Once a high-end item reserved to brands like Jawbone and Bose, portable Bluetooth speakers are now virtually everywhere. With hundreds of options flying out of Chinese warehouses, however, the trick these days is finding a speaker that offers a good blend of quality and price, and we’ve found one from Inateck: the BTSP-10 Plus.
We’ve reviewed a few USB chargers from Inateck in the past and walked away with a favorable impression, so we were curious to see how well the German company could transition into the audio market. After spending a few weeks with the BTSP-10 Plus, we’re happy to report that decent quality Bluetooth audio is now more affordable than ever. Read on for our full review.
Design & Specifications
The design of the BTSP-10 Plus is instantly familiar to users of other popular Bluetooth speakers, such as the Jawbone Jambox. Its rectangular shape measures 6.5 inches wide, 2.4 inches tall, and 2 inches deep, with a weight of 13.75 ounces (390 grams), making it easily portable with just the right amount of heft.
A black rubber-like coating surrounds the the speaker, giving it good grip and resistance to scratches, while the front speaker grille hides two 1.5-inch speakers behind a red mesh with hexagonal accents. Also on the front is small light that glows blue and red, indicating battery levels and pairing status.
On top, you’ll find a Bluetooth pairing button and volume controls, while the right side features the power switch, aux input, and micro-USB port, which is used to charge the device via the included USB cable. The auxiliary input lets users connect devices that aren’t Bluetooth-enabled, such as an iPod or game console.
The speaker utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 which, coupled with its 2100 mAh battery, gives it advertised playing time of between 9 and 15 hours, depending on volume and audio characteristics.
Lower-priced gadgets usually omit everything other than the bare minimum, but the BTSP-10 Plus surprisingly includes everything you need to get started, including the aforementioned USB cable for charging, a 3.5mm audio cable for connecting devices to the auxiliary input, a short instruction manual, and a nice felt drawstring carrying case.
Usage & Sound Quality
Pairing the BTSP-10 Plus to your Bluetooth-enabled device is just as easy as most other Bluetooth speakers. Just press and hold the Bluetooth button on the top of the speaker until you hear a beep and see the front indicator light begin to flash, indicating that the speaker is now in pairing mode. Then, head to your device’s Bluetooth settings, look for “Inateck BTSP-10” and select it to complete the pairing process. We tested pairing the speaker to an iPhone 6 Plus, Kindle Fire HD, 2014 MacBook Pro, and 2013 Mac Pro. In all cases, the BTSP-10 Plus paired without a problem.
While connected, you can change the speaker’s volume either with the native volume controls of your device or via the buttons on the speaker itself. One minor annoyance, however, is that when the volume is maxed out by pressing the buttons on the speaker, any playing audio momentarily stops in order for the device to transmit a beep, signifying that the maximum volume level had been reached. It’s not a huge issue, but it’s a bit annoying if you’re trying to quickly increase the volume in the middle of your favorite song.
Overall sound quality is very good for the speaker’s size and price. High frequencies are clear and bright, although perhaps too bright for the tastes of some users. Bass is noticeable, but not as good as the Jambox or JBL Pulse, for example. The BTSP-10 Plus also gets reasonably loud at maximum volume without much distortion. It’s not loud enough to fill a large room or provide good sound in an open outdoor area, but it easily filled the 200-square-feet testing room in our office, and would be well suited to provide music to a smaller outdoor gathering, such as sitting around a picnic table.
We didn’t quite hit the advertised 15 hours of maximum playback time during our testing, but in mixed use of music, movies, and audiobooks, we managed to get about 11 hours of playback before the battery warning indicators sounded. While longterm tests are required to determine how well the battery holds up over time, it’s clear that, at least out of the box, the BTSP-10 Plus should be able to provide audio playback for most occasions on a single charge. Unlike some Bluetooth devices, the BTSP-10 Plus also works while plugged in to power via USB, letting you use the speaker indefinitely as a companion to a home PC or Mac.
The thing to keep in mind when evaluating a product like the BTSP-10 Plus is that you’re not looking for pure quality, but rather the best quality for the price. The BTSP-10 Plus isn’t even close to being the best Bluetooth speaker from a pure quality standpoint — the Jambox Mini, Bose Soundlink Mini, and JBL Pulse all sound better in our opinion — but at $50, the Inateck BTSP-10 Plus is a quarter of the cost of many of its competitors.
Portable Bluetooth speakers are meant to travel, particularly outdoors, and the BTSP-10 Plus’s low price means you won’t be apprehensive about actually using the speaker as it was intended. Its durable design also makes it more capable than many of its competitors at holding up to drops and repeated trips in a travel bag. Couple that with sufficiently good sound, and you’ve got a winner. You won’t be doing any critical audiophile-grade listening on the BTSP-10 Plus, but you’ll be able to enjoy loud, clear audio anywhere you need it.
The Inateck BTSP-10 Plus is available now via Amazon for $50.