, you want to go with an external audio device that can last at least 10 hours or so, though that will entirely depend on convenience and preference.
Do you want a portable sound solution that you can bring with you when you want to have a pool party? The IP rating is not as important as the above-mentioned considerations, but having one is definitely welcome nonetheless.
There are new Bluetooth speakers out there that also act as smart speakers. If you want a smart home audio solution, getting one would make sense, though keep in mind that smart speakers are more expensive than a traditional Bluetooth speaker.
There are some Bluetooth speakers that allow you to pair up with external audio solutions made by the same company.
If you happen to have two JBL speakers, for example, you can link them up to produce better sound. However, if you want to buy a newer speaker, it is important to read on the product’s FAQs to find if it is compatible with the one that you have first before buying.
Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers
Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.
You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.
That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!
For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.
The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.
Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.
With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.
For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.
On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.
At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.
Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.
If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.
This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.
Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.
Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.
To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.
The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.
On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.
It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.
However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.
Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.
The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.
Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade
When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.
There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.
You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.
Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.
Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.
There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.
The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.
You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).
What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: A12 Bionic
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB/128GB
- Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
- OS: iPadOS 14
- Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
- Battery: 32.4 Wh
So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.
While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.
Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.
Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games.
Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.
It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.
Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.
However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.
My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.
If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.
The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.
Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.
Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes
Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.
It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.
Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?
One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.
The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.
You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.
Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.
The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.
I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.
Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.
An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.
So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.
3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.
I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.
To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.
The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.
You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.
Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.
Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball.
For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.
You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.
You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.
Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.
The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.
You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.
Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?
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