Grace Digital EcoXGear EcoEdge Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

February 2020

Portable Bluetooth speakers come in all sizes and shapes, but Grace Digital has come up with a unique design for its EcoEdge model -- basically, a square box with big, protruding, squared-off corners that Grace calls bumpers. In Grace’s ads, the EcoEdge’s main selling point is its claimed toughness, and it looks the part -- like a bulldog pup. At $79.99 USD, it might well appeal to a user who wants a small, virtually indestructible Bluetooth speaker but isn’t picky about sound quality.

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Tribit StormBox Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

January 2020

Two months ago I gave very high marks to Tribit’s MaxSound Plus speaker. The young company then sent me a review sample of their StormBox, which conclusively proves that the MaxSound Plus was no fluke. Tribit makes quality compact Bluetooth speakers that sound good and cost a lot less than the competition -- in this case, $65.99 USD.

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Grace Digital EcoXGear EcoPebble Lite Bluetooth Speaker

December 2019

Experience has taught me that, no matter how small their Wi-Fi, waterproof, and/or Bluetooth speakers may be, Grace Digital consistently lavishes on their design and manufacture the same high level of care and quality. The EcoPebble Lite ($39.99 USD) is their next-to-least-expensive EcoXGear speaker, after the even-smaller EcoDrop ($29.99) -- the two smallest models in the ExoXGear line. But don’t sneeze at this little guy. As Grace CEO Greg Fadul puts it, the EcoPebble Lite is “tiny but mighty.” I decided to put it through its paces.

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Tribit MaxSound Plus Bluetooth Speaker

November 2019

Reviewers' ChoiceBluetooth-enabled portable speakers have advanced to the point that we’re no longer amazed when such small boxes produce such big sound. Tribit has now upped the ante with a real speaker priced lower than any I’ve seen, and sold through ($55.99 USD).

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Harman/Kardon Citation One Wi-Fi Speaker

October 2019

Other than its AC power connection, the latest and smallest member of Harman/Kardon’s Citation line of Wi-Fi speakers is truly wireless. You can send it music via a Chromecast-enabled app, Bluetooth, or Google Assistant -- it has no input of any kind for a wired device. The Citation One seems a bit pricey at $199.95 USD, but Amazon and other dealers offer significant discounts -- even Harman/Kardon currently sells it for $159.95.

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JBL PartyBox 300 Bluetooth Speaker

September 2019

JBL’s mammoth PartyBox 300 speaker is aptly named. It stands 27”H x 13”W x 12.7”D, weighs 34 pounds, plays really loud, and has microphone and guitar inputs for karaoke. Two PartyBoxes can be set up for stereo, and the LEDs that encircle its woofers light up with an impressive show of mesmerizing color patterns. It’s physically imposing -- but does it justify its price of $449.95 USD?

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Kanto Tuk Powered Loudspeakers

August 2019

It’s refreshing to see a speaker system that has a model name instead of a number. The Tuk ($799.99/pair USD) comes from the Canadian company Kanto Distribution Inc., and is named for Tuktoyaktuk, a remote village on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, where the aurora borealis is particularly spectacular.

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Grace Digital EcoXGear EcoTrek Bluetooth Speaker

July 2019

Reviewers' ChoiceI remember when Grace Digital launched their first EcoXGear model -- a small, waterproof Bluetooth speaker. Now the line has swollen to more than 20 speakers of all sizes and prices, and something for everyone. One of the most recent is the mighty EcoTrek ($229.99 USD). Weighing 19.2 pounds and measuring 17”H x 15”W x 10.2”D, it falls midway between the EcoBoulder ($249.99) and the EcoXplorer ($169.99), both of which I’ve reviewed -- but the EcoTrek is the only stereo model of those three. Or you can link two EcoTreks, set up as much as 30’ apart, for two-speaker stereo.

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JBL Link 300 Voice-Activated Wi-Fi Speaker

June 2019

With the increasing popularity of voice-activated speakers, JBL offers its Link series, now five models strong. The two smaller models, the Link 10 ($149.95, all prices USD) and Link 20 ($199.95), use rechargeable batteries, whereas the Link 300 ($249.95) and its bigger brother, the Link 500 ($399.95), must be plugged into the wall. There is also the Link View ($249.95), which includes an 8" high-definition screen. All include Google Assistant -- the speaker stays put, and you become the portable part of the system.

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Audioengine 512 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

May 2019

Reviewers' ChoiceAudioengine, based in Austin, Texas, specializes in computer, bookshelf, and wireless speakers that have been praised for their natural sound. The 512 is their first portable Bluetooth speaker. As Brady Bargenquast, a founder of Audioengine, put it to me: “The goal was to use familiar industrial design cues for the size and shape, but to best the competition with the sound. So we voiced the 512 as we’ve tuned other Audioengine products, with the main challenges being battery play time, the full-range micro driver designs, and cabinet acoustics (and cost of course).”

Ah, but does the 512 meet those goals?

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