If you’ve shopped for a Bluetooth Speaker recently you may have noticed that there are a dizzying number to choose from. It seems like all the big manufacturers have stepped into this category with offerings that range in price, style, and features.
But what about inexpensive Bluetooth speaker options? Are they any good? We sent our crack recon team out to find the top five Bluetooth speakers under $100 that offer the best all-around value when factoring for sound quality, build and battery life.
JBL Flip Editor's Pick
The JBL Flip looks like an oversized soda can, but sounds way better. A combination of two drivers and DSP technology give the Flip excellent sound and range, easily filling an average-sized room. Its speakerphone capability is a welcome feature, and onboard controls allow you to adjust volume, receive phone calls, and pair with devices. The Flip’s design makes it equally at home in either a vertical or horizontal position and can provide up to five hours of playback on a single charge. The Flip feels sturdy but not heavy, and the minimalist design will appeal to many shoppers.
Logitech Ultimate Ears Mini Boom
The UE Mini Boom packs great sound into a simple, compact profile. Wrapped in a rubberized casing that is available in seven colors, the Mini Boom has speakerphone capability, an auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices, and can be paired with any Bluetooth device up to 50 feet away - considerably further than many competitors. It also offers a micro USB charging port, up to 10 hours of playback on a single battery charge and it’s easy to pair with your phone or tablet. You can also pair two of them together to create genuine stereo sound, making this speaker a clever and versatile option.
The Cambridge Soundworks Oontz delivers excellent sound despite its small size and weighing in at barely 10 ounces. Available in a variety of colors, the Oontz offers speakerphone capability along with onboard music controls that let you pause, play and skip both forward and back right from the speaker. In addition to the USB cable you also receive a carrying pouch and 3.5mm audio cable for connecting to non-Bluetooth devices. You won’t find any sharp corners on the Oontz, but you will get up to ten hours of playback on a single charge, and the dollar to decibel ratio makes this a solid pick for the budget conscious speaker shopper.
Looking like Darth Vader’s lunch box, the G-Project G-Boom packs a lot of sound with its two tweeters and two woofers, and dual-bass ports. Weighing in at 5.7 pounds, its the heaviest of our choices, but the integrated carrying handle makes it highly portable. The G-Boom also offers a USB charging port, onboard playback controls and equalizer presets, and a line input for connecting non-Bluetooth devices. Able to play music for up to six hours on a single charge, the G-Boom is at home indoors or out, and a great option for under $100.
Eton Rugged Rukus
Definitely the strangest looking speaker from among our choices, the Eton Rugged Rukus features a solar panel for charging along with the traditional Micro USB port. The two speakers are positioned on either side of a built-in carrying handle, and the flat top is used for solar charging. The Rukus is water resistant and drop-proof and pairs easily with any Bluetooth device, and offers up to eight hours of playback on a single battery charge.
While Bluetooth Speakers offer tremendous convenience and portability, there are tradeoffs and compromises that have to be made in sound quality. This doesn’t mean that Bluetooth speakers don’t sound good; they sound surprisingly good! However, due to their compact profiles, speaker and driver sizes are smaller and the distance between speakers is shortened. For these reasons and others, Bluetooth speakers simply cannot compete in volume and range to their old school, wired counterparts.
That said, most people will be delighted with the sound produced by our picks, and the convenience and ease of use offered by these speakers cannot be overstated.
Let us know which portable Bluetooth Speaker you like best and why.