(Pocket-lint) - If you think you need a big product for big sound then the Bose Portable Home Speaker is here to prove otherwise. This little speaker, complete with its carry handle, might look kind-of innocuous - but the bold sound it can pump out is quite the opposite.

Thing is, Bose being Bose, it's an expensive purchase. However, with lots of features - from Airplay 2 to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity - it's smarter than some of the simpler competition out there. And with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant baked in, this could be the only smart speaker you ever need buy.

Design

  • Dimensions: 192 x 119 x 104mm / Weight: 1kg
  • Finishes: Triple Black, Luxe Silver
  • Illuminating top ring for feedback
  • Built-in control panel buttons
  • Built-in voice assistants
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • 12hr battery life

When we first pulled the Portable Home Speaker out of its box we shrugged, assuming it wouldn't be especially powerful. How wrong we were: it sounds super, without foregoing its principal purpose. It says it in the product name, right? It's portable first and foremost, easy to pick up by that carry handle and move wherever you fancy.

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The finish is great too: an aluminium grille littered with small circular openings surrounds the bottom third or so, enabling sound to eminate 360-degrees all around. The top two-thirds is matte finished, almost soft to touch, while the carry handle that pokes out from the sides is a woven material finish.

The whole package is also IPX4 water-resistant - meaning it can protect from splashes in any direction, but not submersion - which is handy should you wish to take the Portable Home Speaker outside of the home (some product names are there to be broken after all, eh?). The battery will last up to 12 hours so long as you're not hammering it out at top volume, with charging possible via the single USB-C port to the rear.

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Up top is an array of controls - on/off, Bluetooth pairing, Bose setup, mic mute, and a triple panel to control volume down, play/pause and volume up - that means everything is at your fingertips. Or download the Bose Music app to control from afar, which is where you can setup Wi-Fi controls too.

A circular light-up ring uses various colours to let you know when things are happening in terms of connectivity, volume, source and so forth. Having multiple sources, not just Bluetooth, is part of the way this Bose justifies its price over some of the competition. But it does put itself into Sonos territory in terms of pricing.

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Overall the Bose Portable Home Speaker design is neat and tidy, and better looking than an Amazon Echo or Google Nest Audio device, which means it ticks the box as a one-stop shop smart assistant speaker.

Sound

  • Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity
  • Multi-room functionality
  • Apple Airplay 2

Although Bose doesn't release specific technical details about the make-up of the Home Portable Speaker, as we've said throughout you wouldn't think that such a little container could deliver sound quite so large.

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The bass rumbles along with sincerely - strong enough to make a desk vibrate - without masking the presence of higher-end timbre from hi-hats, while allowing vocals to cut through the mid section. It's a bold delivery wherever you're standing in relation to the speaker, and whatever genre of music you like listening to.

There are some exceptions to the sound though. First, while the sound is dynamic, it's less so at lower volumes - so you need to find that sweet spot for it to have the right impact.

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Second, when the Portable Home Speaker is pushed too loud, the bass struggles and it becomes incohesive - so there's a limit to how loud you can push this thing. If you want huge sound for a big space then you'll need to buy a larger product.

Verdict

There's no getting around that the Bose Portable Home Speaker has a rather large asking price. Glance at the product and you'll probably be left scratching your head as to why. Switch it on, however, and the sensational audio - which is far larger sounding than the product size would suggest - and you'll suddenly fully understand why.

Not only does the Bose sound great, it's also genuinely portable, better built than a lot of the competition, and littered with features - Airplay 2 and Wi-Fi in addition to Bluetooth - that some Bluetooth-only competitors lack.

The Bose Portable Home Speaker does exactly what it says on the tin, but it's so much more than the sum of its title too. It's a super impressive little speaker with genuinely big sound.

Also consider

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Sonos Move

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It's far bigger and even more expensive, but if you want something more embedded in the home - while still remaining portable for those occasional extras - then Sonos does a grand job.

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Amazon Echo Plus

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At the other end of the price scale, if you want something cheaper, still portable, and with an integrated smart assistant then Amazon's homegrown product makes a lot of sense for more modest budgets.

Writing by Mike Lowe.