REVIEWED: BEM wireless speaker band

It’s not a smart watch, but this wristable does offer convenient hands-free calling and music

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Simple brief

The BEM wireless speaker band is, as far as we know, unique, yet it’s a simple concept. It looks like a watch – albeit a rather chunky one – complete with a regular watch strap and a square clock-face. However, instead of telling the time, it presents a one-inch speaker. Connect the BEM to tablet via Bluetooth, and you’ve got hands-free music and – perhaps more usefully – hands-free calls.

Easy pairing

The BEM is easy to pair; pressing the main navigation button on the product’s right-hand side for about three seconds puts it into pairing mode (there’s a spoken instruction too, sadly). It’s then simple to locate from your phone’s Bluetooth settings menu; with Bluetooth switched-on, see Speaker Band in the list, and press to pair with it. The range is only about 20ft, so it works best when your smartphone is in your pocket. When it comes back into range – i.e. when you walk back towards your phone – a woman’s voice says ‘connecting’ in a muffly kind of way, with a few beeps either side, and it automatically re-pairs with your smartphone. That’s convenient, but does anyone want to hear a robot talking to them about technical activities? Not really. An LED light changing from orange to green would have been better.

Sound quality

Music doesn’t sound particularly good from the BEM. There is obviously no bass or low-frequency sound – there’s just no room – with only treble detail audible. However, that is not unexpected from such a small speaker, and in no way does it detract from the BEM. If you’re a fan of listening to podcasts or radio, the BEM makes a really convenient way of listening without having to take your phone out of your pocket frequently since there are navigational buttons on the side of the watch to skip back and forth between tracks, and pause all sound. Mind you, an earphones slot would have been really handy for office workers, too.

Hands-free calls

BEM is compatible with voice recognition apps, and it has both a built-in microphone and a call answer button (than main navigation button we used for pairing). Hands-free calls aren’t exactly crystal clear in quality, but they’re much better than using the built-in speaker on your smartphone.

Indoors gadget

Without the volume or fidelity for using outside, the BEM is best thought of as a device for using for hands-free calls and listening to dialogue, such as podcasts or interview recordings, while inside an office or hotel room. Available in black, white, blue, red, grey and green, the BEM weighs 60g and lasts for about six hours on a single charge (it’s refuelled via micro USB).

Price at time of review: US$49.95

Buy the BEM wireless speaker band