Review: Brookstone Big Blue Studio Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
December 10, 2012 by Bill Palmer
by Bill Palmer
Beatweek Best Bluetooth Speaker for 2013
Bluetooth wireless speakers represent one of the prevailing tech trends heading into 2013, as they’re compatible with nearly any smartphone or tablet, and they allow you to keep your device in your hands where you can use it while its audio travels remotely to the speaker. Brookstone’s entry into the bluetooth arena comes in the form of the Big Blue Studio, which despite its name, sits only about ten inches by five inches by five inches, making it suitably sized for an end table or desk. But it’s the kind of product that looks cool enough that you’ll probably want to put it where it can be the most easily seen.
The rounded rectangular casing is made of semi reflective acrylic in black, red, or white, and gives way to a silver metal grille across the front. In the center of the front face is a circular glassy blue orb which looks like an eye. Once you figure out that the orb is also the “on” button and hold it down for a second, a blue ring lights up around it. Pairing it with your mobile device is then as easy as selecting it in the device’s bluetooth menu.
The “Big Blue” name refers perhaps not only to the blue lighting, but also to the audio coming from the unit. Despite its size it packs an audible punch, as you can turn it up to the room-dominating maximum volume without losing a bit of audio fidelity. While there are no visible controls on the front of the unit, the rear surface reveals a pair of tuning knobs for treble and bass. This is a rare inclusion for bluetooth speakers, and a welcome one, as most mobile devices don’t include their own EQ controls. Also on the rear is a button for turning off the big blue light, and an audio port for use with non-bluetooth devices.
While the unit initially doesn’t appear to have volume controls, they’re actually cleverly hidden on the top of the unit. Instead of buttons, touch-capacitive areas denoted by small plus and minus signs allow the Big Blue to offer volume control without detracting from the minimalist design. Unfortunately there are no play/pause or next/previous controls to go along with it, which are typically included on wireless speakers in this price range. But that’s the only complaint here, and you can of course control playback directly on your mobile device.
It’s worth noting that unlike many competing bluetooth speakers in this price range, the Big Blue is not a portable device in that it doesn’t have a built in battery to facilitate taking it around the house with you without needing to plug it in. But if that’s not a feature you’re interested in, then Brookstone delivers nicely here, both in terms of audio quality and in terms of impressive aesthetics.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 • Price: $149 • brookstone.com