The best portable Bluetooth speaker yet? A suction cup & bike mount are mere novelties on this great-sounding gadget that’s waterproof, easy to pack and even has a tripod thread
‘Essential for festivals’, ‘great for the pool’ are ‘ideal garden companion’ are just a view of the dreamed-up scenarios that get fired TravGear’s way each Spring as a new batch of Bluetooth speakers are unleashed. And it’s all a bit pointless – what self-respecting traveller would take a bulky speaker around the globe? What’s wrong with the far more compact earphones? The Airbeat-10 changes that principally by being very small.
Weighing just 156g, the 45x78x87 Airbeat-10 is made from rubberised silicon with a small black handle on the top that is sadly too small to get any fingers underneath. On the side is the on/off switch, volume rockers, and a tiny microphone, while on the bottom is a micro USB slot for recharging, and a 3.5 mm jack for attaching it non-wirelessly to a phone or tablet. After making a rather irritating sound both when turned on, and when entering Bluetooth pairing mode a few seconds later, the Airbeat-10 proves very simple to attach to from a phone. Another shrill tone confirms it was all successful. We’re in.
Suction cup & tripod thread
Sound quality is good. It’s a tad low on bass frequencies and mid-range, but there’s a lot more quality than we expected emanating from the tiny 3.5W mono speaker. If you’re planning on listening to the radio or podcasts, it’s perfect. Anything bigger would be overkill. However, the Airbeat-10 does have a rather pointless add-on; the suction cup. It screws-on to the back, but when stuck on a window or fridge the bass doesn’t exactly start bouncing. We were fine as we were. However, the provision of that 2.5-inch tripod thread does mean that the Airbeat-10 could be mounted on a tripod, which could be much more useful if, say, you’re planning a campfire but no-one brought a guitar. Business users will love its speakerphone function, too.
Also key to the Airbeat-10’s design is its splash-proof design. It’s IPX4 rated, for weather resistance, and you’d have to be pretty unlucky to get this gadget ruined by water; the only two ins/outs are shielded by a rubber flap, and the mic is tiny. However, there are some suggestions that the metallic parts of the Airbeat-10 are susceptible to rust. Accessories are good; an audio jack and microUSB-USB cable are both provided in two-tone orange and black, and in travel-friendly 28cm sizes. It’s possible to charge-up the Airbeat-10 while it plays music, though sadly the 500mAh battery only lasts about five hours, which isn’t much. It’s available in black, red, white and blue.
We’ll ignore the final, rather irresponsible accessory – a bike mount (seriously? Bluetooth tomfoolery on a bike when you should be looking at the road?) – and instead concentrate on the Airbeat-10’s all-round spec. Great value at less than 25 quid and enough for most travellers, the splash-proof Airbeat-10 easily justifies a place in the luggage of music lovers who want to share.