Bluetooth entered our world in 1994. The word invented is often used, but this is usually a misnomer. The physics and science were always there, floating around us. We just had to learn how to use it. Dutchman Jaap Hartsen did just that while he was working for Ericsson in Copenhagen.
And the name he gave it? He named it after a Scandinavian king, King Harald Bluetooth, who united the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Denmark in the 10th century.
Since then, it has become a communication essential for many people. Not always 100% reliable, it has grown in importance in today’s world of mass communication. Nowadays, there is very little that cannot be made Bluetooth compatible. This use has extended to us being able to walk about with a small speaker under our arm.
A speaker connected up to the world from which we can play our music whenever and wherever we want. Astonishing really. This Bose SoundLink Color II Review will look at one such Bluetooth compatible speaker. But before we do, let’s take a look at this company named after its founder Amar Bose.
Who Exactly Are Bose?
“Dr. Jekyll was most at ease,” said Mr. Hyde. What are we talking about, you may ask?
Bose is a US company whose major shareholder is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT. Founded in 1964, they have become a major player in the audio world. But they really are a Jekyll and Hyde company. Some love them and swear by them. Others wouldn’t give them the time of day.
They have been given a reputation by some that is not always accurate. Their products are not all USA made, despite claims to the contrary, which seems important to some people. Some of them are made in Mexico, some in China, and others in Malaysia.
Does it matter if the quality is still good? Of course not.
Some think they are grossly overpriced. There is some truth in that. Bose is expensive because of the massive PR and advertising campaigns they enter into. There are therefore a good number of products better and cheaper than Bose.
They are not liked by some because of these reasons. But also because the real antagonists are not the consumers that Bose tries to sell to. Bose is not in the ‘audiophile ‘market. They are in the mass consumer market. Therefore the products are designed and sold accordingly. They have become” most at ease” with what they do.
Yes, the products can be expensive, but when they get it right, they do get it right. The average consumer appreciates that, and that is where Bose is ‘at ease.’
So, let’s make up our own mind as we take a look through our Bose SoundLink Color II review…
Bose SoundLink Color II – An Overview
This speaker is an upgrade from the most appreciated and well-liked SoundLink Color I. Like its predecessor; it is a very compact and thus portable Bluetooth speaker. But there have been some changes.
It adds a speakerphone to its performance options and is now also water-resistant. It also has a different silicone exterior, which gives it a nice stable feeling to the touch.
From the house to the park or to the pool, it will give you quite a big sound packed into a small unit. It’s lightweight and easy to carry, and you can take it wherever your day takes you, even if there’ll be a splash or two. And it has some good features, a virtual assistant, and a more than decent sound.
So, let’s have a closer look…
How would we describe this build quality? Quite a change from the original. The original SoundLink Color was a smooth, hard plastic affair with just a little rubber edging. This revised edition is covered entirely in silicone rubber.
The obvious one means it can withstand a bit of splashing or a downpour. But it is also likely to fare better if you drop it, and it certainly feels far more substantial. It actually now feels quite a rugged little speaker. We use the word ‘little’ because it measures just 2.2 by 5 by 5.2 inches and weighs just 1.2 pounds.
It has a weather rating of IPX4. IPX 7 or 8 are waterproof, which means they can be submerged in water for a brief time. Submerge this, and you won’t need ’50 Ways to leave your lover’, just one. IPX4 is ‘water-resistant’ – a big difference. But it is still better than nothing. Bit of water splashed from the pool or a light shower, and it will be fine.
It has a built-in Lithium-ion battery that will give you up to 8 hours of use. Not the longest we’ve seen on a speaker like this. And so if you’re using it for a day out, you might find it starts to go a little quiet towards the end of the day.
It is charged using the micro-USB connection, and a full charge takes three hours. The cable is included, but unfortunately, there is no USB AC power plug. It might not be that much of a problem because any standard phone or other device chargers will probably suffice.
It has twin 40mm drivers to knock out the sound. You might feel that it is a little under-powered. We will discuss that more in our section on Sound, but they are more than capable.
This is a speaker that is designed to be easy to use and easy to carry around. The controls are not elaborate, and there is no major set up to do other than pairing. It ticks the boxes with regard to its build quality.
Twin 40mm drivers. Is that going to be enough to deliver a powerful sound? Well, it is not going to render you deaf, but for what you use it for it is adequate. But we can’t not mention a few, what we might refer to as, limitations.
Inside a fairly small room, it is going to be very good. It will fill the space with sound and a good sound at that. As the room gets larger, it will start to struggle. But then we need to remember it is not built for a concert hall. It is, though, outside where our concerns lie.
This speaker has got that ‘party or round the pool’ feel about it. It will be fine if there are half a dozen of you. But if you hope that it will handle a large outdoor bar-b-q, you might be disappointed. The sound though is quite impressive, and that’s one thing that Bose is good at. Those that have their headphones will attest to that.
It does appear to favor a certain style of music. Jazz and simple classical pieces, live music, and soft rock are all fine. Clear and concise, they are delivered with minimum distortion when it is pushed. You will notice, though, that there is not an awful lot of bass around. That is the price you pay for a compact unit with relatively small speakers.
You will also notice that if there are many instruments playing at the same time, possibly an orchestral piece, the speakers pull back a bit. This is presumably to avoid distortion.
Overall though, the sound is adequate, we wouldn’t call it good. That isn’t really possible from a speaker this size, but we would not feel let down by its general sound.
If we are going to have a moan, it would probably be here. Bose is not the only company guilty of this. But the controls or rather their descriptions for use leave a bit to be desired. You really should not have to refer to a manual to understand what they are and what they do. A little bit of thought is all it takes to make control labels self-explanatory.
They are located on the top of the speaker and are quite visible, but that is not the problem. The buttons have that rubberized feel to them, which isn’t ideal. But that isn’t the problem either. The problem is, what do they do.
There are six buttons. One is clearly for on and off, and one has a Bluetooth design. Presumably, that is for pairing though it doesn’t confirm that. There is a plus and minus sign on two others. Is that Volume up and down? The other two? What they do is unknown. Now some people are familiar with these things will understand. But others will not.
There is also the risk that they are going to wear out on their silicone surface with a lot of use. They won’t then be visible at all. Simple as they are to operate, this is not good Bose. You need to do better than that.
It is Bluetooth 4.2 compatible and has a range of 30 feet, which is standard. Voice prompts will take you through the pairing process. Pairing is quite efficient and quick and even quicker with NFC devices. It supports A2DP and AVRCP profiles. Pairing with other Bluetooth phones or devices is then easy for using your playlists or streaming music.
Should you wish, there is also a wired option with an auxiliary input. This will connect up MP3’s, phones, or tablets. There is a memory facility which will remember the last eight numbers you recently connected to. You can also connect to two different Bluetooth devices at the same time. You can then switch between them if necessary.
It is Siri, and Google enabled. Siri for use with Apple devices. There is also a built-in speakerphone to take any calls. The speaker and the mic are located on the top panel. Connectivity is then fairly basic but functional.
You are given access to the Bose Connect App. Not the most inspiring app we have ever seen, but as with most things about this speaker, it is functional. It does help when switching between devices, and you can set up your personal settings. There is also a drag and drop facility that makes connections easy.
Bose SoundLink Color II Pros & Cons
- Built-in mic for speakerphone.
- More than one device can be paired simultaneously.
- Durable silicone exterior.
- Clear sound.
- Short battery life.
- Expensive for the quality level.
Looking For More Superb Speaker Options?
With so many amazing speaker brands out there, we’re sure you must be curious. So, check out our reviews of the Best Bookshelf Speakers under 500 Dollars, the Best Floor Standing Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, and the Best Home Theater Speakers on the market.
It certainly isn’t a Bluetooth speaker system that is packed with features. It is, as we have said, functional. The sound is good but is not particularly loud, and the silicone finish is tougher than the original plastic. Though the rubberized silicone does a good job of attracting dust and other airborne materials.
It doesn’t come with an AC adapter. That is not really a problem as far as we can see. You may well be carrying a phone or tablet charger around anyway, which will do the job.
The weakest point, as far as we can see, is the controls and how they operate. Presumably easy when you have read the manual. But you shouldn’t really have to do that for a simple speaker system. Also, the battery life isn’t the longest we have seen. Eight hours isn’t a full day, and to charge it fully takes three hours.
As we said at the beginning, Bose products tend to come up a little more expensive than their equivalents. This speaker is a good example of that. For what it is, it is not a cheap option for a day at the pool.
There is enough ammunition for the anti-Bose brigade to get their teeth into. But that in our view is a little unfair. It is what it is, a simple Bluetooth speaker and not meant to be anymore. It is well-built, it is functional and does its job quite well. The sound is good, what Bose is best at, and the connections are satisfactory.
For those who are on the other side of the Bose fence, it is a product they will be pleased to own. The name will carry most of that decision, of course. The quality is just enough for us to say, it’s a decent purchase and one that will do a good job.
In our opinion, Bose should be “most at ease” with their Bose SoundLink Color II.