Bose portable speaker review
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Bose portable speaker review


Bose has long been a major player in the world of Bluetooth speakers – and its latest model, the Bose portable speaker, is poised to further consolidate this reputation.

If 2019 was the year of the smart speaker, 2020 should be the year of the portable smart speaker – and with the Bose portable speaker, as well as competing models like the Sonos Move with Google Assistant tips and Alexa alongside Bluetooth connectivity, the market is already growing rapidly.

So can Bose avoid competition from Sonos? We are testing its latest portable speaker.

Price and availability

The Bose portable speaker, available in black and silver, is available for purchase for $ 349 / £ 369.95 / AU $ 499.95, making it slightly cheaper than the Sonos Move of $ 399/399 £ (unless you are in Australia, where it costs AU $ 649).

Although cheaper than its biggest rival, the Bose portable speaker is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination – its predecessor, the Bose Soundlink Revolve, costs $ 200 / £ 200, while our runner-up Best list of portable speakers, the UE Boom 3, is just $ 129.99 / £ 129.99 / AU $ 199.95.

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Design

Everything about the design of the Bose portable speaker is portable, from its lightweight and compact construction to its practical bucket-shaped carrying handle and its waterproof IPX4 case.

Measuring 7.5 inches tall, the portable speaker is wrapped in an anodized aluminum case, available in silver or black finishes – we prefer the futuristic-looking silver model, but the black version is a good choice if you love the minimalist look.

The overall effect is sleek and sophisticated, and it’s really convenient to carry – you’d be surprised how many portable speakers are a real hassle to take on the go, with bulky constructions and non-existent handles.

(Image credit: Ditching)

The bottom third of the speaker has a wrap-around grille designed to explode your music in all directions, while a second, much smaller grille is located at the top of the speaker, surrounding the rubberized control pad. This is also where there is an integrated microphone array, to pick up your voice when you summon your voice assistant.

On the top of the speaker, you have power, Bluetooth pairing, volume and play / pause buttons, as well as a button to mute the microphone – handy if you prefer your voice assistant to listen not at all times.

At the back, you’ll find a USB-C charging port and … that’s it. No AUX connectivity here. You can also charge the portable speaker using the Bose charging cradle, sold separately for $ 29.95 / £ 24.95 / AU $ 39.95 and provides a base on which your speaker can sit ..

(Image credit: Ditching)

features

When it comes to portable speakers, battery life is everything and this Bose model comes with respectable 12 hours of playback on a single charge. It’s more than the Sonos Move, but it turns pale compared to the 24 hours offered by the Tribit XSound Go. However, the latter cannot compete with Bose or Sonos in terms of sound quality.

Setting up the Bose portable speaker is really easy; Just download the Bose Connect app and follow the steps to connect it to your WiFi, choose the voice assistant of your choice and select your music and radio services. These include Spotify, Deezer, YouTube, Amazon Music, TuneIn, etc., as well as AirPlay 2 for iPhone and iPad users.

Designed for life on the go, the Bose portable speaker is a smart speaker; with Google Assistant and Alexa built in, you have the choice of the top two voice assistants depending on the ecosystem you’re already using.

In addition to asking your voice assistant of choice to play music, you can ask them for weather updates, check your calendar and control your connected devices, turning the Bose portable speaker into a speaker for your smart home. .

We used Google Assistant in our tests, and found that it worked perfectly, that we were asked for songs from Spotify or that we were asking for updates; the built-in microphones had no trouble picking up our voice, even with music.

(Image credit: Ditching)

Performance

The audio quality offered by the Bose portable speaker is indeed very good, with a warm and well-balanced soundstage.

We started our tests by listening to Hummingbird from Fleet Foxes; A natural sounding guitar with soft inch bass strings resonates in the room without dominating the finely plucked treble melodies. It doesn’t have quite the sheer fidelity of the Sonos Move, nor the detail, but as the main voice merges into the Appalachian-style harmony, each voice blends perfectly.

In Little Dragon’s After The Rain, the punchy bass lines feel tight and controlled while the hi-hats sway above with striking music; meanwhile, hard-hitting organs and brass lines pulsate under flowing jazz voices. It’s a complicated mix, but the Bose portable speaker works well, if not with the assertiveness of the Apple HomePod, which sounds quite more exciting.

(Image credit: Ditching)

Moving on to Stormzy Heavy, the head, the soft piano, haunting rhythms, and gospel-inspired choirs dampen crisp rhythms and compelling voices. Bass sublines move moodily through the mix, adding depth and warmth – they sound powerful enough for a portable speaker, but bass heads will likely prefer the extended bass frequencies provided by Apple HomePod .

The Sonos Move is also better suited for bass, but that is to be expected – it is, after all, twice the size of the portable speaker and perhaps less convenient to use on the go.

(Image credit: Ditching)

Final verdict

The Bose portable speaker isn’t the brand’s first exterior-compatible speaker, and it shows: a gorgeous minimalist design meets weather-resistant robustness, with a lightweight construction that lends itself to listening moving. Having this bucket-shaped handle rather than the concave handle of the Sonos Move is the icing on the cake of portability.

Connectivity, battery life and smart features are all good, and we like the flexibility of having both Alexa and Google Assistant integrated.

Compared to many cheaper portable speakers, it looks fantastic, with a well-balanced and resonant soundstage. However, the Bose portable speaker doesn’t quite respond to the dexterity of the Sonos Move, nor the power of the Apple HomePod – so, if audio quality is your main concern, you may want to first consider these options.

In terms of sheer portability, the Bose portable speaker is a clear winner, and we have no trouble recommending it.

  • Looking for something a little more robust? Discover the best waterproof speakers of 2020

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