Bang & Olufsen has done a, well, banged-up job with the Beoplay A1, a portable Bluetooth speaker designed by award-winning designer Cecilie Manz.
It looks good, feels premium, and sounds good - a difficult trinity to accomplish, but the Danish company has a track record of releasing products that is as much about selling a lifestyle as about the gadget itself.
The Beoplay A1 comes in two colours - moss green and natural aluminium - and both look very modern, sleek and chic. The speaker's aluminium dome with a rounded speaker grate, with sturdy rubber side and surface, oozes class and ruggedness.
The slightly rotund speaker is about the size of an Ice Hockey puck, and it feels amazingly solid and premium in your hands. A further touch of refinement comes in the form of an elegant leather strap attached to its side.
You turn it on by pressing the rubber buttons on the side, which feel a bit stiff initially.
This means you have to apply a bit more force to turn it on, or activate the Bluetooth for your first sync.
Once that's done and you have your mobile phone or MP3 player synced up (the pairing-up process is fast and simple), the real fun begins.
The Beoplay A1's sound is deep and rich across all spectrums, with a robust soundscape that easily fills a bedroom at medium volume. Impressively, the audio stays crisp and clear even as I cranked it up.
The lowest bass notes are reproduced superbly. I can feel the table surface the speaker is on rumble with bass-heavy songs. It performs exceedingly well for a speaker its size.
At 600g, the Beoplay A1 feels rather hefty, but its heft reinforces the solid sense of construction. Nevertheless, it is still light enough to slip into a bag and carry around for outdoor parties or a picnic.
The rechargeable 2200mAh battery provides enough juice for almost 20 hours of audio playback, and it turns off automatically after 15 minutes of non-usage.
If the speaker is synced to your mobile phone, you can also use it as a loudspeaker to make and receive calls. The speaker has a mic to pick up your voice, but the sound quality on the other end tends to be quite muddy and muffled.
The Beoplay A1 does not come cheap. At $399, you can buy a decent wired audio setup. But the A1's portability and form factor make it an ideal go-to when you need music on-the-go, and look good while doing so.
DRIVERS: 3.5-inch aluminium cone and 3/4-inch dome tweeter
BATTERY: Rechargeable 2,200mAh
BATTERY LIFE: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
Verdict: A handsome, classy speaker that looks good and sounds good - but at a premium price.
This article was first published on May 18, 2016.
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