My friend recently bought a ~$20 portable speaker from a Walgreens. He didn’t care about audio quality, he just needed a louder speaker than what’s built into his smartphone in a pinch. I understand that point of view, but I couldn’t imagine sacrificing audio quality just to spend so little, as there are cheap speakers with serious sound out there.
So you can’t blame me for being wary of an unknown (to me) brand offering a Bluetooth speaker for under $30. However, I was happy to give it a shot.
Price: $25.99 (currently on Amazon)
Battery life: 5-6 hours (800 mAh)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.1, 3.5mm aux
Speakers: 2x 5W
Speakerphone capability: Yes
Charger: Micro USB
Dimensions: 240 mm x 62 mm x 41 mm
Where to buy: Amazon
The Inateck BP2001 Bluetooth speaker is a very interesting device. It’s going after quite a few use scenarios, acting as a regular speaker and as a phone/tablet stand at the same time. Yet it offers a really low price.
The front has a single button, allowing you to play and pause music and answer calls. It also has a few lights around the edge.
The back features a power switch, aux jack, and the micro USB port used for charging. Above that is a kickstand! That’s a cool feature to see in a speaker.
On top is a rubber channel. Yes, you can put your tablet into the slot at the top and flip out the kickstand to keep it stable. If that’s not the best way to watch video content on your tablet, I don’t know what is.
You’ll probably notice that I didn’t tell you where the volume buttons are. That’s because there aren’t any. You’re supposed to control volume using your device’s built in volume controls, which sounds a lot worse than it is. However, it’s a missing feature nonetheless and can get annoying.
Pairing the device couldn’t be easier. There is no pair button, it simply turns on in pairing mode unless a device connects to it. Very simple, very good.
This speaker is surprisingly well built. Most of the body is made out of gloss black plastic, but it’s as solid as can be. There isn’t a single squeak or creak to be found. The trim is well attached, the metal speaker grill doesn’t bend, and the rubber at the top is of good quality. Even the kickstand on the back seems decently made. Honestly, this was very unexpected for the price.
The only issue with quality I experienced was the main button on the front. The brushed metal button is actually a sort of hard sticker, and it had come off in shipping. When I unpacked the speaker, the button was bare and this little plate had fallen off. I reattached it, and it hasn’t fallen off since (the adhesive was still fresh).
As I said before, I didn’t expect much from a $26 speaker. First turning it on, it very much surprised me. It’s fairly loud, the audio is very clear, and it sounds pretty dang nice! Turning it up all the way (with my phone) allows the speaker to fill a medium size room easily.
It also doesn’t distort at full volume listening to most types of music. Blasting complicated music like symphonic music distorts it a little, but turn it down a notch and the distortion is gone. This seems to be a common thing among speakers.
Does it sound fantastic? No, of course not. It’s not all that loud and lacks any sort of bass. But for $26, I was shocked. Speakers at this price point just aren’t supposed to sound so good. It’s fairly balanced, not at all tinny, and just sounds nice.
The rated battery life for this speaker is around 5-6 hours. This is about average for the smaller Bluetooth speakers, though there are plenty that get more battery life in a smaller package. Of course, you’ll pay for that extra battery life. And while 5-6 hours isn’t bad by any means, it’s a tad low for those who use the speaker a lot. Still, this speaker will last as long as it’s advertised.
This speaker comes with speakerphone capabilities, something usually reserved for more expensive speakers. The audio is clear on my end, though callers reported the mic being a bit quiet. It’s definitely usable, but you’ll have to speak up a bit. It’s handy to have the built in mic though.
The channel at the top and the kickstand make for a wonderful stand for your tablet. When you want to watch some YouTube or Netflix on your tablet at your desk (and I do this quite often), this is the perfect solution and is far more elegant than a Bluetooth speaker behind the tablet or to the side of it. Not only is it a good idea, it was very well executed.
For the Inateck BP2001 Bluetooth speaker, it all boils down to bang for your buck. For $26, you’re getting a LOT of bang. It sounds very good, the audio is clear and balanced, the battery lasts a decent amount of time, and the thing doubles as a tablet stand for media consumption.
It has its flaws, probably due to the low price point. It has no volume controls, forcing you to use your device volume, the battery could last longer, and I’m unsure about how well the center button will hold up after a lot of use. These points, especially the last two, are entirely negated by just how cheap this speaker is.
If you’re looking for a cheap Bluetooth speaker to lug around and share media with friends, this is the perfect speaker. It won’t sound like crap like most speakers sold at your local Walgreens, and it won’t break the bank. I definitely recommend it.