It’s crazy just how much smartphones have changed things over the last 9 years. We went from carrying around a phone to carrying around a PC replacement for some as well as things like a camera. Even with everything that smartphones are capable of, we can still expand their reach with a few accessories. This is why our friend over at Verizon sell a whole variety of things in their store beyond phones and phone chargers. To give us an example they sent over a box with two new products they carry. Today I’m taking a look at the first of those two products, the Bose SoundLink Mini II. This is a small portable battery powered speaker from Bose. I’ve been testing it for a few weeks around the office and today I’m going to dive into its features and how it performed.
Product Name: Bose SoundLink Mini II
Review Samples Provided by: Verizon
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Amazon Links: Bose SoundLink Mini II
|Speaker||2" H x 7.1" W x 2.3" D (1.5 lbs)|
|Charging cradle||0.63" H x 6.2" W x 2" D (2.8 oz)|
|Wall charger||2.65" H x 1.9" W x 0.6" D|
Wireless range up to 30 ft (10 m)
Battery life up to 10 hrs
Power rating: 100 - 240V
3.5 mm auxiliary
|In the box||
SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth speaker II
So the Bose SoundLink Mini II is a small portable Bluetooth speaker. These have been really popular over the past few years. I’ve seen companies like Creative introduce a few different variations along with the trendy brands like Beats with their pill shaped speaker. Before diving into the speaker lets take a quick look at what comes in when you get one. The box has a white and blue theme with a photo of the speaker on the cover. On the back, they highlight its features with lines pointing to the feature location on the photo of the speaker and base. Inside the box, it has an interesting setup. The speaker is featured right up top, but all of the accessories come in a pull out drawer.
Inside you get the speaker of course. But in addition to that, they include the base, AC to USB adapter, and the USB charging cord. They also slip in a manual and a warranty book for documentation.
Photos and Features
The SoundLink Mini II is similar to the other models like the Dr. Dre Pill in size. This is much smaller than the Creative portable speaker I took a look at last year. Rather than go with something trendy like the pill design, Bose stuck with the same Bose style that they have always had. The small speaker is shaped similar to the Bose Wave, but the entire front of the device is covered in mesh with the Bose logo on it. Behind the mesh, the mini speaker has two small drivers for mids and highs on the left and right with a larger oval shaped driver in the middle for bass.
Up on top are the controls and for the most part, they are simple. You have the power button over on the left, to prevent it from getting bumped they have it recessed. The Bluetooth button is on the opposite side but recessed as well. Then in between are two volume controls and in the middle of the volume controls, there is a button with three dots on it. This is the multifunction button, it lets you control your music source and speakerphone calls.
The back of the SoundLink Mini II has the same mesh as the front, but without the Bose logo on it this time. With all of the speakers facing the front, this mesh is just decorative.
Then on the side of the SoundLink Mini II is has two ports. One is a micro USB that you can use to directly charge the speaker when you aren’t using the base and you can also use this to update the firmware on the speaker. The other port is a standard 2.5mm audio jack. You can use this to hook up your phone, tablet, or audio device to have a direct audio connection.
For charging you get a flip out AC adapter that has a single USB port on it. The bundled in Micro-USB cable runs from this to the charging dock. The dock fits the speaker perfectly and uses four small contact points to charge the SoundLink Mini II whenever it is sitting on it.
For performance testing of the Bose SoundLink Mini II, my testing was split up between three things. Ease of setup, audio performance, and overall usability. The first part of that testing, ease of setup, was simple to cover. Connecting to the SoundLink Mini II was as simple as making sure Bluetooth was turned on then holding the Bluetooth button on top of the speaker. I was connected and up and running within seconds.
For audio testing, I spent time listening to music on Pandora, flipping through all of my preferred genres. Then from there I connected my Creative Labs X7 to the phone as well and compared the performance of the phones speaker, the SoundLink Mini II, and the X7 with good speakers and a recently added powered subwoofer. It’s funny how having something to compare to helps in situations like this. The LG V10 has a halfway decent speaker of its own but the second I connected to the SoundLink Mini II I was blown away at the difference. I know that Bose has a reputation for being overpriced and not exactly amazing, but the SoundLink Mini II had great bass and really filled up the room to be sure though I flipped over to my office speaker setup over Bluetooth as well and once again had the same feeling. The way the SoundLink made me feel about the V10’s speaker, my office setup made the SoundLink Mini II sound completely inadequate.
Now let me be clear, comparing a small portable speaker to a $800+ setup isn’t fair at all. I just wanted to get a better idea of where the SoundLink Mini II fell. What I learned was that this small speaker than fits in my hand had amazing bass, good mids, and impressive highs. It filled up my office and should be more than powerful enough to take outside or on the go. But it’s not a replacement for a home setup. I would say that’s a fair tradeoff and frankly, I have a feeling a lot of people would still be happy with the SoundLink Mini II in their bedroom or office just as long as they never try to compare it to something more expensive like I did.
What about the overall experience? Well for one I love the decision to include a charging base. My Creative Labs portable speaker is great but I am really bad about forgetting to plug it and just about everything else in until the last second. Having the option to keep it on a dock so it is fully charged when you are ready better fits the idea of a portable speaker. The SoundLink Mini II is portable but not really small enough to fit in your pocket so make sure you leave room in your bag. It is, however, much smaller than the Creative Labs option and with that, it does leave more room for other things in your bag. The battery life was on point as well. Between having good battery life and the charging dock I never actually killed the battery. That is what portable is all about right? You can great it and go and never worry about if it’s going to work for what you need or if you need to charge it.
Overall and Final Verdict
So we set out to find out if the Bose SoundLink Mini II would be a good way to add more functionality and use to your mobile phone. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with the portable speaker. Bose has a bit of a reputation for being overpriced and underperforming with some people so when I turned up my music on the SoundLink Mini II and it filled up the room I wasn’t really expecting that, especially given its size. The SoundLink Mini II sounded great and was about half the size of the last portable speaker I took a look at. Even better was the easy to use charging dock that it came with. Being able to keep it charged up and ready to go increased the chances of me grabbing it and taking with me when going out. With its current price being about $180 the SoundLink Mini II does run you more than the Sound Blaster Roar 2 that I took a look at before. With a $30 difference between the two, I don’t think it’s THAT much more, especially when you are getting the charging dock. But I do think that price is too expensive for most people. Even the trendier Beats by Dre Pill is down in the $150 range as well. So while I do think having the SoundLink Mini II out for your 4th of July weekend would be convenient, I have a feeling people looking for a portable speaker option are going to look past it at better-priced options.
Live Pricing: HERE