Category Archives: Speakers

Sengled Pulse Solo Review

Sengled LogoLast year I reviewed the Sengled Pulse, a pair of Bluetooth-controlled LED lights with built-in speakers. The Pulse pair sounded surprisingly good but were somewhat indiscreet, being big and bright red. For those wanting something a bit more subtle, Sengled have developed the Pulse Solo, a smaller single LED bulb in white and silver that still provides stereo sound. Let’s take a look and see if the new Solo still delivers big impact from a small space.

I was recently on holiday in Mallorca and used the trip to test out the Solo. Never one to pass up a few gratuitous body shots, here’s the Solo soaking up the sun by the pool.

Sengled Pulse Solo

Sengled Pulse Solo

With a standard E27 screw fitting (B22 bayonet available too), installation is simple and the smaller bulb size makes it much easier to find suitable lamps. The dimensions are 72 mm x 142 mm, weighing in at 340 g, which is hefty enough for a light bulb. In terms of lighting, the bulb is more of a spotlight than anything else, though it’s not tightly focussed. As a result the Solo casts good light if the lamp is high up or intended to be directional, but I wouldn’t use the Solo in a side or table lamp. The brightness is rated at a maximum of 550 lumens which is slightly less than the 600 of the original Pulse lamps but is comparable with other LED smart bulbs, such as Philips Hue.

The LED light is on the warm side of white at 2700K – that’s extra warm white according to some commentators. Here’s the Solo powered up in one of Ikea’s finest illustrating the light colour and distribution.

Sengled Pulse Solo in Lamp

Once screwed in and powered up, the Solo is available for Bluetooth pairing in the normal way. I paired successful with a couple of devices, including a OnePlus 2 smartphone and Nexus 9. Once paired, the Pulse Solo works as a Bluetooth speaker without any further intervention. For greater control of the volume and brightness, there’s the Sengled Pulse app available for both Apple and Android devices. The app appears to connect to the Solo via a second Bluetooth device but the app handles that pairing by itself.

Sengled Pulse Sengled Pulse Sengled Pulse

The app’s changed a little since the last time and it’s now possible to control both the brightness of the lamp and the volume of the speaker from the same screen. Overall, this is an improvement but there’s no visual feedback on the volume level. You do end up with two volume controls, though, one for the Solo through the app and one for the mobile device itself.

As with the bigger Pulse, the Solo’s speakers are “JBL by Harman” and Sengled have managed to squeeze a pair of 1″ 3W speakers into the Solo. Obviously these aren’t going to be hifi quality as the stereo separation is neglible, bass is limited and they struggle with the treble (“esses” suffer) at maximum volume. However, it’s easy to focus on the negatives when the Solo is actually very listenable and fills a small room at full blast. It’s also quite fun when people can’t work out where the music is coming from.

To summarise, the Sengled Pulse Solo is a smaller less obtrusive solution than the larger red Pulse, but the reduction in size is at the expense of audio quality. Aside from my foreign travels, I found the Solo was a tidy solution to desk clutter too, as I could put the Solo into my work lamp, providing both warm light and musical entertainment without cables everywhere

In the end, I think that people who like high quality sound for listening will find the Solo wanting and should perhaps considered the larger Pulse, but for many people who want a little casual backgound music, the Solo will work out fine. The Pulse Solo can be bought direct from Sengled for €59.90 though the bayonet version (B22) is available for only GB£27.93 on

Thanks to Sengled for the review Pulse Solo.

iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker Review

iClever LogoOn review here is the iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker IC-BTS03. It’s an IP65 water resistant Bluetooth speaker with a 10 hour playtime. Perfect for outdoor tunes! Let’s take a look.

The iClever Speaker is a orange and black cuboid with speaker grilles on two sides, controls on the top, inputs on one side and a camera mount on the bottom with a rubber carrying strap on one corner. Roughly, 10 x 9 x 5 cm, there’s a bit of a ruggedness to the speaker too with a rubberised exterior and informal drop tests show that it’ll stand up to the odd accident. IP65 specifies that the speaker is totally protected against dust (6) and it’s sealed against low pressure water (5). Basically, it means that it’s ok to get splashed or dropped in shallow water.

iClever Wireless Outdoor Speaker

In the cardboard box, there’s the speaker, a USB-to-microUSB cable, a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm jack cable and instructions. The USB cable is used for charging only and can’t be used to play music from a PC or laptop. Both the microUSB charging port and the aux in socket are under a rubber flap that needs to be peeled away to get access. iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerWhen charging, the sole LED on the front will light up red and it’s green when the aux socket is in use.

Across the top, the controls are straightforward – power, volume down, play/pause/answer, volume up. When turned on, the BTS03 is straight into pairing mode with the LED flashing blue. A voice helpfully intones, “Power on. Pairing”. You can then connect to the speaker in the normal way, receiving “Connected” when done and the LED goes a solid blue. As a bonus, the iClever can work as a speakerphone too – it’s kind of fun (or bonkers) if you are with a group of friends.

On the bottom, there’s a standard camera screw fitting which makes it compatible with a wide range of mounting accessories.

iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerThat’s the physical out of the way. What does it sound like? Well, if you are expecting this to sound like a $500 Sonos, then you are going to be disappointed. If you expect it to be a $30 5W portable speaker weighing less than 300g that you can throw into a bag for a day at the beach, you’re going to be happy enough. The sound is clear, with vocals coming across well. As you’d expect, the bass is under-represented but crank up the volume and there’s a fair beat. It’s not massively loud but it fills a room well enough.

Overall the iClever Outlook Wireless Speaker ticks all the boxes for an outdoor speaker. Semi-rugged, long battery life, splashproof and reasonably loud. It’s available now from (US$30) and for GB£17.

Thanks to iClever for the review unit. Unboxing below.

Philips Fidelio E6 Provides Surround On Demand

Philips LogoWatching movies at home is nicer when you have surround sound. However, it is not easy to put together a surround sound system. You have to plan ahead, mount speakers, and figure out how to hide all those unsightly wires. Philips Fidelio E6 provides an extremely simple way to get surround sound on demand.

Scott spoke with Senior Manager of Philips Electronics, Ken Chan, at the Gibson Brands Booth at CES 2016. They talked about the Philips Fidelio E6 Surround on Demand speakers. What might look like one speaker is actually two detachable speakers.

The speakers sit next to your TV. When you are ready to watch a movie, remove the top speakers and place them in the back of your living room. After the movie is over, you can easily put the detachable speaker back where it was. Philips gives you a very clean and tidy solution for true surround sound without any wires.

The Philips Fidelio E6 Surround On Demand speakers have internal Wi-Fi. The detachable speakers have a battery inside them that charges when the speaker is attached. It can be fully charged in two hours. You can watch ten hours of movies, with surround sound, on a fully charged speaker.

The Philips Fidelio E6 is not yet available in the United States, but may launch in Spring or Summer. The retail price $799.

Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Eton Solar Powers for Good and Bad Days

Eton LogoEton‘s motto is “Empowered by nature” and in this case, it’s powered by nature too, with a full range of solar powered gear. Scott gets charged up with Sharon Cook, Eton’s VP of Marketing.

First up is the Rukus Xtreme, a solar powered Bluetooth speaker with USB charging ports. Five hours of charging gets around eight hours of playing time and with an IPX-4 rating, the Xtreme won’t mind a few splashes either. Available for US$179 (MSRP $199).

Next is the the Xtreme’s baby brother, the Rugged Rukus, which is perfect for camping or hiking weighing just a pound. Retails for US$79 (MSRP $99), it charges and plays for similar times to the bigger Xtreme and has the same IPX-4 rating.

On standby for emergencies, Eton have the Scorpion II, a “rugged, portable multi-purpose digital radio, that charges smartphones with crank power back-up and weather alert”. Think of this as being the information equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife or Gerber Multitool. You need one of these in your emergency packs and at US$50 you’d be a fool not to get one.

Finally, FRX5 is the big brother of the Scorpion II, with all the emergency features you can think of from torches to emergency beacons, am/fm radio to NOAA weather alerts and SAME regional alerts. Powered by solar, crank, rechargeable batteries or three AAAs, you can charge via USB if you need to. Perfect for the home or car at US$100 (MSRP $129).

Note Eton is known as Soulra in some countries.

Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Altec Lansing BoomJacket Bluetooth Speakers at 2016 CES

boomjacket-blue-front-1024x512Scott Ertz interviews Jill Byeff, marketing for Altec Lansing Speakers. They discuss Altec Lansing’s BoomJacket line of waterproof, shockproof Bluetooth speakers for active outdoor lifestyles.

The BoomJacket speaker is priced at $199.00 and is IP67-rated waterproof, sandproof, shockproof and snowproof construction. It is also floatable and submersible and has a 50 foot Bluetooth range. It has a 40 hour battery life at spoken word volume level. The BoomJacket also features a built-in universal mounting mechanism for easy attachment to equipment and structures like bikes, kayaks, jet skis, and motorcycles.

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Aud Air Joins iLuv’s Lineup of Portable Bluetooth Speakers at CES 2016

iLuv Aud AiriLuv Creative Technology introduces the newest addition to their line of portable Bluetooth speakers. The Aud Air is ideal for both the home and on-the-go. Aud Air provides lossless high quality audio streaming from mobile devices, music streaming services and computers through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing users to enjoy their favorite music no matter where they are.

Featuring iLuv’s jAura sound technology, the Aud Air offers listeners the ability to wirelessly connect multiple devices together to create a unique multi-room listening experience at a fraction of the price of other products on the market. Multiple units can either play the same music for a true stereo experience, or different music in various rooms for a diverse multi-room experience.

The Aud Air takes just minutes to set up thanks to the easy-to-use Aud Air app, which controls the speaker from a smartphone or tablet and allows users to personalize their music settings. The Aud Air’s Wi-Fi capabilities not only let users play their favorite music from their mobile devices, but it also connects directly to internet radio stations and streaming music sources like Pandora, iHeartRadio and tunein.

iLuv’s Aud Air has an SPR of $99.99 and is available now at and other select retailers.

The Aud Air will be on display at the iLuv Booth #8625 at CES January 6-9 in Las Vegas. The booth will feature brand new products from iLuv, including 2K IP cameras and Wi-Fi enabled lightbulbs.

UB+ Modular Speakers at CES 2016

UB+ modular speakersUB+ is a newly launched audio brand. They will be showcasing their existing modular speaker products, and unveiling their latest range of new products, at CES 2016.

UB+ is the maker of the award winning UB+ Eupho portable Bluetooth speaker and the UB+ Eupho Brave expansion casing. The UB+ Eupho Brave casing is made from solid ash, and can integrate 6 UB+ Eupho speakers.

Users can easily switch between large and small speakers. They can enjoy UB+ Eupho Brave as a sounder to complement their TV. Remove one UB+ Eupho speaker from the casing and take it with you when you go out to enjoy awesome music on the go.

In addition, UB+ Eupho will unveil their latest range of products that also make use of the modular speaker concept. UB+ EuphoXL is a speaker module that is designed to fit with other products easily. It allows designers from different fields to fuse high quality sound elements into any design even without having prior acoustic knowledge.

Visit UB+ at the Venetian Suites booth 31-315 at CES 2016.

Sengled Pulse Lamp and Speaker Review

redlogoThe Sengled Pulse is a pair of Bluetooth controlled LED lamps (or lights) with built-in stereo speakers. Who would have thought it? A single product bringing together two technological memes; functional convergence and the smart home. Let’s take a look and see what the Sengled Pulse offers on both these themes.

Sengled Pulse Box

Two things struck me as I opened the Sengled Pulse box. The first was the bright red colour of the lamp cases and the second was the size of them. These are big heavy bulbs and it’s going to restrict what fittings can be used with the lamps. The fitting options are further reduced by the direction of the light emitted from the lamps as there’s little sideways illumination. In short, a pendant fitting with a large shade is your basic option.

Sengled Pulse Lamps

The Sengled Pulse is installed just like any other lamp – screw it in! Both screw and bayonet bases are available, which will please UK readers, though in this instance, I was supplied with the screw base variant anyway. Once screwed in and turned on, the lamps are white and bright, and a little brighter than my current Philips Hue bulbs. The box says 600 lumens.

One lamp is designated as the Master and the other as the Satellite. To get them connected together, the easiest way is to power them up close to each other. Once they’ve paired, the Pulses can be moved apart. The other option is to use the Pulse app: more on this later.

Communication with a smartphone is via Bluetooth and the usual process applies for pairing the smartphone with the Sengled Pulse lamps. I was testing with a OnePlus 2 and had no problems.

Sengled Pulse Brightness Sengled Pulse Volume Sengled Pulse Adding

Once paired, the smartphone can control both the brightness of light and loudness of sound through the Pulse app, available from the Apple App Store and the Google Play. Music or other audio plays directly from apps via Bluetooth. The Pulse app is straightforward with two tabs, one for lights and one for sounds. The app handles device management too and a clever pairing feature uses the smartphone’s camera to scan QR codes on the sides of the Pulse lamps. Up to eight Pulse lamps can be joined together.Sengled Pulse QR Code

The app is a bit short on “smart home” features. For example, there’s no way to set the lights to come on at a pre-determined time or to automatically turn on when a Bluetooth connection is made. I was hoping for more.

The speakers in the Pulse lamps are “JBL by Harman” which means that they ought to sound half decent and they do. Music is clear with perhaps a little too much treble at times but given the size of the lamps, there’s never going to be much power behind them. Big powerful songs like Frozen’s Let It Go or Adele’s Skyfall lose their impact. Without damning with faint praise, the Pulse’s sound better than you’d expect speakers-in-lamps to sound and they’re fine for casual music and radio listening.

Ultimately, the Sengled Pulse is a neat solution which compromises the sound to fit everything into the lamp shell, but if convergence is your thing (or you want cool looking red LED lamps), the Pulse is available from Sengled’s online shop for €129 (which is about GB£100) or US$149. It’s available from other online and real-world stores too.

Thanks to Sengled for the review Pulse.

Creative Sound Blaster Roar Review

Creative LogoWhile everyone’s eyes have been on drones, portable Bluetooth speakers have been the sleeper hit of the past few years. From low-fi to hi-fi and prices to match, there’s a speaker for everyone. On review here is Creative’s Sound Blaster Roar, a compact portable Bluetooth wireless speaker with NFC, though this description sells it short by a long way. Let’s take a look.

To start with, the SoundBlaster Roar is about the size of four DVD boxes stacked on top of each other, though it’s a bit narrower (57 x 202 x 115 mm). It’s no lightweight either with a bit of mass (1.1 kg), which is reassuring when it comes speakers. There’s metal mesh on four sides and a swathe of controls, slots and sockets on the fifth with soft touch rubber which spills over onto the top. The design itself won a Red Dot Award in 2014.

Creative Roar

Some of the controls are self-evident such as the power button and volume controls, but it’s not immediately apparent why there are buttons for record, play and pause. Even more surprising and concerning is the switch marked “ARM”, which fortunately is in the off position for now.

The Roar is much more than a Bluetooth wireless speaker. It’s a hands-free speaker phone, a USB digital sound card, an MP3 player, an audio recorder, microSD card reader, a battery pack and a siren. It’s quite the box of tricks with versatility to take it from the office to the party.

Powering up the Roar plays a satisfying little jingle – it’s on and ready to rock. Starting with the basics and playing music from a smartphone, it’s straightforward to pair the Roar, with a choice of two techniques. Pair via the normal Bluetooth passcode or else swipe the NFC hotspot on the Roar to automatically set the pairing, assuming your device has NFC.

With the pairing done, it’s time to play some music. Given Creative’s long history in audio, it’s not unsurprising that the Roar sounds good. For it’s size, it’s very good indeed which rich sound that’s far bigger than the box itself. To achieve this presence, the Roar houses five speakers in the unit’s body, with sets of speakers tuned to deliver in the bass, mid and high frequency ranges. For extra volume, the ROAR button will turn it up to eleven, through it needs to be plugged into the mains to get maximum volume output.

The Roar is a portable speaker and as a necessity there’s a built-in battery that according the specs gives eight hours of playback. I’m not going to disagree with that – it’s in the right space. The Roar can be recharged either from a supplied power brick or via micro-USB through a port on the rear. There’s a full size USB port too for recharging other devices such as smartphones and tablets from the Roar. Battery status is shown by three round green LEDs on the top.

That’s the main presentation out of the way and if that’s all that’s needed from a portable wireless speaker, the Roar delivers well and is worthy of closer inspection.

Creative Roar

But it’s so much more. As the speaker pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth, it’s not entirely unexpected that Roar doubles up as a speakerphone. In use, call quality was good and echo was minimal, and unlike most speakerphones, the audio from the phone call can be recorded to the inserted microSD card. Potentially a useful feature, but check the legality of recording conversations in the relevant jurisdiction.

The Roar works as a USB audio device too, and installation is largely limited to plugging a USB cable between the PC and Roar. Windows auto-loads the drivers and a few seconds later, the Roar is good to go to play music (and other sounds) from the PC. In this mode, the Roar is powered by the PC and the battery charges up as well. The Roar complements music streaming services such as Spotify or Google Music.

Next up, the Creative Roar can work as a standalone music speaker. Load up a microSD card with mp3s and pop it into the Roar. There are simple controls for play, next track, previous track, repeat and shuffle.

Finally, returning to the ARM button, the Roar has a siren feature. Arm the unit with the switch at the top and press the Alarm button to get a whoop-whoop siren to get everyone’s attention. What more could you want?

Overall this a portable wireless speaker that is crammed full of features and the Roar is everything you need for music on the go, in the office or at home. It’s a great sounding wireless Bluetooth speaker, speakerphone, call recorder, MP3 player, USB digital sound card, battery pack and personal alarm in a portable package costing GB£129. There’s nothing to quibble about here, though I’d really like to see it in yellow. Available now from good retailers and direct from Creative’s store.

Thanks to Creative for the loan of the Roar.

Divoom Airbeat-10 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Divoom LogoIt’s rare that products sent for review offer any great surprises: usually gadgets arriving on my desk meet my expectations in terms of build, functionality and price. However, occasionally a device delivers more than expected and I’m pleased to say that this is one such occasion. The Divoom Airbeat-10 punches well above its weight with loudness and clarity that belies its diminutive size. Sorry if this ruined the review but let’s take a look anyway.

The Divoom Airbeat-10 is portable Bluetooth speaker with speakerphone. It’s splashproof and comes with a suction cup and bike mount, though Airboot is just as happy to sit on the table or hang from a hook. A USB to micro-USB cable is included for charging and a 3.5 mm stereo lead comes in the box for devices without Bluetooth.

Airbeat-10 Contents

The Airbeat-10 is about 9 cm along the sides and around 4.5 cm tall. Covered in a soft touch rubber, it’s available in four colours; black, white, red and blue. An LED on the top lights up to show Bluetooth and charging activity, on the side there are four buttons for power, phone functions and volume up/down, along with a covered port for USB charging and 3.5 mm aux in. On the back of the Airbeat is a standard camera screw mount which is used for the suction cup and bike attachment but can be used with other camera accessories such as a GorillaPod. The Airbeat 10 weighs in at 155 g, meaning that it’s not hollow plastic.

Airbeat-10 Buttons

Pairing is straightforward. Turn the Airbeat-10 on, search from the Bluetooth settings on the phone or tablet and pair up. Easy-peasy and time to make some noise.

And this is where the Airbeat-10 delivered well beyond my expectation – it produced rich and surprisingly loud sound for such a small device. Certainly it’s not audiophile hi-fi and it’s not stereo but for a pocket-sized portable device the Airbeat-10 is very good indeed. Music comes across well through the range with little of the tinniness normally associated with small lightweight devices and good amount of lower end bass.

Airbeat Speaker with SuckerI had the Airbeat on my desk for the review period and it was great to have it handy for a quick listen for both music and podcasts. It’s portability and wireless connectivity meant that I could move it round my desk as I needed space. Battery life is a claimed six hours and that seems about right – I found that I needed to charge the Airbeat-10 once or twice a week depending on usage.

The Airbeat-10 is splashproof as well and with the suction mount, it’s ideal for use in the shower. I whacked it onto the tiles with the sucker, started the radio app before stepping in and listened to the morning news in the shower without getting my smartphone wet. Excellent.

There are three minor issues that I found with the Airbeat. First, when using it as a speakerphone, the microphone on the side needed to be pointing at the speaker otherwise the caller on the other end of the line didn’t hear too well. The second was that sometimes “silence detection” seemed to be overly aggressive and between music tracks or between people talking in podcasts, the Airbeat would go silent (presumably to save power) but then there would be a small pop as the sound restarted and the first half-second of speech or music would be lost. Adjusting the volume upwards on the smartphone or tablet usually helped. Finally, the soft touch rubber coating was a bit of a fluff magnet!

These niggles aside, I was impressed by the Divoom Airbeat-10. Although small, the quality of the sound and volume is better than anything I’ve heard at this size, and the portability and wireless connectivity make it the perfect casual speaker whether in the office, in the shower or out-and-about. At this time of year, I’d recommend it to the music Festival crowd and later in the year I’d be suggesting it as a great stocking-filler.

The Divoom Airbeat-10 is available from retailers worldwide with an RRP of £29.99 in the UK.

Thanks to Divoom for the Airbeat-10 for review.