Bose unveils SoundLink wireless mobile speaker, fancies up A2DP for a premium (hands-on)

Ah, Bose -- give it an audio product and it'll be sure to add that seemingly unnecessary luxury feel, minus the hard hitting details. If you'll recall, the Massachusetts-based company had quietly pushed some new 'wares through the FCC this past week, but with not so much as a sliver of info. Today in the Big Apple, it finally let us in on one new item, the SoundLink wireless mobile speaker. Priced at $300 and up, this unit is a "portable" A2DP Bluetooth speaker weighing in at around three pounds with less than two-inches of depth -- basically, it's massive against similar speakers like the Jawbone Jambox or foxL v2. We had the opportunity today to spend a few minutes with this opulent gizmo, and you'll find all the details just past the break. %Gallery-133950%

The device has an elegant overall look, and feels very solid in hand. Up top, you'll find all of your playback controls, and on the back, a power jack, 3.5mm audio input and a micro-USB for future firmware updates. It has the vibe of the company's larger Wave speakers you may have seen on a late night infomercial. Interestingly, the SoundLink uses a folding magnetic cover to protect its grill in transit and keep the unit and buttons functionless, conversely letting it turn on when opened and acting as a stand when in use.

Two hex screws on the bottom keep it attached, meaning you'll be able to swap it for other colors when the mood strikes. The base model comes with a dark grey cover for $300, and the premium LX variant scores you dark brown leather for about 50 bucks more -- spendy. Bose will also separately offer said covers in red or purple nylon for 30 bucks, and burgundy or tan leather for $50 -- Smart Cover, meet speaker. The leather blends great with the silver color of the speaker, but the bright nylons feel like an odd attempt at trying to be hip with the youngsters. Imagine taking your grandparent's champagne-tinged sedan and then adding sports car-like racing stripes; it's kind of like that.

Internally, the SoundLink's loaded with four 2-inch neodymium drivers double stacked on either side for your mids and highs, while two "dual-opposing passive radiators" pump bass out from front to back -- also serving to prevent it from vibrating across your table. We're told its internal Li-ion battery will last up to four hours with the volume maxed, and around eight if you keep things in moderation. Notably, the speaker can recall up to six of your paired devices, but as is the case with Bluetooth, you'll be stuck to one SoundLink per gadget.

Using the device was extremely straightforward. Upon opening the flap and powering on, it automatically goes into Bluetooth pairing mode to search for nearby devices. Within about 15 seconds the speaker was recognized by our iPad and we were ready to stream. The sound quality was by no means amazing, but for a Bluetooth speaker it was certainly loud enough to reach ear-ringing levels and clearer than we'd have expected. Still, at higher volumes there was some noticeable distortion going on -- especially noticeable with heavy rock tracks. The problem is that just like with the Jambox, our music felt constrained and the overall sound felt unfilled.

Once we stepped about three feet back, stereo separation was all but gone, which is a shame considering we were able to walk over 20 feet away from it without losing signal. Furthermore, despite having those dual radiators for the low end, any dubstep we played through it turned into treblestep. To be perfectly clear, for average listening the SoundLink certainly does a respectable job for what it is. But alas, the SoundLink feels overpriced for the audio quality, given the similar sound we've heard from far less expensive alternatives. If you're finding yourself mildly intrigued, it's available as we speak in the source link below.

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Bose Introduces SoundLink® Wireless Mobile Speaker

A New Kind of Bluetooth® Speaker: Audio Performance, Mobility and Durability

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Bose has introduced the SoundLink® Wireless Mobile speaker, a portable speaker that connects wirelessly to any Bluetooth enabled device. Now, the music from a smartphone or tablet can be streamed at the touch of a button and played out loud anywhere -- with a level of audio performance, mobility and durability that's entirely new for Bluetooth speakers. The SoundLink® Wireless Mobile speaker will be available from Bose and select authorized dealers worldwide beginning September 15, 2011.

"Bluetooth speakers have been available before today, but we believe the SoundLink® Wireless Mobile speaker represents a step forward -- a better experience"

"People want to listen to their music everywhere," said John Roselli, director of Bose Product Marketing. "And millions of consumers already own Bluetooth enabled devices like the iPhone, iPad and Android phones that can store thousands of songs. But there hasn't been a way to experience that content like the SoundLink® Wireless Mobile speaker. With no wires or docking needed, its magic becomes evident the first time you hold it, and the first time you hear it."

A New Kind of Audio

Bose engineers developed inventions to do something that hadn't been done to date: reproduce full-range audio from a single, hand-held enclosure. The SoundLink® speaker's audio impact defies its size. It combines four low-profile neodymium transducers for clear high- and mid-frequencies, with new dual-opposing passive radiators -- designed with a patented waffle-shaped surround -- for rich, deep, low notes. With the radiators placed in an opposing fashion, vibration is eliminated, turning the energy into acoustic power. The speaker's audio package is complemented with sophisticated electronics, including Bose® digital signal processing algorithms, to reproduce instrument definition and detail at any volume.

A New Kind of Mobility

Delivering quality sound wasn't enough: the SoundLink® Mobile speaker had to meet other rigid criteria to achieve its design goals. At less than two inches thick, and no bigger than an average book, it can easily fit in a bag, backpack or briefcase. For instant setup, its integrated cover unfolds into a stand. Open the cover, and the system is ready to be played. Close it, and the system shuts off. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery supplies power for more than three hours at high volume, and for more than eight hours at typical listening levels, making it ideal for the beach, park, party, home, or office.

A New Kind of Durability

The SoundLink® speaker is a road warrior. While no mobile device can endure every circumstance, the SoundLink® speaker was built to withstand the rigors of daily use like no other product in its category. It was tested in Bose environmental labs to resist salt-fog, sand, wind, and moisture. And using end-caps made from automotive-grade chrome, it will survive being dropped -- repeatedly.

The Convenience of Wireless

The SoundLink® Mobile speaker features Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) and a powerful antenna for a reliable wireless audio connection. Pairing takes moments, and wirelessly connecting to a smartphone or tablet is as easy as pressing one button on the speaker's control panel. The six most recently used Bluetooth® devices are stored in memory, eliminating the need to pair again. And music can be streamed while texting, emailing or web-browsing.

"Bluetooth speakers have been available before today, but we believe the SoundLink® Wireless Mobile speaker represents a step forward -- a better experience," said Roselli. "We also believe that people will reach for it again and again, and enjoy their music in ways and places they never imagined."

Trim Options, Accessories, Availability

The SoundLink® Wireless Mobile speaker comes with a standard trim level and a dark gray Cordura® nylon cover for $299.95, or in the LX model, with a premium trim level and a dark brown leather cover for $349.95. Accessory covers in nylon (bright red or royal purple) and leather (burgundy or tan) are available separately for $29.95 and $49.95, respectively. The SoundLink® Mobile speaker and its accessory covers will be sold at Bose retail stores,, toll-free at 1-800-444-BOSE (2673) and at select authorized Bose dealers.