A party in a box, the Satechi ST-69BTS Audio Cube pairs with your phone or other mobile device via Bluetooth to crank out your favorite tunes. A bit larger than the competition but still travel-friendly, this $44.99 device promises jaw-dropping audio at a great price. Spoiler alert: it delivers.
Click to EnlargeAs its name suggests, the Satechi ST-69BTS is essentially a cube with rounded sides. Measuring 3.1 x 3.1 x 3 inches and weighing 7.7 ounces, it's on the larger side for portable Bluetooth speakers. The iHome iDM11 is slightly smaller (2.75 x 2.75 x 2.75 inches) but a heavier 11.1 ounces. The portable speaker has a soft-touch rubberized black finish, and the Satechi logo and buttons on the top light up in blue when in use.
The clean design features three simple buttons on the top of the unit: Volume Up, Volume Down and Power. The Volume Up button does just that as well as skip to the next track, while Volume Down turns down the level of sound and skips to the previous track. The Power button turns the device on and off and plays or pauses a track. The sleek top of the unit where the buttons are found is shiny, but doesn't pick up fingerprints easily. Our only gripe is that you have to use a bit of force pressing down to get the stiff buttons to respond.
Click to EnlargeOn the left and right sides of the device are where the actual speakers are located. A mini-USB port and a 3.5mm aux-in jack sit on the back of the device.
After charging the ST-69BTS with over a mini-USB connection, we pressed the power button down for about five seconds to turn on the Audio Cube. It then beeped, and the outer rim of the top of the device started flashing blue.
To pair the Cube with our iPhone, we held the Power button down until the blue light flashed at a faster frequency. We then saw ST-69BTS pop up under Devices in the Bluetooth menu, and we tapped to connect. Once we were paired, the blue light on the Cube stopped flashing.
Songs boomed out of the Audio Cube. Popular hits such as Maroon5's "Payphone" sounded great. The dual 2-watt speakers easily filled a medium-size room, and handled Adam Levine's high-pitched crooning with aplomb. Kanye West's "Mercy" also blasted out of the speaker, but almost too much -- the bass became muddled, especially at the max volume.
By comparison, the Veho VSS-009-360BT delivered even crisper and equally loud audio, but didn't handle bass as well. Lower-end tones were much more driving on the Satechi Audio Cube.
Reportedly able to stream music from up to 33 feet away, we had no problem taking our iPhone with us and leaving the speaker 30 feet away while still listening to our favorite songs. However, when we took our iPhone 4 behind a partition in the room we were testing in, audio cut out and was spotty.
The Audio Cube automatically turns off after a few minutes of not using it, so it won't waste battery life. And while Satechi says users can get up to 5 hours of playback at 60 percent volume, we got an impressive 7 hours and 51 minutes of playback time. That clearly doesn't compete with the DBEST PD4003BT Duo's 22-hour battery life, but is much better than the Veho's endurance of 2:45.
Satechi says the unit takes 2-3 hours to charge, but it took us only 1:49. The top of the device lit up red while charging; when fully charged the light turned off.
Click to EnlargeAlthough Satechi's ST-69BTS Audio Cube is on the larger side among palm-size Bluetooth speakers, its excellent audio and driving bass makes it sound even bigger. While we wish the buttons weren't so stiff, its fairly long battery life and low price of $44.99 -- half that of the Veho -- make it an excellent and affordable Bluetooth speaker.