There are many new Bluetooth devices arriving up on the scene as the demand for hands-free in-car devices drives forward, but they’re not all designed to be in-ear or for use in your vehicle. One such device is the Braven 600. It’s a wireless portable Bluetooth speaker, plus a whole lot more, that’s designed to be used just about anywhere.
I guess a more appropriate term would be multi-tasking speakerphone. It’s a speaker so you can listen to tunes; it also has a built-in microphone so when you connect to compatible devices you get a full-duplex speakerphone, you can talk on the phone, talk over Skype and do a whole lot of Facetime, without your earbuds, or holding your phone.
It’s finished in a stylish anodized Aircraft-grade aluminum case. It comes in 2 colours, Ash Grey and Moab Red, our test unit, the latter.
It’s nice and portable, measuring 6.25” wide x 2.5” high x 1.75” deep and weighs only 12 oz. Although small, it’s not really designed to fit in your pocket, but rather more on your desk (or picnic table). And because it’s Bluetooth enabled, wireless, it can sit nicely on your desk, like an ornament.
It has a minimalist exterior design with simple port configurations found on each side. On the right: a power switch, volume control, Micro USB and audio in. On the left: a USB charging port, an audio out/daisy chain port (which you can use to connect to other Braven units for louder sound) as well as a battery check indicator (which generally tells you if you are full, empty or somewhere in between).
Battery Doubles as a Charger
It has a built-in 3.7v 1400 mAh battery designed for 12 hours of playtime. In addition, its power out port turns your battery into a power pack so you can double up and run your speaker off the battery while you recharge your phone. It will recharge any devices that use a 1A adapter, up to about 50%. Behind the grill is a pair of 3W speakers and rear-firing dual passive subwoofers.
I tested the Braven 600 with an iPhone and MacBook Air. Pairing with the speaker and getting up and running was a breeze. In fact I was also testing another set of Bluetooth speakers and I could switch between them quite easily.
The wireless sound, given the unit’s small form-factor is actually quite good. It did get louder if I used a direct connect rather than Bluetooth. While it did produce stereo sound, because of its size and the two internal speakers closer together, channel separation was limited. Daisy-chaining two units together however would not allow you to use one as a right and the other as a left.
The bass was quite respectable, but limited compared to a dedicated sub, as the dual subs were not down firing. Of course, I’m just being picky. As an audiophile I have to remember how small it is and what it was designed for.
Its functionality, as a speakerphone worked, but was not always 100%. It uses licensed DSP technology for enhancing the audio as well as algorithms for echo and noise canceling. During my testing, while I could hear my callers just fine, they found my voice at times coming across as a little tinny. I eventually discovered that the mic is actually positioned behind the grill on the right side three holes up from the bottom. I wonder if the perforated grill design combined with the resonation off my desk’s surface might have been a slight hindrance to better performance.
Overall, the Braven 600 is a clever little product. It’s built-solid and for a small speaker it can give you big sound anywhere you go. Even if you discount the mic, as a wireless speaker and a battery charger alone it makes this multifunctional unit quite practical, functional and eye-catching too! Take it on the road, or just plunk it down on your desk and you can play your tunes while you charge your phone!
It will also make a great companion for the recently announced line of new Bluetooth enabled iPods once they hit the streets.
The Braven 600 retails for $149.99 and comes fully equipped with a 40” USB to micro USB cable, a 24” 3.5mm audio cable, a USB Wall Plug, Quickstart card and a satinized Carrying Bag. It’s available at Amazon.com and directly through Braven’s site.
Six Series Sister Speakers
The Braven 600 is actually part of Braven’s “SIX” series. It has 2 sisters; the Braven 625S ($179.99), shown above, is designed for the outdoors with a more rugged shock-absorbing exterior. It comes with a water resistant dry bag, an LED flashlight, lanyard and wall adapter. It also has a larger 1700mAh battery rated at 16 hours of continuous airplay.
The Braven 650 ($189.99) is much more characteristic of the 600. In addition, it features aptX lossless compression and AAC audio encoding for clearer sound and a larger 2000mAh battery for up to 20 hours of playback.
-Portable Sleek design
-Doubles as a charger
-Limited Stereo separation
-Average speakerphone quality
photos courtesy: Braven
Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.