Review: Divoom Bluetune Bean Portable Speaker

Divoom Serves Up Another Pint-Sized Addition to Speaker Lineup

As someone who gets to try all sorts of cool gadgets, I take great pains to make sure I don’t turn into a tech snob. It’s the same way I approach food. Yes, I’ve been to some pretty fancy places like, say, high-end sushi restaurants in Tokyo’s Ginza district that served the most excellent sushi rice and buttery raw fish you’ll ever find. But this doesn’t stop me from enjoying the simpler fare or weird creations of all-you-can-eat sushi places with family and friends.

It’s a philosophy that comes to mind when I review items such as the Divoom Bluetune Bean. At just $30, the tiny 3-watt speaker definitely won’t send audiophiles’ hearts aflutter. Still, people are different, and just like I make sure to test kids’ video games with actual kids, I also make sure to test products such as the Bean with regular folks who don’t have the faintest idea what highs, mids and lows mean in relation to audio. Let’s just say I found the results to be surprising.

First, though, let’s do a quick walkthrough of the Bluetune Bean. Like its cousins the Bluetune Solo and the IFIT-1, the Bean places a premium on portability. Sporting a clip-on design that’s reminiscent of a lock, the Bean was obviously designed to be even more portable than the aforementioned Divoom speakers. The body itself uses a circular bean-like shape — thus its name — that comes in a wide range of colors. These include the more understated black and white as well as more eye-popping colors like neon blue, yellow, pink and red. Basically, it’s a playful design that aims for a younger crowd as opposed to the modern industrial design used to attract a more mature audience.

Adding to the Bean’s portability is a rechargeable battery that charges via an included USB cable. Battery life is about six hours after a full charge. The Bean also features wireless Bluetooth capability with pretty good range. Pairing the Bean wirelessly with your iOS or Android phone is simple and easy. It also comes with a built-in mic that allows you to take calls with the speaker itself. Just press the phone button and your call will get patched up through the Bean.

As with any speaker, the biggest consideration, though, is audio quality. When played with the stock iPhone player, the Bean sounds OK albeit a bit flat. Use it with an equalizer-enabled app, however, and the little bugger sounds surprisingly good for a speaker its size, featuring more dynamic sound with an added hint of bass. As with any little 3-watt speaker, however, pumping up the bass via an equalizer comes with one key caveat — distortion. Using flat audio settings actually lets you push the volume much higher before the distortion becomes unbearable, with the Bean being surprisingly loud for a speaker of its size and price. In addition to distortion at high volume, one more downside for the Bean is its limited control options. It doesn’t have buttons for changing volume or to play, skip and pause tracks, for example.

Despite not having the sophistication and power of more premium speaker offerings, the Bean certainly has a niche. I learned this the hard way after deciding to gift one to a female cousin of high-school age. Next thing I know, other female cousins of the same age were asking me if I could give them one, too. In short, the Bean likely won’t float the boat of more discerning audiophiles. At the same time, it’s also a great stocking stuffer for kids or young girls with smartphones. As they say, everything is relative after all.

Final rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

UPDATE: Divoom has since released an updated version of this device with the second-generation Divoom Bluetune Bean. While the gadget still looks the same, it now comes with a selfie remote shutter that lets you use it as a remote trigger for an iPhone or iPad from as far as 30 feet away. Other features include Bluetooth 3.0, speakerphone capability and its trademark metal carabiner for hooking it on a backpack or belt loop.

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