I had been eyeing the Logitech Mini Boombox as an easy-to-set-up solution for times when I show video clips in classes and workshops, but couldn’t make a decision whether to get it or not.
On the one hand, it got a terrible review from Gizmodo and, on the other, it got lavish praise from actual users over on Amazon. In the end, the ability to pump out enough volume to fill a small classroom won over the ability to faithfully reproduce the nuances of songs and other pieces of music.
The “Mini” in Mini Boombox is well justified by its size. The footprint is about the same as my iPhone 4S, albeit a bit wider and not as tall. The speakers are just a tad over two inches in height, and the squat, curvy black box reminds me of the portable alarm clock I used to carry around with me on my travels.
The unit is dominated by a large, shiny top surface (fingerprint magnet!) with LED-backlit touch-sensitive controls. A metal grille covers the two front speakers, and at the back are the power switch, mini-USB charging port, and aux-in port for non-Bluetooth audio sources. There’s also a small resonating chamber at the back meant to help these tiny speakers pump out a bit of bass.
The volume is very loud — enough to be easy heard by all my students in a 30-square-meter room, and much louder than the portable Lenovo speakers that I had been using for the last couple of years. For playing back videos, podcasts, and audiobooks, the Mini Boombox works wonderfully well. For music playback, though, you’ll notice the lack of definition, and the distortion at peak volume. If you want portable and great-sounding, take a look at the Soundmatters foxL or Soundfreaq Sound Kick.
In my case, that doesn’t matter very much since I use it mostly for spoken voice playback, and when I do use it for music, it will be while traveling, in places that are far from ideal and with lots of ambient noise.
Setup was a breeze. I just turned the unit on and it started looking for Bluetooth devices to pair with. Within 20 seconds it had found and paired with my iPhone, and I could start pumping out music through the Mini Boombox.
The touch controls are responsive — there’s hardly any latency between pressing play or pause and the consequent start or stopping of the playback. At first, I thought that the top-mounted controls were superfluous, but they turned out to be useful especially in cases where the phone was on the desk or near a socket, plugged in for charging, and i’m in another part of the room, doing some chores or reading.
The Mini Boombox’s controls are simple and easy to use. The LED backlighting is activated by a deliberate tap and not just a touch, and the buttons — volume up and down, Bluetooth/speakerphone, play/pause, and forward and backward — are large and easy to hit.
Wireless playback of audio from videos also works well, with no lag or syncing issues. This makes the iPad, or any large tablet a great portable video entertainment system for small groups. Skype and FaceTime calls are also much easier to share with a group since everyone can hear the people at the other end of the call.
I paired two devices (an iPhone and an iPad) with the Mini Boombox, and it could reconnect with either one without having to pair again. The Logitech Mini Boombox is not, however, a multi-point device, and can only connect with one device at a time.
The Mini Boombox also serves double duty as a speaker phone. You can answer calls by tapping the Bluetooth/Phone button, and then hang up by tapping the same button at the end of the call. Music or video playback pauses when the call comes in, and resumes once the call is ended.
The built-in, rechargeable battery is rated at 10 hours of continuous use, though I haven’t had the chance to verify that claim yet. The unit turns itself off after 30 minutes of disuse, and you’ll have to toggle the power switch at the back (a minor annoyance) to wake it up.
The Logitech Mini Boombox comes in three variants (red, or blue, or white accents), and retails for Php3,250 at Microstation (VMall, Galleria) and at other stores that sell a wide range of Logitech speakers.
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