James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

If you'd like a classy, bass-rich hi-fi sound when you play music on a laptop, tablet or phone, read our Speedlink Portajoy Bluetooth speaker review

Overview

Sometimes it almost seems that technology has to catch up with itself before it represents real all-round progress. This seems to be the case with music players. 

Gone are the days of audio cassettes, and we no longer know anybody who takes a ghetto blaster and stacks of CDs on holiday in a plastic CD wallet. We remember once loading a selection into a CD-changer into the motorhome, then using the vehicle's CD player as our only source of music on holiday. Now, however, most people have embraced the idea of taking music with them wherever they go, stored on laptops, tablets, smartphones and MP3-players.

All these music-playing devices are small, light, compact and perfect for motorhome holidays. The only trouble with miniaturisation is that the sound quality tends to be tinny and unsatisfying, unless you're wearing headphones.

Various plug-in speakers have been marketed in recent years to enhance the sound quality of miniature music systems. Typically, you connected them up with a USB lead or a jack plug into the headphone socket in your phone, laptop or tablet.

Nothing stays still in the world of tech gadgets, though, so now manufacturers are using the same Bluetooth technology that allows you to make hands-free phone calls while driving, to create wireless portable Bluetooth speakers.

The best of these has an inbuilt microphone so that if you get a phone call, you can interrupt the music to take the call wirelessly. These often have volume controls on the Bluetooth speaker, and even a selection of input possibilities, so that you can play music from any device, both wirelessly and via USB lead, headphone jack and even microSD card. Speakers with all those options can even work as stand-alone music systems.

We have also been very impressed by the fact that a few Bluetooth portable speakers are showerproof, meaning that if you take your music to the beach you won't have to worry if a few drops of rain should fall, or shout at the dog for shaking his fur dry in the vicinity of your speaker. 

We decided to test an array of these Bluetooth speakers, with motorhome touring in mind. We checked out the Speedlink Portajoy at £64.99, and the Edifier Bric Connect costing £79.99. We tested the red bucket-shaped Creative Woof 3 speaker, priced at £39.99, and the Denyon Envaya Mini DSB-100, £79.99. The unusual-looking blue brick-like Creative MUVO Mini, costing £39.99, caught our eye. Then we tried the pale blue Edifier MP211, £39.99, and its sophisticated sibling, the Edifier Prisma Encore, £129.99.

In this review we'll shine our spotlight on the Speedlink Portajoy, which comes in a choice of black or grey, costing £64.99 at the time of our test. Unlike its mighty-mite sibling, the Speedlink XILU (£22.49), the Speedlink Portajoy sounds mellow and rich. Shut your eyes and you can imagine that you are listening to an old vinyl LP on a top-end 1970s stereo. While the sound is delightfully retro, the unit is cutting-edge. Input your music via Bluetooth, NFC or the auxiliary port and listen to an astonishing 25 hours-worth of tunes between charges.

Technical specs

Size210mm × 140mm × 90mm
HandleLeather
NFC functionWorks within 10m range of paired music player
ControlsTouch-sensor operation
Charging timeSix hours
Built-in microphoneFor hands-free mobile phone calls
Sound qualityPowerful bass
Stability featureRubberised feet
ConnectionsWireless Bluetooth, NFC, audio cable, charging cable included

Verdict

The main thing we've been searching for is good sound quality, and the Speedlink Portajoy portable Bluetooth speaker is superb on this front. Other rival speakers come in more colours and some look more fun, but this versatile device puts all its efforts into a great sound. We've awarded it four stars.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Excellent old-school sound quality
  • Plays for 25 hours before it needs recharging
  • NFC: connects to devices within 10m range
  • Multiple input methods

Cons

  • Dull colours
  • Takes six hours to recharge
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