Samsung has worked their way into yet another popular market: portable bluetooth speakers. The new Samsung Level Box is a beautiful looking portable Bluetooth speaker with a 15 hour battery, NFC pairing, and built-in speakerphone. Samsung knows how to market, but do they know how to build a portable speaker? Read on to see how it stacks up.
The Samsung Level Box is clean, attractive, sophisticated, and relatively conservative looking. It’s a grey rectangular speaker that’s almost entirely speaker grille and has a mostly metal body. The top has a really nice brushed metal finish with four flush control buttons. There’s a sneaky LED behind the mesh grille that displays battery and pairing status. On the back there’s a couple ports, a bluetooth button, and an on-off switch.
It’s a very basic design that’s slightly on the larger side of portable speakers. It’s only six inches wide, but it’s close to two pounds in heft. There’s a weighted base that’s supposed to add stability for improved audio performance. The tough metal construction should make it pretty durable.
Yay for standard micro-USB charging. The Level Box comes with a micro-USB cable and wall charger. The battery lasts about 15 hours, which is awesome. The one weird thing with our model (it’s a demo model) is that it doesn’t like to go into standby; it consistently beeps if there’s no music playing. Considering the large battery, it’s unfortunate you can’t share it with other USB devices, as a lot of speakers can now do.
There’s an auxiliary cable input on the back so you can play music from any device. Bluetooth pairing is just as easy as anything you’ve ever paired, and it’s even easier if you have an NFC-enabled device. On the top of the speaker is a play/pause button, volume buttons, and a “SoundAlive” button that toggles a sound equalizer. SoundAlive mode gives off a richer and fuller audio experience. There’s a built-in microphone so you can use Level Box as a speakerphone. It works quite well.
The feature lineup is pretty good, not anything too special, and that’s kind of how the audio quality is too. We’re audio snobs, so we’ll preface this by saying: Level Box sounds great if you don’t have much to compare against. Of course, it’s not a set of bookshelf speakers, and it’s a really nice step up from your iPhone speaker, laptop speaker, and maybe even TV speaker. Compared to other similarly priced speakers on the market, Level Box doesn’t sound especially clear or crisp. It can sound kind of muddy at regular volumes. The SoundAlive feature helps get some extra oomph and clarity out of the music. It’s an almost always preferable feature, but it also lowers the volume a bit. The Level Box doesn’t even get crazy loud (party loud), though it will fill any room with music. The bass is just okay — you can hear it much more than you can feel it, which gives the audio a more unnatural sound.
Considering this is one of Samsung’s first portable bluetooth speakers on the market, it’s a good start. The build is durable, the design is pleasing, the battery life is fantastic, the bluetooth range is solid, and NFC pairing is always nice. Plus, it doubles as a speakerphone with the built-in microphone. Unfortunately, we weren’t as impressed with the audio quality, which can be a deal breaker. It’s also a bit too hefty if you plan on traveling with it. The Samsung Level Box is currently available from Amazon.com for $152.99 in black, or $169.99 (full retail price) in white.Buy it!
The Good: Premium-looking design, Durable, Easy to use, 15 hour battery life, NFC Pairing, Built-in Speakerphone
The Bad: Heavy, Audio quality is just okay for the size and price