The Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker offers big, rich sound in a small, sleek package. Starting at $299 ($349 for the leather version), this 2.9-pound device has a clever cover that not only doubles as a stand but turns the device off when closed. If you want a Bluetooth speaker, this is the one to get.
At 9.5 x 5.1 x 1.9 inches and 2.9 pounds, the SounLink is a bit heavy, but it's still very portable, easily slipping into a messenger bag or large purse. It's also fairly rugged, as Bose claims to have exposed the Soundlink to vigorous drop testing as well as environmental testing for sand, salt, fog, wind, and moisture.
Thanks to its smart chocolate-brown leather cover, the Soundlink Wireless Mobile Speaker looks elegant in just about any setting. Bose offers additional leather covers in Burgundy and Tan as well as nylon covers in black, red, and purple. The covers are also sold separately ($29.95 nylon, $49.95 leather) for added customization.
The best part about the SoundLink's design is that the leather cover flips back, acting as a stand and revealing a slate-gray speaker grille surrounded by chrome. When you flip the cover closed, it automatically shuts down the speaker to save power, similar to the Smart Cover on the iPad 2.
The sides of the Soundlink are decorated in gray brushed aluminum, and the top is black matte plastic with six large flat buttons for power, auxiliary mode, Bluetooth pairing, mute, and volume.
Setup and Ease of Use
Pairing the SoundLink to various devices was as simple as pressing a button. Once our laptop and smartphones were made discoverable, we simply pressed the Bluetooth button on the speaker for a couple seconds. A flashing LED slowed down to a glow, letting us know that the speaker was ready to pair with our iPhone.
As with most Bluetooth devices, the speaker has a range of about 30 feet. We love that the SoundLink stores the six most recent Bluetooth devices in its memory, allowing for almost instantaneous pairing on next usage.
With four low-profile neodymium transducers and dual opposing passive radiators, the Soundlink Wireless speaker provided a very balanced performance. Whether we streamed music from our smartphone or laptop, the speaker easily handled everything from Styles P and company's gritty hip-hop anthem "Harsh" to Lady Ella's bright up-tempo vocals and big horn section on "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm". The Soundlink easily filled a medium-sized room, and sounded best when the speaker was situated somewhere in front of us.
Sadly, there's no speakerphone capability. In the event that a call does come in, the Soundlink pauses the music and resumes as soon as the call ends. During our testing, we found that there was little to no latency when chaging tracks stored on our iPhone, but a second or so of lag when using Pandora.
Bose claims that the Soundlink Wireless Mobile speaker‘s lithium-ion battery can last 8 hours at typical listening levels and 3 hours at high volume.
The $299 Bose Soundlink Wireless Mobile speaker gives listeners big, rich sound in a sleek and stylish portable package. It's simple to set up and boasts a versatile cover, and the ability to store six Bluetooth devices in memory gives it a kind of "set-and-forget" quality that users will enjoy. Those who need speakerphone capability will want to look elsewhere, but overall the Soundlink is a great choice for those willing to spend more for a superior portable audio experience.