Portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen, but that doesn't mean they're all worth your money. You've got expensive options like the Bose Soundlink Mini which carry a legendary brand and great sound to go with it.
You've also got a ridiculous amount of much cheaper options. One of those is the Anker SoundCore, a Bluetooth speaker I picked up recently and have been really impressed with. And it costs just $36.
It's not much to look at, though you can go for something a little brighter like blue or red if the regular, ordinary matte black one isn't wild enough for you. It's not particularly big or heavy, perfect for throwing in a bag when you travel, and it's covered around all the sides with a durable, soft touch finish.
No talk of a speaker would get very far without mention of the tech specs. Here's what we're looking at:
- 6W dual-drivers
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 4400mAh battery
- Passive radiator bass boost
- 3.5mm aux input
- microUSB charging (5 hour charge time)
- Microphone for hands-free calling
The party piece of the SoundCore is the claimed 24hr play time at 80% volume. And it's absolutely spot on with that claim. I've not timed it exactly (because seriously, 24 hours), but I'm charging it about once every 4 days with fairly constant use.
The controls are incredibly simple, with buttons for volume up and down, power on and off, play/pause and initiating the Bluetooth connection. With Bluetooth 4.0 you get a solid connection and Anker claims a range of about 66 feet. In reality that doesn't seem to be the case, but equally my house has crazy thick walls which no doubt factor in.
But how far away from the speaker do you want to be anyway?
The sound gets good and loud and mostly distortion free. When you really turn it up I have noticed little instances, tracks like Blurs "Song 2" being an example of something that pushes to its limits. Bass is a little underwhelming, but I'm not sure it's as much of a deal given the price of this speaker. I'm ok with it, personally, since I don't listen to much bass-heavy music. But it's something to bear in mind if you do. Otherwise it's a fairly neutral and balanced sound.
Ultimately what you have here is a great-sounding speaker with subtle looks and a shockingly small price tag. It's not perfect, and I'd love to have seen forward and back buttons as well as just play/pause, and perhaps a less enormous logo, but those are minor complaints.
The SoundCore is an excellent bit of kit and one of the better purchases I've made recently. The combination of sound quality, price and battery life makes it easy to recommend. It also leaves me wondering why ever you'd spend so much money on a 'branded' product.
Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine