To be honest, most of my gaming — whether PC, Mac, DS, PSP, iOS or Android — is done either with headphones or with the device muted. There are a couple of reasons for this: first to allow for ‘gaming anywhere’; the second because ever since playing games such as Thief in the late 90s, I have appreciated directional sound and the nuances of quality headphones. But sometimes when playing a shooter what I really want is a nice booming rattle – but that won’t happen with an iPad. Now Divoom introduces the OnBeat X1 and promises the ‘ultimate gaming speaker’. Let’s take a look!
Here are some of the features:
- Suction cups to stick the speaker on the back of your smartphone
- Vibration bass for gaming for more realistic gaming experience
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 8 hours of music playback
- Compact Bluetooth speaker for gaming and music playback
As I highlight in the review video, there are only two questions that matter: is it any good, and will anyone want to use it? Let’s tackle them in order!
Despite coming in a small package, you will immediately notice that the OnBeat is hefty and feels solid. The system has a built-in all day battery as well as suction cups to hold the OnBeat to your iPad in addition to speakers and control electronics. The speakers themselves are positioned behind an aluminum mesh grille.
The first concern I had was how the speakers would hold up to abuse, since suction cups have a nasty habit of drifting and coming undone. For good or bad, I got my answer during the first hour after I opened the package. I stuck the OnBeat to the back of my iPad Mini and was getting everything set up and showing my family when the speaker slid to the edge and fell off.
There was silence in the room, but the first thing I did was make sure start playing the Magellan synth again, and found out that the speaker was still on, connected and working fine. I then picked it up and found that despite falling close to 5 feet on to a wood floor everything looked perfect. No issues with cosmetics or functionality – I would call that excellent build quality!
Setup and Connectivity
One of the big things about the OnBeat is the minimalist design. You have front facing speakers along with internal resonance cavities to help use your iPad or smartphone as a bass-enhancer and to vibrate along with gameplay sounds. Then you have the mounting suction cups. Along one edge you have an on-off switch, a micro-USB plug and a 3.5mm input jack. And that is it. Fewer parts mean smaller size and less fragility, but it also puts all of the control on your smartphone or tablet.
Connecting with the OnBeat is trivial — you power it on, head to your Bluetooth control center on iOS or Android and tap on the OnBeat and it will be paired. And, um, that is pretty much it. I paired on my iPhone 5, Galaxy SIII and iPad Mini, and never had an issue connecting. In fact, when using the OnBeat with the iPad Mini in the review, I hadn’t connected in a bit and had used it with the Galaxy earlier in the day, but it connected again without hesitation or issue.
Also, since it accepts 3.5mm input, I was able to hook in my Nintendo DS to see how the Korg DS-10+ sounded. It works perfectly.
I am hoping that the review video shows off just how much louder the sound gets and the increase of the frequency and dynamic range. You get much more bass from the system, and you can feel the game resonate through the iPad.
While I didn’t attempt to measure sound volume or range, I would estimate an average of 50% volume increase, with much more bass emphasis. Of course, the impact changes depending on where you mount the speaker. I mounted it to a hard surface in our bathroom and it had a lesser effect in the bass range, as there was too much mass to effectively resonate.
The Divoom OnBeat X1 is small, portable, easy to use, and sounds great. But there are two other things: price and battery life. The battery claims 8 hours of continuous play, but I have found that the battery lasts much longer than that. We used it attached to an iPad outdoors, then moved inside and used it with our phones, and so on … and it was still charged a couple of days later when I picked it up to use it again. Over a couple of weeks of testing I have charged it twice – upon arrival and after about a week.
The price is equally impressive – $39.99. That is right – a small, great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that attaches to the back of your smartphone or tablet and enhances any sound out of your device (but especially games), all for $40.
Price: $39.99 on Amazon
What I Like: Great sound; easy configuration; great battery life; good value
What Needs Improvement: Nothing
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
Here is my hands-on video review: