The portable speakers segment seems to be getting crowded these days. With the popularity first built on the hype of x-mini, most of the portable speakers come in the design of a hamburger. Recently, a boxed-typed speakers like i-maingo started to pop up, from Jabra to Logitech, and now, Braven.
First off, it is clear, that Braven has put a very close thought to the packaging, with a very nice clear plastic case to house the speaker and accessories. Clearly, whilst the speaker would and should not be requiring much protection, it does give the device a sense of luxury.
Within the packing, a microUSB cable, 3.5mm auxiliary cable as well as a lanyard is given, together with a quick manual.
Featuring a rugged all body rubber construction as well as a perf-metal grill to protect the tweeters, the BR-V1 is built to be one tough beast. Rated at IPX5, it is designed to be your everyday, everywhere speaker. But what does this rating actually mean?
IPX-5 – Protected against low pressure water stream from any angle. It is award to a device in which it continues to function when directly subjected to 12.5 L of water per minute from all directions using a 6.3 mm inside diameter nozzle at a distance of approximately 3m for at least 3 minutes.
Hence, bring it around in your shower, to your runs, party’s or perhaps in your kitchen, this will device fit the bill.
To achieve this standard, the BR-V1 comes with stereo bluetooth support, which hence allowing it to be blasting music wirelessly.
Powered with the powerful 2 1.25 inch drivers, the speaker comes with a down-firing chamber (70mm passive subwoofer) for the extra bass. This meant that when we are enjoying our music, for additional bass, we would require the speaker to be placed upright on a solid portable ground like a big container or table top to maximize its amplification for the best sound quality. That said, however, even holding it or handing it hanging on a tree branch, the sound is already pretty good, compared to its competition such as x-mini or i-maingo.
Armed with a 1,400mAh battery which Braven claims is good for up to 12 hours of continuous playback, this battery can is also used for another purpose. Braven has smartly included the ability for this device to charge your portable devices such as your BlackBerry phones on the go using a USB cable. Whilst on a full charge, this capacity is potentially large enough to recharge your BlackBerry 9900 (1,230 mAh), it will only be able to add significant extra juice to your BlackBerry Z10 (1,800 mAh) or Q10 (2,100 mAh).
As you can see on the back, there is a microUSB port, a standard full usb port together with a 3.5mm audio cable in port. Above them, there is a button to press to check the battery life which will light up in a sequence to show how much juice is left. Wait, wont this leave the device vulnerable to liquid damage since the ports are exposed? Not exactly. The plastic cover lined with rubber gives it its protection right here!
Having used it for over a month now, the output of 6W is sufficient to full a moderate room or for personal use during cycling or runs. However, as a speaker to share music out in the open in the forest or on a boating trip, it might just not suffice. However, for its size, the sound is just amazing. Despite the small size, it did not hinder the speakers in projecting audio widely around a room and there is a surprising amount of stereo separation given its two drivers are placed so close together. In fact, there is even a strong balance of low, mid and high range performance with enough detail to let one enjoy their acoustic and classical music and sufficient bass to generate the booms for dance and rock tracks. Whilst this would not be able to replace any standard full sized Hi-Fi systems, this could jolly well replace most of your portable speaker systems.
To make this device even more enticing for mobile users, the speakers are able to act as a speakerphone as well. There is a built in microphone in the speaker, hence, this could also be a handsfree device. Calls come through this gadget loud and clear and in many instances, I actually sounded clearer on the phone than if I were to speak directly into the phone. Hence, if your traveling or going to somewhere that could be potentially wet, and yet you don’t wish to risk your precious phone, this baby could just be your life saver.
Using it as a bluetooth speaker, on moderate levels, the device lasted over 8 hours in its water resistant mode. Using it as an auxiliary device however, saw the battery life going upwards to over 10 hours, just shy of the 12 hours rating by Braven. Charging through the usb port, was not an issue for the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10, although on legacy devices, it suffers the same fate as the Zaggsparq battery pack.
What I really missed was the ability to work it as a daisy chain speaker from the i-maingo or x-mini where we could have a few speakers chained up to create a louder, surround effect. Also, with the battery capacities of mobile devices on the rise, 1,400 mAh is hardly enough. Bringing this for a camping trip would barely last even a day, hence, if its battery capacity could be topped up, it would have been much better. Finally, the fact that I need to turn the device on, in order to use the USB port wastes some of the precious power. The device is also configured to automatically shut down if there is no active bluetooth connection for 30 minutes adds to the woes for charging or playing back via its Aux in.
All in all, is this worth the $150? If your a outdoor person or one loitering near wet hazard areas, this is a must have! However, for a everyday office usage, the i-maingo and its buddies would fit the bill perfectly. You can get the Braven BRV-1 from Braven here!