Bluetooth speakers are, to coin a phrase, a dime a dozen in this day and age. Aside from the fact smartphones are capable of some quite clear, loud and indeed crisp low end output now, there are still situations where bluetooth speakers come in handy; Trips, holidays, picnics, and of course when you want something to sing along to in the shower! So let’s take a look at IEC Technology’s Portable Bluetooth Speaker in our full review.
This particular device comes courtesy of EC Technology who are currently an Amazon Prime seller. They sell mobile device peripherals such as battery packs, USB hubs and of course bluetooth accessories like this particular speaker. At the time of writing they have a 4.9/5.0 star rating with over 3,500 individual ratings in the last 12 months, so you can be sure you’re getting a quality product, and this speaker is no exception.
EC Technology Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Unboxing & Overview
EC Technology keep the packaging quite simple with cardboard boxing, and soft foam inserts to keep the device nice and safe during transit. The packaging has some basic product shots as well as a specifications matrix calling out the 5W 2ohm 45mm speaker, 500mA battery as well as the dimensions which measure in at 70.1mm (H) x 64.5mm (L) x 64.5mm (W).
The box contents consist of:
- EC Technology portable Bluetooth speaker
- Micro USB cable for charging
- 3.5mm audio cable
- Instruction manual
Whilst the device is quite small, and has a nice cylindrical design to it finished in glossy black plastic, it’s far from feeling cheap. There is a nice heft to it that not only helps improve the feel of the product but also, along with the rubber pad on the bottom, helps to keep the device sturdy on most semi-flat surfaces.
A quick look around the device shows the speaker at the top in a grey plastic mesh. Further down in the middle of the device is a grey metallic band that houses the subtle EC Technology branding as well as a Blue LED indicating the status of the Bluetooth connection or indeed 3.5mm connection. Towards the bottom of the front of the device is a pin hole microphone and “answer” button to allow calls to taken on this device via a connected smartphone. On the bottom is a button panel consisting of a FWD, RW and PLAY button with the former two doubling up as long press volume controllers if your connected device isn’t handy. Alongside this panel is the on/off switch. Finally, on the back side towards the bottom of the device is a micro USB port for charging and a 3.5mm jack for auxiliary input without the need for Bluetooth connectivity. It’s also worth noting that this device utilises Bluetooth 4.0 technology to deliver up to 12 hours of battery life at ‘normal’ volume. Take a look in the Performance section for our results on this.
Operation & Performance
This device is very easy and intuitive to use. Out of the bot, turning on the device placed it into pairing mode. Look for the ‘ECBT’ bluetooth device from your smartphone and connect. That’s it. You’re good to go. If that’s still a little difficult you could always opt for connecting via the included 3.5mm audio cable to shave off a few micro-seconds from the operation! The Blue LED will indicate that connection has been made, regardless of how you choose to connect your device, and all the devices sounds, calls and music will now play through the Portable Bluetooth Speaker.
From our sound tests there is a definite increase in clarity over using smartphones. We tested using a Samsung Galaxy S6, a OnePlus One, as well as a Xiaomi MiPad Android tablet, and all of which delivered an audible increase in clarity and definition when connected to the EC Technology device. We’ve use Boomsound devices in the past and in our estimation this device delivers a slightly (very slightly) improved sound over the Boomsound implementation on the HTc One M8 for example.
We also took numerous calls on this device and all delivered acceptable clarity, although your mileage may vary depending on the device this is connected to. The microphone seemed to provide acceptable voice calling according to our call partner as well as providing noise cancellation on our end. A nice touch.
One of the down sides to Bluetooth speakers/receivers usually is a slight degradation in quality as the volume increases as well as a latency issue. We’ve observed one of these but not both. The quality of the sound is faultless in terms of volume change. There is no discernible degradation of the sound from the lowest to the highest volume selections which is obviously good news.
We have however suffered slightly from latency. During normal operation; playing music, this isn’t noticeable. However when connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth and a notification comes in, both devices seemingly play the notification and the latency is then noticeable, albeit very minor. This isn’t something that’s going to be a deal breaker if you want this device for day-to-day use however, and it’s only worth mentioning in so much that we did notice it during testing. It’s worth noting that this minor offset isn’t noticed in 3.5mm audio cable connectivity.
Finally we come to battery life. This device does not disappoint. We managed to get just over 8 hours of continuous playback from our smartphone before the device tailed off. This is within the 8-12 hours of battery life EC Technology calls out in its literature. We were playing music at just over normal (about 60% volume) for that period which seems more than acceptable to us.
This device delivers simplicity and on each and every promise it makes. Sound is more than adequate with high-end being crisp and clear, whilst low-end is more than acceptable and punchy. Connectivity is swift and intuitive whilst battery life means that you won’t be worrying about the device dying before your smartphone does in a general setting.
The EC Technology Portable Bluetooth Speaker is both well-built and well weighted, which as previously mentioned is important in a device like this which will take some rough and tumble depending on the elements.
EC Technology chose their wording carefully; it’s portable but not easily pocket-able due to the cylindrical design, although this surely wouldn’t figure much into the buying decision. If you’re a consumer looking for a device to deliver a better audio experience than your smartphone, you’re not going to get a small credit card sized device to fit the bill.
That being said, one design feature we’d have like to have seen is front placed volume buttons/controls. Having to access these from the bottom is a little tiresome, albeit the need to access them is limited.
At a price point of just £15.99 on Amazon right now we’d find it hard not to recommend this device to anyone but an avid audiophile. Does it deliver the highest highs and the lowest lows you’re ever going to get from a Bluetooth speaker? No, there are others out there at the high end of the market which will have it beaten. The key is the portability however and in its price bracket, we’re sure consumers won’t be unhappy with the purchase and would have to be seriously nitpicking to find anything deal-breaking wrong with the device. A good all-rounder at a great price.
Our thanks to EC Technology for sending us this device for review.