Famed for its lofty prices, Bose maintained its reputation with the entry-level SoundTouch Portable Wi-Fi speaker, which happens to be the most expensive of the speakers featured here.
Like the Sonos Play 1, the SoundTouch Portable is wireless but uses Wi-Fi and not Bluetooth to stream music, so set-up is more complicated than a matter of pairing devices.
Installation requires a computer and micro-USB cable. Once the software is downloaded to the computer, you sync the speaker to your wireless network using the computer as the middle man.
Music can then be streamed from the computer's music library, iTunes or via network attached storage or NAS, though the NAS feature is still in beta testing.
For playback and pre-sets, you can use a remote control, or a smartphone app (Android or iOS). Users have to create an account and sign in. The app stores users' pre-set preferences in the cloud.
Both the smartphone and the SoundTouch Portable must be connected to the same network. Even so, Android smartphone users need to use a 3.5mm cable to link phone and speaker. For Apple users, there is AirPlay support.
Requiring Android users to use a cable might be a deal breaker for Android users, as it defeats the purpose of having wireless speakers.
The good news is that Bose has included a battery in the unit, so the speaker can be moved around.
It is easy to operate even without the remote. All buttons are laid out neatly on the top of the unit. A small display on the front shows which track is being played.
Audio quality is sharp and the music easily fills the room. The bass is rich, but at higher volumes, there is some crossover and music tends to be muffled and flat.
Additional features: Wi-Fi, music streaming, app
This article was first published on July 16, 2014.
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