Many speaker manufacturers claim that their devices are wireless, but they still require a power point. Is the Verbatim Audio Cube different? SEAN BACHER tries it for power.
An inherent problem with most external computer speakers is the spaghetti-like maze of wires they bring to the desktop. While many manufacturers will argue that their speakers are wireless, they are usually only referring to sending a music signal wirelessly. You still need a power source, which means being plugged in.
However, storage and memory specialists Verbatim think they have the answer, and it is called the Verbatim Bluetooth Audio Cube. As the name indicates, it is a cube-shaped device designed to be both unobtrusive and elegant.
We put it through the Gadget Five Question User Test to see just how wireless it is.
1. Ease of use (including set-up)
The Verbatim Bluetooth Audio Cube doesn’t need any software before use, nor does it need any drivers. It will pair with any Bluetooth compatible device, including cellphones, tablets and computers.
It gets its power from four penlight batteries and, once they are inserted and the Audio Cube is powered up, it simply needs to be paired with a compatible device to play music.
The Power button, Volume controllers and buttons to skip, fast-forward and play or pause tracks are all located at the top of the Verbatim Audio Cube. These buttons let you take control of your playlist without having to dash over to the music-playing device each time.
The Cube is so easy to use that even an old-timer will quickly work out how to operate it. What is more, it looks and feels very sturdy and will survive the odd knock and, perhaps, even and accidental drop.
2. General performance
The Verbatim Audio Cube doesn’t seem to put much strain on its batteries (four are included). My review unit has been running for around two hours every day for the past five days and the batteries don’t seem to be showing any sign of going flat. If they do give in unexpectedly, the included USB cable will keep the tunes pumping until replacement batteries can be found. Better yet, use rechargeable batteries.
Two 50mm 8 Ohm speakers generate a total power output of 2 Watts. This is by no means loud, not even in when comparing the Verbatim Audio Cube to similar wireless speakers, but I found the sound quality and level more than adequate for watching movies and listening to MP3s while at work.
Unfortunately, the Audio Cube lacks a miniSD card slot, which most other wireless speakers use. The ability to use memory cards means you are not confined to the Bluetooth range and can carry music around wherever you go – on one device. The Verbatim Audio Cube requires you to carry two devices around but, when at home, you just have to be in the Bluetooth 20-30 meter range. The Audio Cube uses Bluetooth version 2.1, but is backward compatible with older versions, so this range will vary depending on the device paired with the Audio Cube.
The Audio Cube produces great sound, doesn’t chew batteries, but the lack of a miniSD card slot is a let-down.
3. Does it add value to your life?
Any device that is compact and doesn’t bring more clutter to an already chaotic desk, adds value. Cables are the bane of almost any gadget user’s desk life. The fewer, the better.
Unfortunately there is nothing innovative about the Verbatim Audio Cube. Manufacturers have been sending sound over Bluetooth connections for the past decade or so. As for battery-powered speakers, that’s hardly new. Some even come with rechargeable batteries.
5. Value for money
Retailing for around R400 from most electronic retail outlets across South Africa, the Verbatim Audio Cube is a little expensive for what you get. A few more features would have made it a great value for money speaker.
The Verbatim Audio Cube is a truly wireless speaker. But the batteries aren’t cheap, and translate to an ongoing cost that is less than perfect.
That said, if you have a look at what companies like Fulton Innovation and Powermat (review coming up) demonstrated at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in terms of wireless power, I think the idea of a proper wireless speaker that doesn’t use batteries, or uses built-in rechargeable batteries that are automatically charged, is not that far off.
Total score: 76%
* Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher