Logitech's Bluetooth Mini Boombox offers small size, low price, and underwhelming sound quality
Logitech's $100 Mini Boombox is certainly tiny, as intended. Like the Jawbone Jambox ( ), the Mini Bookbox is a Bluetooth speaker designed to be supremely portable. Unlike the Jambox, Logitech's portable speaker emphasizes low price over audio quality.
The eight-ounce unit measures 4.3 inches wide, 2.5 inches deep, and 2.3 inches tall. The top of the unit looks shiny-black when the Mini Boombox is turned off, but six touch-sensitive buttons (Previous, Play/Pause, Next, Volume Down, Bluetooth/Phone, and Volume Up) appear when the unit is powered on. However, the backlight that illuminates the buttons shuts off after about twenty seconds; to get the display to light up again, you must tap near the center of the button panel. A slightly raised nub makes the spot easier to find—you just slide your finger around until you feel the nub, and then tap. Unlike the iPhone's screen, the Mini Boombox's touch-control area is ideal for showing greasy fingerprints.
Pairing the Mini Boombox with your iOS device or Mac is a snap. The system enters pairing mode when you first turn it on, or when you hold down the Bluetooth button for a few seconds. I successfully paired the unit with a smattering of iOS devices, along with my Mac. (Note, however, that you can pair the unit only with a single device at a time.) On the back of the unit sits a sliding power switch, a mini-USB port for charging, and a 1/8-inch (3.5mm) stereo line-in jack for connecting another audio source.
Logitech says that the Mini Boombox’s internal battery should last for ten hours of normal usage, which seems reasonable based on my experience; the unit takes about four hours to charge using the included mini-USB adapter. Frustratingly, however, there’s no way to determine your current charge level. The Logitech button on the unit’s face glows blue when the system is fully charged, and turns red when you enter the low-battery danger zone, but there’s no indicator when you’re anywhere in between.
The Mini Boombox’s audio is decent, and certainly better than the built-in speaker on your iOS device. But I heard frequent distortion at medium or louder volume levels, and bass presence is negligible. The unit simply can’t pull off the shocking sound-quality-for-the-size surprise that devices such as the aforementioned Jawbone Jambox and the Soundmatters FoxL v2 Bluetooth ( ) showcase. Even at its best, the Mini Boombox's audio sounds a bit tinny. On the other hand, I was impressed by the volume levels the Mini Boombox could generate; it’s certainly able to fill a small room, as long as you don’t mind the inevitable distortion that accompanies louder volumes.
The Mini Boombox also includes a built-in microphone that lets you use the device as a speakerphone. While you can’t place a call from the speaker, you can answer calls by tapping the Bluetooth button. (You can of course initiate a call from your iPhone and then switch the call audio to the Mini Boombox.) While testing the system's phone performance, I could hear folks fine, although they reported that while the experience was passable, I sounded a bit quiet and echo-y—it was obvious I was on a speakerphone.
Macworld’s buying advice
I recommend the Mini Boombox only if you need its tiny size and aren't willing to spend more for something like the Jambox or FoxL—each of which provides far better sound quality and call performance. (I've seen the Jambox on sale for as little as $150.) If you want good sound quality for $100, you'll likely need to forego Bluetooth and opt for speakers with a wired or dock-connector connection.