• User Review: Sony SRSBTM8 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

    About a year ago, I wrote a user review about a the Samsung DA-E670 Bluetooth audio dock, which I have continued to use with a variety of devices, including some made by Samsung (such as the Galaxy S3) and some made by other manufacturers (such as the LG Nexus 5). The audio dock has provided a great listening experience when in my lounge, but I have often wanted something a little more portable – something I can take around the house with me (or into the garden). I have moved the Samsung on a number of occasions, but it’s a bit of a hassle.

    Upon doing some research, I came across the rather attractively labeled Sony ‘hand bag’ portable Bluetooth speaker. This portable speaker (pictured above) works either over the mains or with 4AA batteries, and has been affectionately called the ‘hand bag’ as a result of its carry handle. Upon looking at a number of devices around the £60-mark, I settled on the Sony, feeling somewhat assured that at least buying into Sony would be a safe bet. Presented below are my thoughts on the device and general impressions around sound quality.

    Portability

    A key requirement for me was that the device be portable. This means not being too large, but also being big enough to support decent-sized speakers. I wasn’t personally all-that fussed about being able to work off batteries, though it certainly does add to the portability argument. In general, I think that Sony have done a good job in this regard – especially adding the handle, making it very clear that these are designed to be portable.

    Audio Quality

    There are a number of claims made by Sony about this speaker, such as a ‘bass reflex system’. In general, the audio quality is good – the 2x2watt speakers kick out enough sound for the rooms that I am using the speakers in. The bass is present, though not always as much as I would expect or am used to when compared with devices containing dedicated subwoofers. I guess that is to be expected. Overall, my feeling on the audio that it really didn’t wow me – I was satisfied with the results, but it is in no way comparable to the Samsung mentioned earlier, for example (though it is a lot less than half the price and intended for an entirely different purpose).

    Bluetooth + NFC

    The bluetooth connection worked flawlessly. Any device with NFC has been able to connect to the speaker unit simply by being placed next to the NFC chip on the speaker. I mention this, as I have seen a number of comments on the net complaining about the need to download additional software. This has not been my experience at all.

    Re-connection to pared devices

    Something that came as a little surprise was that if the last-paired device is within range (with the Bluetooth turned on), the speaker unit will automatically connect to the device. This is fine provided that you don’t expect to chop-and-change the source of your music playback.

    Hands-free Calling

    This has turned out to be a great feature. It’s not something that I thought I would get a lot of use out, but when doing the washing up, for example, it’s great not to have to swipe across a touch-screen with a semi-wet hand. Having used this a number of times though, the clarity has never been good enough and I have had to switch to using the phone as the person on the other end has always complained of not being able to hear me.

    Design / Aesthetics

    As design goes, this speaker is pretty safe really. But that’s a good thing. It looks sensible and well-placed in any room, really. The buttons are easy to press, and make contact well – my only real criticism is that I’m not used to the placement of the buttons, so it can take me a little while to do something. Pressing ‘pair’ by mistake, for example, will unpair the speakers from the current device.

    Value

    Personally, given the quality of the audio, the features within the speaker and the size, I think it offers great value for money. This is a portable speaker that is not trying to be anything else and succeeds at being a portable speaker.

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