We all know that teens are not interested in Barbie dolls and Hot Wheel, but one thing that most teens have in common are their interest in music. In this article we delve a little bit into the world of Bluetooth speakers. Most people are familiar with Bluetooth – the short-range radio signalling protocol that allows personal devices to communication and transmit data and especially audio.
People don’t carry boomboxes that play cassette tapes or even CDs any more. They play their music through their smart devices and audio players either from digital music files or through online services such as Pandora and Spotify.
First of all let’s be clear that this is not a hands-on review, and by no means are we researching every Bluetooth speaker on the market. There are probably 100 or more such devices for sale, so we are limiting ourselves to the ones that have the highest user reviews on sites like Amazon.com.
So let’s first go over some of the features that you should look for in a Bluetooth speaker:
- Sound Quality – Cheaper uits typically have worse quality, but there are exceptions
- Loudness – If you are using the speaker outdoors you may want a louder unit.
- Battery Life – Important for portable speakers used on the go.
- Size and Weight – Smaller is better for carrying and portability.
- Water resistance – Needed if you use the speakers out in the wilderness.
- Other Features – Additional connections, sound adjustments, etc.
We’ll touch on some of these qualities as we describe the handful of speakers mentioned in this article.
In addition to features you can also take into account the brand name of the speaker. Some name brands will grab your attention: Bose, JBL, Logitech, and Anker. And of course Amazon Basics is another common brand found on Amazon.com. But remember that brand names usually command higher price tags, often warranted by the product, but you can also find satisfactory products from lesser-known brands.
Finally, before we get to the good stuff, since this is an article is geared towards gifts for teenagers we are limiting our article to speakers under $100.
Now let’s get to it …
The Oontz Curve Bluetooth speaker is a good basic speaker at an affordable price It has over 2000 reviews on Amazon and they are mostly very positive, with many mentioning the good quality sound that this speaker puts out. It can run for 5 hours on a single charge of its lithium ion battery. This speaker is actually small enough that you can fit it in the cupholder of your car.
This model comes in may different colors and can typically found in the $20-$30 range. We think this is a good choice for an entry-level Bluetooth speaker.
The JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Bluetooth speaker is a step up from the plethora of budget and entry level models. It sells in the $80-$100 range, although prices can vary over time. The main feature of this unit is that it has very good water protection. It is splash and rain proof, and you can even clean it under running water.
One thing that we like is that it can operate as a speakerphone for your smartphone. When your phone rings while playing music you can simply press a button to receive the call through the speaker.
This JBL unit puts out some really good sound, especially the bass. The battery is very good – providing up to 10 hours of playtime on a single charge. The speaker comes in multiple colors.
The Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker is a very capable unit that delivers a very long playtime (up to 24 hours on a single charge) as well as a long Bluetooth range (66 ft). The pricing is pretty much in between the previous two units in this article, so it will certainly not break your budget.
The size and weight make this a very portable unit, but it is designed by Anker to produce a very good quality sound including bass.
And finally, this product has an incredible 18-month warranty. This is the icing on the cake for us – the risk/reward for the price is hard to beat.