Review: SoundWave SW100 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

As for many other people, my phone has become my go-to device for all my mobile entertainment needs. I currently have a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (yeah, the one with the ludicrously large screen), so it’s great for anything from internet browsing to watching films in HD quality. I also use it as an MP3 player and for listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

I recently started looking around for a portable speaker that I could take on my occasional travels and, not to put too fine a point on it, use in the bathroom. Surely I’m not the only one that likes to listen to audio books while I shower?

The Note 2 isn’t, er, noted for its high quality speakers. Very few smartphone manufacturers have been able to complete with Apple on this front. But even the mighty built-in speakers of an iPhone struggle to compete with the noise of my geyser-like shower or electric shaver.

As Dummy will tell you, I’m a bit of a tightwad when it comes to my technology purchases, so I was looking for a device that could combine the impossible requirements of sound quality, power and cheapness. I wanted the convenience of connecting by Bluetooth, with the option of a 3.5mm socket for greater flexibility.

Having considered many products and read a lot of reviews, the device I settled for was this, the SoundWave SW100:

Rear view

Rear view

Here are some vital statistics:

  • Small – about three inches tall
  • Reasonably light – I haven’t put it on the scales, but it feels about the same weight as my Note 2 + case
  • Loud – I can’t find any official information on wattage, but when I turned it up to max in my small kitchen, it was louder than I could tolerate; at that point, there was some mild distortion
  • Built-in microphone – theoretically you can therefore use this device for conference calls; I have not tried this, but for the sound alone it can only be better than putting your phone into speaker mode
  • A claimed 10 hours music/talk time
  • A claimed 800 hours standby time – I’m not sure what use this figure is though; I’ll either be using it or charging it

Out of the box, the speaker was fully charged in less than an hour. It comes with a microUSB cable for this purpose. For my first trial, I took it into my company’s noisy server room. About 80% volume was sufficient to hear music clearly and without distortion, over the cacophony of fans and aircon.

It paired over Bluetooth without fuss. I have noticed the occasional blip when playing through Bluetooth, but I think this is more likely to be down to the phone (of which I demand a lot!) than to the speaker. In any event, you can use a 3.5mm audio cable (supplied) if you prefer.

SoundWave SW100 and matThe speaker has a non-slip base, great for most surfaces. The manufacturers have thoughtfully included an additional non-slip mat, making the speaker very unlikely to budge during normal usage. The non-slip mat also slightly neutralises the effect of resonance transmitted through the surface on which you place the speaker. Unless you’re an audiophile (I confess I’m not), this probably won’t mean a lot, but for some, it will be important.

For the size of the speaker, I was impressed by the bass response. In fact this was one of the reasons I bought the speaker – to improve bass experience, without having to lug around a sub woofer and without having to spend thousands on a high-end miniaturised speaker system.

Build quality is good. The case is mainly brushed aluminium, and not unattractive. It passed the spouse test; no exclamations of,”Oh how hideous! What horrendous technological monstrosity is that?!”

SoundWave SW100 mic and buttonThere are two controls. First, there’s a button labelled with a phone symbol, for answering calls and setting up the initial pairing. Secondly there’s an on-off switch. There’s an LED to indicate connection status and charging status and there’s a microphone port along with the USB charging port and 3.5mm audio socket.

I paid £20 for the speaker. Although at one time it was available for less, it is still a bargain at this price. It receives favourable reviews (wherever you look) and I can only confirm what other reviewers are saying. Well worth the money, especially when you consider you can pay four times the price for a product that may have a pretty label but is otherwise no better.

Entirely up to you, but you can pick one up from Amazon here, or from eBay,

Geek rating
Ease of use www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
BlueTooth synced very easily. There’s an off/off switch. Simples.
Features www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
It has no on-board track control buttons and lacks the ability to daisy-chain other speakers. Higher-quality speakers may handle bass better, but that’s being very nitpicking.
Value for money www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
It competes well with speakers three times its price.
Build Quality www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Very solid. Has survived several downward lunges!
Overall www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
If you want a portable speaker, on the go, don’t mind that the output is mono, and don’t expect the sound to fill a concert hall, this is the device for you. Highly recommended.



4 / 5 stars     


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9 Comments

  1. Roisin June 12, 2013 10:33 pm  Reply

    can you plug a phone into this speaker somehow or can you just play music only from bluetooth?

    • Geek June 17, 2013 8:23 am  Reply

      Hi,

      You can plug this speaker into anything that has an audio jack. It has a 3.5mm input socket.

      Hope this helps!

      Geek

  2. jonathan smith July 27, 2013 7:56 am  Reply

    Hi Geek, this portable Bluetooth speaker you have specified in your post, is really awesome. I also have the same piece in my music speaker collection because i love to listen music with high volume. recently i got information over the internet about a speaker that i would like to share with you; http://www.qacoustics.co.uk/2020i-stereo-speaker.htm. This particular product impressed me a lot.

    • Geek July 29, 2013 9:58 am  Reply

      Hi,

      Thanks for the response. The speakers you refer to seem to sit in a very different segment of the market. I can’t find many reviews for them. Possibly at some point we will receive some test units for review, in which case we will be able to comment further.

      In the meantime, thanks for taking the time to comment here at Geek & Dummy!

      Geek

  3. B Willis December 31, 2013 4:21 pm  Reply

    Not. Clear to me that this speaker can be charged through mains supply with USB into adaptor plug

    • Geek January 16, 2014 1:25 pm  Reply

      You’re right, it can – that is the best way to charge it. You can also charge it from any standard (0.5A) USB port.

  4. Ceejay January 16, 2014 1:56 pm  Reply

    Can two of this speaker be used at the same time on one device? May be to create a surround effect.

    • Geek January 21, 2014 4:03 pm  Reply

      In theory, yes, but not over Bluetooth. You’d have to use a stereo splitter or something like that, to send one channel to each speaker via audio cables (with 3.5mm jacks).

  5. Geek & Dummy » Review: Bose Soundlink Mini February 13, 2014 9:02 am  Reply

    […] For those of you living with such a woman, who lives the minimalist dream and likes her choones, imagine the points you’ll score when you bin the cumbersome, slightly dated, yet perfectly functional and technically superior hi-fi unit and replace it with this?! If the £170 ticket price is making your eyes water too much though, take a look at Geek’s review of the Soundlink SW100. […]

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