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5 Bluetooth speakers: Make your music mobile

August 24, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Logitech Mini Boombox

Logitech
Dimensions: 2.3 x 2.8 x 4.6 in.
Weight: 8.0 oz.
Price: $99.99 (direct), $80-$127 (retail)

The name of the Logitech Mini Boombox has, for me, rather unfortunate connotations -- I remember the days before personal mobile audio products when decidedly un-mini boomboxes deafened many NYC subway riders -- but otherwise, it's a nice little portable audio system.

Bluetooth speakers
Logitech Mini Boombox

The review unit came in black with the sides in red; there is also a model that is white with a black top, and one that is completely black.

Except for an on/off switch, mini-USB connection and Aux input in the back, all the features are accessed by touch controls on top of the unit -- they are illuminated by red LEDs and aren't visible unless you touch the top once. They let you go back to the previous track, go forward to the next track, pause/play, or raise or lower the volume. There's also a control that either pairs the Mini Boombox with your Bluetooth device, or answers a phone call, turning it into a speakerphone.

Unfortunately, while this is rather neat effect -- and could be useful at night or in darkened rooms -- I found it a bit inconvenient on two levels. First, it means that you have to touch the top twice in order to perform any function. Second, it would have been a lot better to have physical buttons that you could feel as well as see.

A small LED on the front lets you know how the battery life is doing; it shows blue when it's charged, red when it's starting to get low, and blinks red when it's nearing the end of its life. According to the company, the battery should last up to 10 hours on a charge.

For its size, I found the sound of the Mini Boombox surprisingly rich and clear, ideal for a nearby desk or bed table. As with the other, smaller speakers, there is very little stereo effect (not surprisingly, considering how close the speakers are to each other), and there is the expected distortion when it gets loud -- but on the whole, I was quite impressed, especially considering the size of the device.

Speakerphone

As a speakerphone, the Mini Boombox is satisfactory, but not something you'd want to use regularly. It interrupted the music when the call came in with a series of tones that sounded a bit like the theme from the old Twilight Zone TV show. On my end, the voice of my caller was quite strong and clear, but occasionally broke up -- not enough to really interrupt the conversation, but still noticeably. The caller at the other end reported that my voice was tinny and a bit fuzzy; there was also a slight echo.

Bottom line

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Logitech Mini Boombox for anyone who wants a small portable speaker for a smartphone or other mobile device. While it's not quite as handily designed as the Matrix One, it is compact and very lightweight (at 8 oz., it's even lighter than the Jam), and offers fine sound quality. At $100 list, it's a good buy.

Note: Logitech will be replacing the Mini Boombox with the Logitech UE Mobile Boombox in September. The Mobile Boombox will feature a new design, 10 hours of battery life, and (according to the manufacturer) improved sound. Like the Mini Boombox, the price will be $99.99.



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