Soundbot SB512 Bluetooth Speaker Review with Video
Recently I wanted a Bluetooth speaker for my phone. I’ll be honest – I wanted a cheap one; one cheap enough and light enough I could throw it in a backpack or clip it to the outside and let it get hammered or lost and not care. I wanted one that easy to use and would serve me for a few minutes here and there while driving shuttles around town and up to the river. I even thought if it was light enough I might throw it in an outside pocket on my backpack and take it on a trail run. Since wireless Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen these days I figured finding one would be easy.
I was searching around (not looking real hard) and found the Soundbot SB512 – it’s small, claims to be water resistant, and was super affordable (read: cheap). I had 140 reviews on Amazon, although like the worst of Amazon, I assume most of the reviews are generated by folks who got the thing for free. It appears to be identical to the VicTsing speaker – to the point where the photos are identical. At any rate, I liked the price. I liked the size, and I liked that it had MicroSD capability.
It’s super average. Some of my initial attraction to the speaker holds – it’s about the right size, it’s lightweight (which in a speaker generally means poor sound quality, but my expectations in this department weren’t high), and it makes sounds from both the MicroSD card and my phone.
Connecting my phone was a pain. It took way longer than it should have. Several tries. I had to reboot, forget the SB512, reboot again, connect again and again, etc. I finally got it to work.
The MicroSD card thing is cool in theory. The ability to insert some memory and not have to connect the phone is actually easier than connecting the phone – quicker too. The Soundbot SB512 defaults to the MicroSD card and it starts playing music the second it’s turned on. The downfall is that with the MicroSD card it always turns on to the same volume – LOUD, and there’s no shuffle ability with the memory card. It makes using the memory pretty useless. Users have to listen to the same songs, in the same order. Every. Single. Time. Sure, users can turn on the unit and then push track forward several times and you might end up further down the track list I suppose, but that stinks.
The alternative is to, of course, connect a phone. It’s not as easy as simply hitting the power button and listening to the music, but at least a smartphone allows a user access to a method of shuffling and playlist alternatives.
One other thing that bugs me is the button layout. All the buttons are directly opposite one another – pressing almost always means pressing another. It’s annoying and shows poor design.
If you can take the lack of shuffle on the MicroSD card, and the finicky phone connection, and the poor button layout and the volume resetting to LOUD every time, then you might like this little speaker. If you can’t deal with one of those, then there’s got to be a better option out there for a few bucks more. The next one I buy will have shuffle or random mode associated with the expandable memory.