"Is that a meteor on your desk?"
"No, it's a Bluetooth speaker."
This is an actual conversation we had while testing the Sony Ericsson MBS-100. While its resemblance to an asteroid will attract stares from your friends or co-workers, this Bluetooth speaker will sound good in a small living room. Just don't expect speakerphone capability.
Design and Features
About the size of a softball, Sony Ericsson's 3.9-inch diameter speaker certainly draws a crowd. The unit keeps from rolling off the table with a pear-shaped base that contains a plug for the AC adapter in the center and a 3.5mm jack on the far left side. However, this shape makes it nearly impossible to plug a rubber-coated 3.5mm jack into the unit without bending the plug itself.
But it's what's inside that counts, and with that, we were somewhat disappointed: the MBS-100 doesn't have speakerphone capabilities and there's no volume control on the speaker itself, two things which we think are critical for a Bluetooth speaker.
The 1.5-watt MBS-100 sounds pretty good for its size. Pairing the speaker via Bluetooth with a BlackBerry Curve 8330 was a snap, and we were rocking out in no time. Audio sounded slightly compressed, but not so much that it was intolerable. The MBS-100 seems to have sacrificed high- and mid-ranges for better low end. On LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends," the piano loop was slightly muffled and felt distant in the mix. Likewise, the Elizabeth Elmore's vocals, the piano, and the horns on the Hold Steady's "Chillout Tent" were almost nonexistent compared with what we heard with the Altec Lansing SoundBlade speakers. However, the low-range sounds, including the bass, sounded great. On the same song, Craig Finn's deep voice sounded thick and well rounded.
While using the 3.5mm jack was challenging, once you get the plug in, the sound quality is slightly better than via the Bluetooth connection. The high- and mid-ranges are still buried but not to the same extent. Overall, the sound was a little louder and less prone to distortion at high volumes. The MBS-100 is loud enough to fill a small office, but it wouldn't hold up to an impromptu picnic dance party.
The Sony Ericsson MBS-100 will definitely attract attention, but we wish the remarks were more about the sound quality than its appearance. If you're looking for small speaker with more control, we prefer theMotorola EQ5 Portable Wireless Speaker: For $20 more you get speakerphone capability along with volume and playback controls on the speaker itself. If you want better Bluetooth stereo sound overall, we'd put our money on theAltec Lansing SoundBlade. It has a slightly bigger footprint but far-superior audio quality.