Home Theater & Entertainment Audio Portable Beats: Choosing a Speaker for Your Desk or the Road Share Pin Email Print Looking for even more pointers for buying a portable speaker? Here are a few more things to think about to help you decide on that portable speaker purchase. Braven Audio Speakers Stereos & Receivers By Jason Hidalgo Writer Jason Hidalgo is an award-winning technology and business journalist whose writing has also appeared in Engadget, USA Today, and the Reno Gazette-Journal. our editorial process Jason Hidalgo Updated July 12, 2018 Here are a few things to think about to help you decide on that portable speaker purchase. Ruggedness Move over metrosexuals. Looks like lumbersexuals are the new “in” dudes these days. Then again, ruggedness isn’t limited to looks. It’s a trait that also applies to portable speakers. If you’re the type of person who likes to bring your portable speaker with you to the park or on the trail, having a more durable speaker can provide added peace of mind during unsettled weather. The Braven BRV-1, for example, is water-resistant and can survive a sprinkling. For something even more durable, the ECOXGEAR ECOROX not only can survive rain but an underwater dunking as well. It can even float on water if you want a speaker that can literally be in the pool with you. Battery Power For added portability during long outdoor jaunts, a portable speaker with a built-in battery is great to have. While this is normally a regular feature for most wireless speakers, not all built-in speaker batteries are created equal. The iFrogz Tadpole, for example, is one of the smallest speakers you’ll find but that excellent portability comes at a cost of battery life, which is laughably short. In contrast, the CUBEDGE EDGE.Sound comes with 10 hours of operation time on a single charge. Some speakers, such as the Braven 850 even double as a portable battery that can charge your other electronic devices via its USB port. This makes the latter an even better option for longer trips. Another option is the speaker dock, which lets you charge a compatible smartphone or tablet while also outputting audio. Smart Features Portable speakers are also sporting features that work with smart homes. The Ultimate Ears (UE) Blast+Powerup, for instance, offers hands-free control with Amazon Alexa. Combine that with the included Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features and anyone with this speaker is ready for some serious fun. Sonos, too, offers a variety of portable speakers that let you use voice control with Alexa, too. That makes it easy to listen to your favorite streaming music service from wherever you are. Guitar Hero Fancy yourself as an aspiring musician? In some cases, some speakers such as the iLoud speaker from IK multimedia also double as studio monitors. This is great for folks who want to get more out of their speakers besides just listening to their tunes. In addition to letting you plug in instruments such as an electric guitar or even a dynamic mic, for example, the iLoud also has a built-in iRig circuit that allows it to work with several music creation apps for iOS and Android. At the same time, the speakers are still small enough to take with you on the go so you can indulge your creativity outside of the studio. E.T. Phone Home Like syncing your smartphone with your speaker? In some cases, portable speakers also double as speakerphones, allowing you to answer calls with a press of a button. This is great if you leave your phone in the living room and have your speaker in the kitchen because you can answer the call via the speaker without having to walk all the way to where your phone is. In some cases, speakers such as the SuperTooth HD Voice can be clipped just above you while driving in the car to serve as a hands-free device and also double as a speaker for Google Maps, which is great during long drives. Price is Right Last but certainly not least when picking a portable speaker is price. Just how much you’re willing to spend impacts your options, with shallower pockets limiting your choices as well. Do note that just because a speaker is priced high does not mean it’s automatically good. In some cases, some manufacturers charge a premium for their name brand and that’s pretty much all you’re paying for. You can still get good speakers at a lower price but there’s certainly a difference between a $20 or less budget that limits you to tiny speakers such as the iFrogz Tadpole vs. a budget of $200 or more.