Posted: 7:46 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014
Portable speakers come in all shapes and sizes, but rarely does the size merit an "awww, cute!"
That's the Matrix Audio Qube2 in a tiny nutshell. Measuring just 3.1 inches long and 1.4 inches square, this little guy makes a Twinkie look big. And yet its size belies its power: the Qube2 pumps up the jams like you wouldn't believe.
I'm listening to a review unit at this very moment. It's paired via Bluetooth to my iPhone, which is streaming tunes from Pandora. And it sounds amazeballs--way, way better than a speaker of this size has any right to.
At medium-low volumes, which is what I prefer for background music while I work, the Qube2 delivers a rich, full clarity that rivals speakers three times larger. And if you crank the volume, you can fill a room with distortion-free sound that's boisterous enough to bug the neighbors. (You'll thank me. They won't.)
I'm not sure how the Qube2 pulls off these feats of audio magic, though I do know it packs a pair of 3-watt speakers and incorporates passive vibrating bass (PVB) technology. Normally I'd dismiss this as marketing fluff, but dang if the little rectangle doesn't produce a decent low end.
I especially like the design: a very solid aluminum chassis (in your choice of five gorgeous metallic colors) with rounded edges and exactly one control: a power button that's also used for pairing and to play/pause your music.
The speaker weighs a little over six ounces and feels very durable, meaning you could easily toss it in a bag or coat pocket. To that end, Matrix supplies a carrying case. There's also a wrist strap in the unlikely event you want to carry it around while listening to your tunes.
The Qube2 charges via an included micro-USB cable. According to Matrix Audio, its battery is good for up to eight hours between trips to the USB port or charger. (Actually, the product page says eight hours; the box says 10.)
I think my only real complaint is with the price: $79.99. That's pretty steep for such a small speaker, even one as powerful as this. On the other hand, if you prize portability above all else, the Qube2 makes an awesome traveling companion. It's the best tiny Bluetooth speaker I've ever heard.
Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC World and Wired.
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