Sbode's $50 portable Bluetooth speaker is a good-looking speaker that's water-resistant and full-featured for its price. But does that mean it's any good? I was sent one straight from Sbode and used it for a good week and a half.
Here we go!
Sounds like you'd expect $50 to sound
The most important thing in any speaker for me is how it sounds, especially when it comes to Bluetooth. I firmly believe that with all speakers, you pay for what you get, so I had to meter my expectations.
I have to say that I was somewhat surprised — pleasantly so. I found all aspects of music to be quite clear, and the low end was quite a bit warmer than expected. Upon switching to another, better Bluetooth speaker, I noticed the Sbode speaker was considerably "tinnier", but not deal-breakingly so.
I've actually been using it as I write this to play audio from Netflix on my Chromebook. Dialogue is nice and clear, and it's certainly a step up from the Chromebook's speakers, though men with deeper voices tend to sound a little muddy. I know most people wouldn't use it for that, but it did help give me a better overall picture of this thing's audio capabilities. And like the title says, it's a hard 7/10. For $50, I'd gladly listen to this in an office setting or in my kitchen while I wash dishes, or even by the pool.
All the controls are too many
If you're coming from another Bluetooth speaker, there is a little bit of a learning curve with this speaker. On just about every other Bluetooth speaker I've used, you press the "volume up" button once to advance a track and you hold it down to increase volume. On the Sbode speaker, it's not the case. You press or hold to increase volume and double-press to change track. Then there's a button to answer phone calls, and there's another to pair two of these speakers together for a left/right stereo pair.
Full-featured for the price, even if the features are weird
You get a lot in the Sbode speaker for $50. You have a built-in FM tuner, and that's pretty rad. The weird thing is the SD card slot: you can't play music from an SD card — the speaker acts as an SD card reader when connected to your computer via USB. Why that's a thing, I have no idea, but there you are. In an age of disappearing computer ports, it may actually come in handy.
Making calls on a Bluetooth speaker like this is never idea, and I don't want the feature until it's perfect (I don't even like making calls on my Google Home Mini). The stereo pairing option does intrigue, but again, I don't think you need it in a speaker of this quality. That being said, it's a very affordable way to go about it. You would just want to be using them in stereo under the right conditions.
Should you buy it? Yeah, why not?
As far as Bluetooth speakers go, this one isn't perfect. Is it even perfect for $50? Not as I see it, but I'm a frugal S.O.B. This is a hard 7/10 in the realm of Bluetooth speakers, but I'd give it a 10 in its price range and for its feature set.
Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.