Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II review: The original SoundLink wireless mobile It came out in 2011 and received an Editors’ Choice Award from CNET because at the time of its release it offered best-in-class performance from a compact and stylish Bluetooth speaker.
The new SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II, which looks virtually identical to the original model, includes new neodymium transducers and an updated digital signal processing algorithm that gives the speaker slightly better sound. These changes, plus a tweak to the design of the integrated protective cover / stand (available in leather or nylon) and the system’s ability to remember up to six devices for automatic pairing, are the key updates. In short, Bose has slightly improved an excellent portable speaker. But the landscape has changed, with competition in the realm of high-end Bluetooth speakers now fiercer than ever, with products like $ 300. Jawbone Big Jambox.
As I mentioned in my review of the original SoundLink Wireless Mobile, Bose seems to have taken some design cues from Apple: Along with the compact shape and clean, sleek design, the unit comes with a combined magnetic protective cover and stand. which automatically turns off the speaker when closed. Unsurprisingly, Bose sells additional nylon and leather covers in a wider variety of colors for $ 30 and $ 50, respectively, in case you want to make a change later.
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As the, the cover of the SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile II is available in two grades: nylon and leather. But you only get leather cover from the start if you upgrade to the higher-end version of the speaker, which costs $ 50 more and has what the company calls an “automotive-grade” chrome trim.
As I said, both versions of the cover have been slightly redesigned. The cover now folds in half (has a “bi-fold” design). Instead of flipping the entire cover over to convert it into a stand, flip the cover over and fold it in half (you can also extend the entire cover without folding it – it also works well as a stand in that setup). I assume Bose chose the new cover design so that they can support the speaker in tighter spaces without the stand extending back those few extra inches. Either way, I liked the change and think it gives you a little more flexibility when it comes to positioning without sacrificing stability.
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Let’s now turn to the speaker itself. The first thing you notice when you pick it up is that although it may be small, it does have some weight, weighing in at 2.78 lbs. It is 5 inches tall, 9.5 inches wide and 1.9 inches thick.
That depth – or lack thereof – is truly the most impressive part of the design. But while the SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile II speaker looks elegant, perhaps even a little dainty, and would seem more suitable for indoor listening, Bose was keen to emphasize how durable and sturdy the unit is. The company claims to have extensively tested the product and even placed it in a chamber and exposed to simulated salt spray. So, yes, this is designed to be a portable and outdoor product.
Like its predecessor, the speaker has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that’s rated for 3 to 4 hours of high-volume use between charges and double that at moderate volume levels. (If the battery runs out, a replacement battery is available through Bose Customer Service for $ 59.95.)
Sadly, Bose didn’t increase battery life by switching to version 2.0 of the speaker – it’s still well below the Big Jambox’s rated battery life (15 hours). The battery life of the Bose is more on par with the Apple AirPlay portable speakers I’ve reviewed – and yes, Bose now also makes an AirPlay unit, the SoundLink Air, which starts at $ 349.
The Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II has a wireless range of about 30 feet (I managed over 40 feet) and works with any Bluetooth A2DP-enabled device, which includes nearly all smartphones and most tablets, including the iPad. On the back you’ll find a standard 3.5mm audio input for connecting (via an included cable) any other audio device that doesn’t offer Bluetooth, like an iPod Classic, for example.
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I had no problem pairing an iPhone 4S, a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, and an iPad Mini with the speaker. Simply press and hold the Bluetooth button on the top of the speaker and go into pairing mode. After selecting “Bose SoundLink Wireless” from the Bluetooth setup menu on your phone or other device, after a few seconds you should be wirelessly connected to the speaker and be able to stream audio to it.
Overall, the connection was pretty stable, but I ran into some occasional hiccups. It was an instructive reminder that Bluetooth, like all wireless technology, doesn’t have the 100% reliability of a wired connection.
The SoundLink Wireless Mobile does not offer hands-free functionality like, for example, the Jawbone Big Jambox. Could it someday offer that feature? Alas, no, considering there is no built-in microphone that I am aware of. However, there is a Micro-USB port on the back of the speaker labeled “service”, which is for firmware updates; Bose says it will offer software updates to make sure the speaker is compatible with future phones.
We should also remember that the SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker does not come with a remote control. This is because you shouldn’t need it as you’ll be able to control the volume – and everything in between – from your smartphone.