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5 Bluetooth speakers: Make your music mobile

August 24, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Matrix One

Matrix Audio
Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.0 in. (2.5 in. when opened)
Weight: 2.8 oz.
Price: $79.99 (direct)

From the first, you know that the Matrix One is meant to be portable; it comes with a small travel bag along with a lightweight USB cord that doubles as a wired connection. (Unfortunately, the instruction leaflet is so portable as to be nearly illegible; I had to find a magnifying glass to read the tiny print.)

Bluetooth speakers
Matrix One

The Matrix One is a round white ball with silver and red highlights; the top is slightly recessed with a silver bar over it. One very different aspect of the device is that you don't simply turn it on -- you twist the two halves, and it pops open like a small accordion (this apparently enhances the bass sound).

The controls for the One are a bit awkward -- mainly because they're so small. A tiny rocker switch acts in several capacities; you raise the volume by pushing it to the right and holding it, and lower the volume by pushing it in the opposite direction. In order to go to the next track or the previous track, you move it to the right or left and immediately release it. To pause and play you push it straight in.

There is also a separate power switch with separate positions for Bluetooth and line-in connections. According to the company, the battery should last for up to 14 hours on a charge.

I was actually surprised at the sound I got from the Matrix One. The audio wasn't as full as what I got from the Logitech Mini Boombox, but it had a fairly good bass, especially considering the device's small size, and was quite loud and full enough for a small room (say, a hotel room).

As with the other very small speaker in this roundup, the Jam, I could hear a few seconds of static between the time I paused the audio and the time it cut off altogether. However, in the case of the Matrix One, it wasn't nearly as audible; I had to put my ear right down to the speaker to hear it, and most users will probably not notice it at all.

Speakerphone

As a speakerphone, the Matrix One will do in a pinch. It announces a call with a rather quiet series of tones; you push the rocker switch to the side to pick up. (The first time, I pushed the rocker switch in and accidentally hung up on the call.)

From my end, the audio was slightly muddier than what the Mini Boombox provided, although I didn't notice any breakup at all. On my caller's end, the sound was a bit tinnier and what she described as gravelly, although when I turned the device so the mic was facing me, she said that the quality was almost equal to that of the Logitech speaker.

Bottom line

All in all, I became rather fond of the Matrix One. The sound isn't quite up to some of the more expensive speakers in this roundup, and the controls could be a bit easier for adult hands to use, but it's incredibly portable and perfect for throwing into a backpack or suitcase.



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