What You Need to Know About Portable Speakers

Maybe you’ve just gotten back from a beach vacation. You had a great time, but you really missed your tunes. Others on the beach were playing music on some kind of portable speaker, but you don’t have anything like that yet.
If you’re looking for answers about portable speakers, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn everything you need to know before purchasing your own portable speaker.

What Are Portable Speakers?

The term might seem a little obvious, but it’s worth clarifying what we’re talking about here. There are plenty of speakers in the world, and – aside from the massive ones in large event spaces like arenas or churches – most of them are not easy to pick up and move. But that’s not what we mean when we say “portable speaker.”
Portable speakers are the sorts of handheld (or handheld-ish) speakers that operate on battery power and generally rely on a wireless connection to another device (like your phone) for an audio signal. They come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny devices that literally fit in the palm of your hand, to not-so-tiny wheeled devices that roll around like a hefty roller backpack.
The main identifying features, though, are battery operation, portability, and (usually) wireless connectivity.
Some portable speakers (Alexa’s portable varieties, like the Tap, are prime examples) are Wi-Fi enabled, allowing them to connect directly to a wireless network and stream content straight from the web. Nearly all employ Bluetooth connectivity (or a similar, but proprietary, protocol like Apple AirPlay) to play audio from your phone or other device.

What Kinds of Portable Speakers Are There?

It’s a big, wide category, and there are plenty of devices with plenty of uses. In addition to what we’ll call general listening devices, there are rugged portable speakers and water- and sand-proof portable speakers intended for outdoor or beach use. Some portable speakers are designed for solo listening, while others can be heard a city block away.
There are speakers at all price points and quality levels, from budget-minded $10 speakers at the dollar or discount store to high-end, mind-blowing audio quality from high-end players like Bang & Olufsen or Bowers & Wilkins.
(And no, we don’t recommend taking that $500 or $1,000 portable speaker to the beach!)
For the premium side of the midrange, Sonos is a power player here as well.
Well-known tech brands, including Apple, Google and Amazon, all have their own entrants, too. Be aware, though, that not every smart speaker from these companies is intended to be completely portable. Some must remain on AC power and some aren’t designed to withstand the elements.

What Features Should I Look For in a Portable Speaker?

The features to look for are going to depend on what you want your portable speaker to do. Battery life varies wildly, so if you intend to use your speaker for lengthy outdoor sessions where you can’t recharge it, look for a model with a solid battery life rating. Make sure your portable speaker is rated for what you want to do with it. In other words, if you need one that can get wet, prioritize that feature.
Sound quality is a big factor here, too, and it’s a tough topic. First, sound quality can be a bit personal. Some people absolutely love Beats headphones, for example, while others find them annoyingly bassy. If there’s any way to test out a portable speaker before purchasing, we highly recommend doing so. It’s more important that you like the sound than that some tech reviewer liked it, after all.
Be aware that size isn’t everything. Speaker technology has come a long way, and you could be shocked at how much high-quality sound can come out of a pretty small package. And on the other end of that spectrum, some cheap manufacturers have created nice-looking speakers with some heft to them, but it’s all decorative. The sound quality is lousy.Generally, the more you pay, the better the sound quality is going to be. For a deeper dive, check out this piece on how to tell if a Bluetooth speaker is any good.

Are There Extended Warranties for Portable Speakers?

Many retailers will offer you an extended warranty when you head to the checkout with your new portable speaker. Anything portable is prone to drops and other damage, after all.
And while it’s a good idea to protect your portable speaker, those big box retailer extended warranties are overpriced.
Upsie offers extended warranties on portable speakers at rates the big box retailers can’t touch.

What Makes Upsie’s Portable Speaker Warranty Better than the Rest?

Upsie offers the same quality coverage on portable speaker extended warranties, but at much more affordable rates. Upsie covers drops, liquid damage, mechanical failure, and speaker/sound failure, just like they do. But because Upsie cuts out the middleman so warranties from Upsie are far more affordable. Simply head over to our audio product page, select “Portable Speakers,” and see just how low our rates are!

Learn More About Portable Audio Warranties:

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.