Wireless technology may be commonplace but to me, it’s still a bit magical.
Even early technologies like transmission radio and radar still do amazing things today and more recently technologies like WIFI and Bluetooth have released our consumer gadgets from their cable shackles and set them free.
If there was one wireless technology that struggled to be magical, it had to be Bluetooth. For years it was the least cool wireless technology out there, making people look daft as they shout into Bluetooth earpieces.
Happily though, the last few years have seen Bluetooth revitalized as the wireless technology for our speakers, solving a genuine (first world) problem.
Now that we're listening to music stored on our smartphones (RIP MP3 players), having to leave them in a docking station to connect to speakers it is a bit of a pain (RIP docking stations).
These days there are hundreds of Bluetooth speakers on the market at all price points, but most are delicate or expensive devices that you wouldn't want to take into the back garden, let alone any further.
But if you still want good sounding tunes from a device that can withstand the bumps and moisture that comes with being outside, then I have a recommendation for you.
Beyond those chimneys are some of the majestic mountains of Snowdonia in North Wales - but you can't see them because this is June and the fog is not going to lift today. Every summer holiday should have some sun, but we've all been on those trips where the weather hasn't been on our side and a wireless speaker like this one from Expower can help lift the spirits without getting too worried about the wet stuff.
The chunky rubber casing gives the speaker not only resistance to being dropped, it's also water and dust resistant making it a perfect outdoors companion.
At the top of the speaker there are three buttons and the power light. There is a play/pause button, and two buttons that allow you to skip forward and back, or raise and lower the volume with a long push. Having the music controls so readily to hand means that your smartphone can remain safely tucked away from the elements and leave all the risk to the Expower.
You'll also notice that there is a phone symbol on the play button. This is because the speaker also has a microphone, allowing you to receive calls without touching your phone. There's no screen for caller ID though, but it's easy enough to hang up on the cold-callers.
Finally, emblazoned underneath the buttons, the speaker is clearly proud of it's NFC capability. NFC is yet another low-power short-range radio technology looking for a problem to solve. On this speaker, it's job is to make pairing your smartphone with the speaker much easier. If your smartphone has NFC too, simply touch the two devices together and within a moment, they'll be all paired up and ready to go. Even without NFC, pairing is fairly simple just using Bluetooth.
At the price, the fact that the speaker is up to outdoors adventures regardless of the weather makes it something of a bargain - but more than that, it really sounds good too. Instruments are well separated at all volume levels and bass is present even when dialed down. Like most little speakers, the bass punches out more aggressively when dialed right up, but it has a good full sound long before you're upsetting the neighbours in the next tent and it will make a great kitchen speaker when you're back home too.
One constant worry for gadget lovers, particularly when enjoying the great outdoors is the lack of a charging socket. The Expower will give you a good nine hours of tunes before it gives up the ghost - but whilst a speaker running out of power is one thing, none of us like it when our smartphones die. Streaming music wirelessly whilst out and about does seem like criminal waste of precious phone power, but Expower have thought of that too and the speaker will gladly share some of its power with your phone.
Secreted away at the other end of the speaker, under a rubber flap are two USB sockets (micro and full size) and a 3.5mm jack. The jack allows non-Bluetooth devices to play their tunes over good old-fashioned cable and the full-sized USB is for charging up your phone in 'power-bank' style. Finally, the micro-USB socket is for charging the speaker up. A full charge takes about 4 hours, which might seem a long time, but its capacity means it will give you hours of music pleasure and top up your phone at the same time.
The Expower speaker represents a drop in the ocean (one it might survive!) of a typical holiday budget. Whether you're headed off to some exotic far away land this Summer, or just heading down the coast for the day, having wireless tunes of this quality with you will enhance your enjoyment of the trip.
I recommend one in every suitcase!
Credit: Thanks to Smart Technology for the review sample
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