March 22, 2013, 7:09 AM — It's been about six months since I reviewed five mobile Bluetooth speakers to see how well they compared. These lightweight speakers were meant to make up for the awful sound quality provided by most smartphones and tablets (and many laptops, for that matter). They ranged widely in size, price and quality -- some were great for tossing in your coat pocket, while others had the chops to offer fine audio at home.
Well, there's a whole new crop that has become available since then. For this roundup, I've gathered four recently introduced mobile Bluetooth speakers to see how they compare.
Four speakers on a tabletop: a red one (Beats Pill), a black one (Jabra Solemate), a blue one (Native Union Switch) and a green one (Carbon Audio Zooka).
These four devices are much more similar to each other than the others. To begin with, they fall into a narrower price range: from $100 to $200.
In addition, all claim up to a 30-foot range between the speaker and the music source; in informal testing, that was pretty much borne out. All include the ability to also act as a speakerphone, should somebody call while you're playing music -- and all were able to do so in my tests, although the quality of the audio differed.
Interestingly, while their basic designs are quite different, all four speakers come in the bright mono-colors that seem to be in vogue these days. I have to admit that this made it far too easy to refer to each not by its name, but by its color -- "red speaker, "green speaker," "black speaker" and "blue speaker" -- making the testing process sound a bit like a Dr. Seuss recitation.
(All four give you a choice of which color you want, from the Solemate, which comes in black or white, to the Zooka, which lets you opt for one of nine different colors.)
To test the sound quality of these four speakers, I listened to a variety of music tracks, including: