Let's get one thing out of the way first, this is not the Amazon Echo! It's about the same size, shape, and design - but it has a very different purpose
What's it for?
This is a big Bluetooth speaker with integrated LEDs and microphone.
At a basic level, you pair your phone with it and the Realsound acts as a speaker and microphone - so you can hold telephone conversations with it.
But that's only the half of it. Dotted all around the speakers are a variety of multicolour LEDs.
When you play music through it, you get your own little disco show!
Hashtag This Is Not The Amazon Echo!
— Terence Eden (@edent) September 27, 2016
Let's see it in action!
There are six different LED patterns you can choose from. Here we go!
At the top of the unit are some touch sensitive buttons. Play/Pause, Next, Previous, Volume Up and Down, and the LED pattern select.
The buttons don't seem to have any switches behind them, no clicking involved, just a quick tap and they react.
At the bottom of the unit, around the back, there's a micro USB socket. This is only used for power - you can't route audio through it. There is, however, a 3.5mm headphone jack - so you can plug in an aux cord and play directly from your phone.
There's a power toggle, and a small LED to tell you if the unit is charging. In the box you get a USB lead - but no plug - and a 3.5mm audio cable.
Let's be honest, this isn't going to replace your surround sound system. But it will comfortably fill a room with music. Take it outside and it performs beautifully. The sound emanates from all around, so you can leave it in the middle of a group of people and all enjoy the music.
Bluetooth range was acceptable. Obviously that will depend on your environment but I was able to wander around the house without any severe interuptions.
Audio quality was great - even at full volume I didn't experience any clipping. Voices were clear and stereo separation was good - the left speaker is at the bottom and the right at the top, phasing was also correct. Bass gave a good impression considering the size. Overall, a very competent speaker.
I fully charged the speakers - which only took a couple of hours - then set it to work. After 5 hours of music playback - and a couple of conference calls - the speaker was still going strong.
That's pretty damned impressive! It's thanks to its 3600mAh battery - that's larger than most modern smartphones'.
For voice the performance is mixed. Sound quality is great. As a speaker phone the volume is great with no distortion. It's a little weird watching the LEDs bouncing around while people talk, but makes boring conference calls a bit more entertaining.
A few people said that the microphone volume was a little low, others didn't seem to notice it. Much like with an speakerphone, you'll need a fairly quiet environment to get the most out of it.
It wouldn't be an @edent review without ripping it open!
Well, despite the dire warnings, where do we start? This is a splashproof unit with no obvious seams. Aha! The screws are under the rubber feet.
The glue is reasonably strong, so you'll need a good grip in order to peel it away. The screws are recessed, but not too deeply.
You can also see some test points which are exposed.
The top is a little tight to take off, underneath is the Bluetooth control unit.
The flipside of the controller shows us the BT antenna and other gubbins.
I'm not terribly happy about how well soldered the speaker wires are. Look a little fragile to me - but it's unlikely they'll come to any damage in a sealed unit.
The microphone is at the top. It's a standard condenser unit, I suspect the muffled sound is caused primarily by being behind a slightly too small aperture.
The next step is to remove the plastic backing strip. Do not peel this off or you will break it. Instead, slide it up gently.
This reveals three more screws for us to play with.
With the screws undone, we can begin to lift up the covering and see the LEDs on the inside:
And that's about as far as it is possible to go without removing some of the wiring. In order to get at the guts, you'd need to either unsolder or cut some wires. Not the sort of surgery I'm happy performing on a demo unit!
I'm sure with a little hardware hacking, it would be possible to make those LEDs play pong - but let's leave that for another day!
The Oittm Realsound Bluetooth Speaker is £50 from Amazon UK. It's an excellent kitchen speaker. Leave it plugged in, on a shelf somewhere, and enjoy music whenever you're in the room.
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