The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers of 2016

by Bethany McDonald •

There are hundreds of bluetooth speakers now on the market. We’ve focused on selecting speakers that stand out for their durability and sound quality. Here are our picks:

The Details

The Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker: Ultimate Ears UE Boom 2

ue-boom-2-sg-8

Pros: Waterproof, rugged, great battery life, impressive sound, lightweight

Cons: playback controls occasionally unresponsive

A favorite pick of top tech magazines, the UE Boom 2 is a remake of the popular, original UE Boom.  Although just over 1 lb., the compact, cylindrical speaker projects a loud, clear sound with deep bass in all directions.  Unlike many delicate tech gadgets, these speakers were meant to be taken outside – the outer shell is resilient, rugged and made to withstand dings and dents.  It’s not just water-resistant – it’s waterproof – and can be submerged in over three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.  The rechargeable battery lasts an impressive 15 hours, perfect for a weekend camping trip with a group of friends.  The UE Boom 2 also offers a variety of other features, including the ability to sync with a second UE speaker for even more sound, intuitive app features, and a variety of color options to suit any style.

UE Boom 2: : The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Of 2015

The UE Boom 2 is available at Amazon for around $200.

The Best Bluetooth Speaker for Sound Quality: FUGOO

Fugoo: The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers

Pros: Powerful sound, excellent battery life, durable design, customizable “jackets”

Cons:  Does not give visual cues on volume or battery life, changing jackets requires some dis-assembly

According to TechRadar, the FUGOO Bluetooth speaker is one of the industry’s best-kept secrets.  Although some high-end Bluetooth speakers from well-known brands, such as Bowers & Wilkins, Bang & Olufsen, Sony, Marshall Kilburn, and Bose, may boast of higher quality sound, many of these are not realistically portable, or likely to be used as portable speakers, due to their size, weight, and price tag.  However, the FUGOO is a true portable speaker at a little under 1.5 pounds, and includes a durable core and different exterior “jackets” depending on the purpose and environment.  Specifically, the core is itself a rugged machine capable of handling dings, dents, and spills.  The “style” jacket offers additional protection and a streamlined silhouette.  The “sport” and “tough” jackets offer additional protection.  The speaker sound is exceptional; music lovers will be astounded by the depth and clarity of the sound produced via its six drivers, including two tweeters, two mid/sub drivers, and two passive radiators.  The FUGOO also offers an unbelievable 40 hours of continuous battery life.

The FUGOO does have some small drawbacks.  Its streamlined, minimal visual design only indicates whether the machine is turned on or off.  All other cues are voice-activated, which means a simple glance to check the volume level or battery life is not possible.  Additionally, the jackets are not easily interchangeable.  Although the “style” jacket slides and locks in, the other jackets require a little more assembly; many reviews noted changing jackets was frustrating and somewhat confusing.

The FUGOO Bluetooth speaker is available on Amazon for $178 to $230, depending on jacket type.

Best Indoor Bluetooth Speaker: Bose SoundLink Color

Bose Soundlink: : The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Of 2015

Pros: Powerful sound, easy to use, good battery life, lightweight

Cons: No speakerphone support, not water-resistant

Named a top buy by CNET, PC Magazine, TechRadar, and Wirecutter, the Bose SoundLink Color is an affordable, high-quality machine.  At only a little over 1 lb., the SoundLink Color has a lightweight, compact design that can easily fit in a backpack.  The controls are simple and intuitive, making it easy to connect to your devices and go.  Several reviews noted the sound quality was very good, which Bose noted comes from proprietary technologies and its unique design.  It also features a rechargeable lithium ion battery that offers up to eight hours of use.

The Bose SoundLink Color available at Amazon for around $120.

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