Last year we had one category defining best portable audio, but this year things have changed. Now the portable audio category has been split into two, with best headphones in one and best portable speaker in the other.
The portable speaker category is made up of Bluetooth speakers only, and over the past 12 months we have seen some fantastic devices capable of producing excellent sound despite their small and compact sizes. Many of them combine style and substance, so choosing the top five was no easy job given the sheer number of products out there. But whittle down we did: here is shortlist for the Best Portable Speaker 2013 in a little more detail.
Cambridge Audio Minx Go
Cambridge Audio introduced the Minx Go portable speaker in August for £100. Despite its reasonable price the sound is far beyond reasonable: for the price we have to say the volume level and sound quality is exceptional. The battery is a long-lasting powerhouse and the bass radiator at the rear kicks out the low-end.
READ: Cambridge Audio Minx Go
This portable speaker is proof that budget audio systems needn't deliver poor audio. It isn't perfect - the tweeters are a little crunchy for some listens - but for £100 the booming bass and loud audio that comes from this device is impressive.
Loewe Speaker 2 go
The Loewe Speaker 2 go arrived in July for £269, which is quite competitively priced for a premium brand. The speaker has a great build and sound quality, and we appreciated the NFC feature for making mobile device connectivity easy.
The Speaker 2 go is designed to deliver on the audio front but priced to be affordable and it is highly impressive, bringing quality by the bucket load. The battery will give you eight hours of playback and we think there is something charming about this portable speaker's size, and something surprising about its performance. It comes highly recommended in our eyes and, indeed, ears.
Philips Fidelio P9
Philips introduced the Fidelio P9 in August, with a price tag of £239 attached to it. Although it's a touch on the expensive side, we were big fans of the Philips Fidelio P9's build quality, battery life and charging port.
It is portable, good looking and delivers with fantastic performance, giving it plenty to offer in this market. The build quality is brilliant and even when it is wrapped up in its leather case, we still thought it looked amazing. For sophistication and sound quality that will impress, the Fidelio P9 is more than worthy of being shortlisted in this category.
The Sony SRS-BXT500 Bluetooth speaker was announced in July for £280 and it not only sounds amazing, but it also looks great. It's loud, the NFC feature for Bluetooth pairing is a dream and the built-in battery is useful.
READ: Sony SRS-BXT500 review
The price is by no means cheap, but the sound quality this speaker provides is really top-level stuff and feels like a return to form from Sony. We love the way it looks and it also acts as a fantastic speakerphone, so a very worthy contender in the category.
Ultimate Ears UE Boom
Ultimate Ears introduced the UE Boom Bluetooth speaker in May for £170. It's not a cheap portable but we have a lot of love for it for several reasons. The UE Boom delivers loud, near 360-degree sound projection, has a decent battery life and is water-resistant.
READ: Ultimate Ears UE Boom
The build and design is great, it is not only colourful but also tough - that material is "slash proof" - and you can pair it with two devices to take it in turns to share music. It's a versatile and well-designed Bluetooth speaker, one that delivers on many levels and leaves little to be desired. The sound is immersive and rich, yet remains big and loud considering the unit's scale, and we are yet to see a better option at this size.
Voting for your favourite
Voting in the 10th annual Pocket-lint Awards is now open. You can let us know which one of these great devices should win the Best Portable Speaker 2013 award and give us your verdict about all the other tech across the 12 select categories. To vote, all you have to do is visit pocket-lint.com/awards.
Winners will be announced at the exclusive event in London on 28 November in association with O2 and Hotwire. For now, keep an eye on the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2013 hub for all the latest on how the voting works, who the elite judges are and the complete 10th Pocket-lint Gadget Awards shortlist.