The Beatbox Portable is the latest addition to the Beats by Dr. Dre speaker line-up. Can you believe that the original Beatbox was released back in 2010? Damn… were does the time go?! Well, with time comes advancements and improvements, and that is exactly what the Beatbox Portable delivers. It may not be a replacement to the more powerful Beatbox, but the Beatbox Portable improves upon the subtleties that original Beatbox lacked. That includes Bluetooth connectivity, easy portability and even crisper sound.
If the Beatbox Portable looks familiar, it is because it was just recently seen this past week on American Idol where Jimmy Iovine was found mentoring the finalists. It has also been featured in an AT&T commercial with Jordin Sparks. So it looks like the Beatbox Portable is being setup to be the next big success for the audio brand.
The design of the Beatbox Portable takes many of cues from its older brother the Beatbox, but it has its own special unique touches as well. For instance, there is not one, but two carry handles on each side of the speaker. The original Beatbox had only one grip handle at the very top of the speaker box. This speaker grill on the Beatbox Portable wraps the entire front of the Beatbox Portable, even on the handles. It also doesn’t feel flimsy this time around either. Furthermore, in comparison to the original Beatbox, the footprint has considerably shrank and is much lighter – truly making this Beatbox – portable.
There are just three buttons on the Beatbox Portable, versus just the volume dial and power button on the original Beatbox. The buttons on the Portable are touch sensitive, and even though they give the illusion that they can be pressed in, they actually can’t, and are only activated by the light tap of your finger. The included remote is where more controls for the Beatbox Portable can be found. However, Bluetooth pairing can only be done from the speaker itself and not from the remote. More on that later.
One big difference between both Beatbox versions is that Portable has the ability to be powered by 6 “D” Cell batteries, truly completing the whole portable concept. Just flip the speaker over and unscrew the battery cover with a coin, and slip in the those behemoth batteries. Unfortunately, the batteries aren’t included, and that is definitely a bummer considering D batteries are pretty pricey. The lifespan of the D batteries varies depending on use, but if you forget the power cord, there is always the chance your party could be over before it starts, if you don’t stock up on extra batteries. In any case, we would have preferred it if they had gone with a rechargeable battery altogether for the Beatbox Portable.
Overall the design of the Beatbox Portable will fit into most homes, offices, or at any party. However, because of its angular design, you will want to place it appropriately so that the acoustics in the room are perfect, and everyone can enjoy it the way it ought to be heard.
The Beatbox Portable delivers crisp highs and rich mids that present the thumping bass the Beats by Dre brand loves. The Portable packs in a 5.25 inch woofer along with a 3.5 MM input for other external audio sources. So not only can iPod / iPhone users take advantage of the speaker, but those with external devices can hook them up too. The sound produced out of the Beatbox Portable is loud and fills a room with a quality sound that will make your neighbors call the cops (because they are jealous that they don’t have one of course!). The bass is certainly present too, but not overwhelmingly so.
We also didn’t need to configure any EQ settings on our smartphones or MP3 players for the music to sound good on the Portable. We just let the Beatbox Portable do its job… and it did it VERY well. Adele, Depeche Mode, and Lana Del Rey all sound like they are sitting in the room with us. One caveat however, is that you really need to turn the volume up for the music to sound amazing. Fortunately, we turned the Portable wayyyy up, and there wasn’t a hiss, crackle, or distortion anywhere to be heard.
The Portable also shines even brighter with 320 kbps bit rate files. Higher quality files really bring the highs and mids out of the Beatbox Portable that will make you swoon. Also, to really appreciate this speaker, you will want to place it just in the right place in your home, office, or outdoors. Placing the speaker at your knees will give you a totally different listening experience than placing it higher up on a cabinet that is eye level or above you. Placement is truly key for enjoying the Beatbox Portable.
While the sound reproduced from the Beatbox Portable is pretty impressive when an iPhone/iPod is docked on the Portable, it also blew us away with how powerful it sounds as a Bluetooth speaker. Unfortunately, the Beatbox Portable doesn’t sport an Airplay capability, but it does stream music via Bluetooth with aplomb. And in order to pair the Portable with your device, just hold the power button on the speaker down for a few seconds, until all of the buttons flash red and then the Beatbox Portable is ready to be paired. The iPhone 4S, iPad, HTC Inspire, and a Windows Phone all found the Beatbox Portable within a few seconds and paired to it easily.
We have been streaming audio from a Spotify premium account on an iPhone in Extreme quality, and the tracks are flowing beautifully to the Beatbox Portable and sound amazing. Overall, streaming music via Bluetooth to the Beatbox Portable sounds as good as if the iPhone/iPod were docked, but obviously the docked device still sounds a bit richer and louder than streaming via Bluetooth but it certainly isn’t an overwhelming difference.
The Beatbox Portable might just have beaten its competition to a pulp. It’s stylish, easily portable, and it’s not only a great sounding iPhone/iPod dock, but it also shines as a Bluetooth speaker too! However, while the sound that was emanating from the Beatbox Portable is able to play loud and great, without distortion, it still lacks a bit of warmth that some other brands like the Philips Fidelio line and even Bose offer. It also doesn’t output extreme amounts of bass, and instead it tends to compliment the mids and highs supremely. That said, Beats by Dre critics will really have to dig to find fault with with the Beatbox Portable. The included remote is still a bit chintzy and lack of a full set of batteries is a disappointment considering the $399 price point. But anyone touting this beauty come the summer, will be quick to forgive that I’m sure. The Beatbox Portable is available in white and black and can be purchased online at AT&T.
The Good: Neat design, rich sound quality, not too bass heavy, pairs easily via Bluetooth, bluetooth streaming quality is excellent, smaller footprint, carry handles and lightweight design makes it easy to carry, really shines on higher bit rates.
The Bad: Remote is a bit cheap looking, no batteries included, placement is key to fill the room with sound, collects dirt and fingerprints easily, price is a bit high – but you know you want it any way.