I am not one of those guys who thinks that everything goes better with Bluetooth. At the same time, I do see the usefulness of Bluetooth in a variety of items. I like using Bluetooth headset, have had some positive experiences with Bluetooth stereo headphones, and I swear by the Bluetooth speakerphone in the car. I had not, however, ever tried a Bluetooth portable speaker before taking a look at the TENQA SP-99 Bluetooth speaker.
Am I sold on this Bluetooth gadget? Let’s take a look…
From The Company:
Stereo Bluetooth Speaker To-Go.
Remove the wires between you and your music at home or on the go. The Tenqa® SP-99 Wireless Stereo Bluetooth® Speaker is a battery-powered, portable Bluetooth speaker that connects you with your music on your mobile phone, Bluetooth iPod touch®, Bluetooth iPhone™, Bluetooth mp3 player, computer, and more—without wires.
Receive wireless stereo audio via Tenqa’s SP-99 Wireless Stereo Bluetooth Speaker when paired with any device that uses stereo Bluetooth A2DP wireless technology. Most mobile phones, iPod touch®, iPhone™, as well as many computers and Bluetooth mp3 players come equipped with stereo Bluetooth A2DP wireless technology that enables these devices to connect wirelessly to Tenqa Bluetooth speakers and Bluetooth headphones and transmit music in wireless stereo.
Place your Tenqa® SP-99 Wireless Stereo Bluetooth® Speaker anywhere in your home including your living room, bedroom, office, bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere you want to hear your wireless music. Transmit wireless music from your computer or use your Bluetooth mobile phone, Bluetooth iPod touch®, or Bluetooth iPhone™, or Bluetooth Blackberry® as a “remote control” and transmit wireless audio and control tracks from across the room. With Bluetooth Class 2 technology, you can receive and control your audio up to 33 feet away from your stereo Bluetooth audio device.
The SP-99′s compact, portable design and battery power capabilities allow you to take it anywhere you want to hear music wirelessly. Take it to work and set it up on your desk. Pack the portable lightweight SP-99 in your suitcase and take it on the road and enjoy full stereo sound in your hotel. Where you use your Tenqa SP-99 Stereo Bluetooth Speaker is up to you.
You can control your audio from up to 33 feet away with the SP-99′s Bluetooth AVRCP remote control capabilities. The SP-99 Stereo Bluetooth Speaker features integrated music controls that allow you to change the music track and volume directly from your stereo Bluetooth speaker from a distance of up to 33 feet (10 meters)—without wires.
The SP-99 also features a “line-in” jack that enables you to connect any device via wire to its 3.5mm audio jack when stereo Bluetooth wireless capabilities are not present or desired.
Bluetooth V2.0, Class 2
Up to 10 meters (33 feet) when connected to a Class 2 Bluetooth device
2W X 2
Mode, track and volume adjustment
Dimensions- 15 X 6.3 X 7.1 in (38 X 16 X 18 cm)
In The Package–
• 1 Tenqa SP-99 Bluetooth Speaker
• 1 AC Power Supply
• 1 3.5mm audio cable for devices without Bluetooth capabilities
When I first took it out of the box I was struck by the device. It has a unique shape to it. The device itself is oblong, but the speaker grill tapers in the middle which adds some interest. On the front is a Bluetooth indicator, a large logo for the company (I hate advertising other people’s products) and markers for the functions to play, pause, fast-forward, repeat, raise volume, and lower volume.
Having those markers on the front of the speaker is quite useful since the controls themselves are on the top of the speaker.
This allows you to adjust the music without having to actually look at the buttons themselves.
On the back of the speaker is on/off switch, a plug for the AC adapter, line in and line out ports and the battery door — the speaker can run off of four AAA batteries. One of the unusual things about the speaker is that if you try to lie on the table face up it doesn’t lay flat but rather rocks back and forth because of the curve on the back.
All that aside, what really matters is how the speaker connects to the sound source and how it sounds when it does.
Pairing the speaker with a variety of devices was a breeze. I simply turned on the device (the power indicator shows that it is on and a flashing blue light indicates that it was in pairing mode), opened the Bluetooth setup on any of a number of devices and started the search process. Within a few seconds each device found the speaker. After inputting the highly secure pairing code (0000) the blue light on the speaker went solid indicating that pairing was complete. From there it was as simple as starting the music.
Device controls –
When used with an iPhone or iPod touch the speaker volume controls and the play/pause will work. Unfortunately, the forward and repeat buttons will not work (I suspect due to a limitation imposed by Apple). You also need to start a song playing from the iPhone or the iPod touch before the play/pause button will work.
When paired with my Blackberry Bold, however, it’s a different story. Once the Blackberry was paired with the speaker all of the button functionality worked as intended.
The same was true for the Sprint Hero I’ve been reviewing. While the device doesn’t offer the easiest interface for accessing Bluetooth controls it had the benefit of automatically pairing with the speaker. In addition, the Bluetooth on the Hero was fully capable of controlling the device remotely.
Sound quality –
Sound quality was pretty much what one might expect from a small, portable Bluetooth speaker. It was good enough at low volumes but quickly began to distort as you reached the higher volumes. In addition, as is so often the case with Bluetooth speakers and headphones the sound degraded significantly as the distance increased and there were even a few hiccups in Berks along the way when the music source wasn’t even moving.
Then again, you don’t buy a Bluetooth speaker like this for the high fidelity but rather for the convenience of a portable speaker that can connect to any Bluetooth enabled device and allow you to share the sound with those around you or avoid having to wear earbuds. On that front it worked admirably.
Overall, if I were looking for a speaker that is both portable and convenient, and I wasn’t overly worried about blowing the doors off of the stadium or listening to the slightest nuances in the music this speaker would do the job just fine. It is small, light, and the pairing process couldn’t be simpler.
I however, am not in the market for a speaker quite like this. Since the company was kind of to send this as a review/keeper, it is now on its way down to Travis who, with little kids at home and a variety of high school sports teams, can likely make better use of it. I’ll be interested to see what he thinks after using it for a while, and he’ll update this review when he’s ready.
What I Like-
Small, easy to pair, sounds fine for a speaker of this size and price
What I Don’t-
Odd shape is… odd and when placed on its back it rocks rather than lays
The Tenqa SP-99 is available from Amazon for $79.99.