Portable Speakers

Oaxis Bento Speaker Review: Close Contact Induction Magic

What if I told you magic was real?

Well, I’d be lying but the Oaxis Bento certainly seems magical, summoning your phone’s music to the speaker without wires or Bluetooth.

What Is It?

The Oaxis Bento is a speaker that supports playing music via close contact induction. Just place your smartphone playing music onto the platform to instantly amplify your music. 3.5mm audio input is also available.

Thanks to Make The One for sending me a sample to review. It can be purchased via Amazon or Make The One directly.

Oaxis Bento Technical Specifications

  • Speaker Power: 2 x 2.5W,S/N 75dB
  • Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20kHz
  • Connectivity: Close Contact Induction, 3.5mm
  • Battery: Built in Rechargeable Lithium-Ion (1000mAh)
  • Playback Time: up to 6 hours continuous play
  • Charge Time: 3 hours
  • Power: micro USB port for charging
  • Size: 186 x 127 x 65 mm
  • Weight: 500g

What’s in the Box?

Oaxis-Bento-Box

Inside the box, Oaxis have provided all the necessary cables:

  • 1x Oaxis Bento Induction Speaker
  • 1x Micro USB charging cable
  • 1x 3.5mm Male-Male Audio Cable
  • 1x English Instruction Manual

Oaxis-Bento-Inside-The-Box

There’s unfortunately no power supply included inside the box. However, the Oaxis Bento only requires a 5V 0.5A power source, so any USB port should do.

Oaxis Bento Design

The Oaxis Bento won the iF Design Award 2014 and it’s not surprising why. The speaker looks like its straight from the future. The cylindrical case is relatively minimalist, with a small power LED on the front of the unit.

Oaxis-Bento-Front

The power button, 3.5mm audio input and micro USB charging port located on the back.

Oaxis-Bento-Back

However, it’s the red speaker grill that’s incredibly striking. Reminiscent of a black hole, the red surface curves into the body that houses two upward-firing 2.5W 40mm drivers. Thanks to the curved surface, it not only looks incredible but it also allows the speaker to offer 360-degree sound. Those wanting a brighter color scheme can opt for the white and emerald version.

The whole unit was a little bigger than I was expecting, but given that it’s designed to hold the latest big screen smartphones, I really shouldn’t have been surprised. This is definitely a speaker for the home rather than something you can chuck in a bag to take with you.

Using It

The Oaxis Bento runs off an internal battery that’s charged by micro USB. It takes around 3 hours to fully charge, with the red power LED turning off when charging is complete. It doesn’t seem like you can use the speaker whilst it’s charging, which is an odd choice.

Oaxis-Bento-01

The top plate is where the Oaxis Bento performs its magic. After aligning your device’s speaker(s) with the guide, you just hit play on your smartphone and the Bento automatically starts amplifying your music, with its power LED flashing blue with the beat. Aligning your phone on the guide is easy but failing to do so does cause a loss in sound quality.

It’s impressive when you experience the close contact induction in the flesh. It really does feel like some sort of magic is at play here, even though that magic is actually good ‘ol physics.

Oaxis-Bento-03

The electromagnetic induction tech only works if your device has external speakers. Thankfully, you can use the included 3.5mm audio cable to connect the device to the speaker directly.

Volume and playback control is handled entirely by your smartphone, much like some Bluetooth speakers. When using the 3.5mm connection, this works just fine, allowing you to listen to your music as quietly or loudly as you want. However, as induction relies on being able to pick up the electromagnetic signals from the speaker, the induction element only works when your phone’s volume is above a certain level. This rules out any sort of quiet listening but is perfect when you want to crank up your favorite track.

Battery life is rated at around 6 hours, but this will depend on the speakers’ volume.

Oaxis Bento Audio Quality

The Oaxis Bento’s audio quality is good, but there is a distinct difference in quality between the 3.5mm audio and close contact induction. However, it’s clear this variability is ultimately a result of the technology at work here.

The speaker is loud and can easily fill a medium-sized room. Switching over to induction does take a hit to the volume but not massively so.

Oaxis-Bento-02

When connecting up the speaker via the 3.5mm audio cable, audio is nice and clear, offering a good balance between bass and clarity.

Switching over to the Bento’s close contact induction connection,  the audio does sound slightly muffled compared to its 3.5mm connection. It’s infinitely better than your phone’s inbuilt speakers and much louder, but there’s a loss in fidelity.

Music-wise, it’s clear that the close contact induction technology definitely responds to bass better than high frequencies. Bass-heavy tracks tend to see highs being overpowered by the lows. However, more balanced tracks are reproduced reasonably clearly.

Should I get one?

The Oaxis Bento is an good speaker with great design. It’s unique induction tech is definitely more than a gimmick, creating a speaker that can’t be easier to use. It’s great to be able to set your phone down and have the music play without needing to plug in or pair anything. It was a massive plus when showing music to friends, being able to swap between devices essentially instantly.

It’s a shame that audio quality varies when using the induction feature, particularly when playback via the 3.5mm connection allows the speaker to really shine with great sounding audio.

Overall, the Oaxis Bento is a good speaker with a really unique trick. As long as you’re ok with the limitations of the close contact induction technology, you won’t be disappointed.

Getting One

The Oaxis Bento is available from Amazon or Make The One.

Additional Images

 

Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth Speaker Review: Amazingly Powerful

The Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth speaker is an impressive package. Packing two deceptively powerful stereo speakers into a tiny box, Xiaomi’s new bluetooth speaker sounds fantastic whilst sipping power thanks to its use of Bluetooth 4.0.

Thanks to GearBest for providing a sample to review.

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What is it?

The Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth speaker is a portable speaker that can play music from your phone or other Bluetooth device wirelessly. It supports true stereo sound and features a built-in 1200mAh battery that should be good for around 10 hours of playback.

XiaoMi-Stereo-Bluetooth-Speaker-Box-Front

Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth Speaker Technical Specifications

  • Speaker Power: 2 x 2.5W,S/N 80dB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0+EDR (A2DP, AVRCP)
  • Range: Approx. 10m
  • Battery: 1200mAh
  • Power: USB 2.0 port for charging
  • Size: 154.5 x 62 x 25.3mm
  • Weight: 415g

What’s in the box?

XiaoMi-Stereo-Bluetooth-Speaker-Box-Front

It almost feels pointless writing this section. Xiaomi have given the bare minimum here, clearly to keep costs down. You get the speaker itself and the packaging doubles as its instruction manual.

No charger or cables are provided, but as the device charges via micro USB, most should have a spare charger lying around.

Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth Speaker Design

XiaoMi-Stereo-Bluetooth-Speaker-Front-03

The Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth Speaker is incredibly attractive. Utilising a minimalistic retro-inspired design, the speaker is white with a brushed metal band which loops around the outside. This band houses the speakers only port and button, with a power button, dual-color Power LED and micro USB port for charging.

XiaoMi-Stereo-Bluetooth-Speaker-Ports

Rubber feet underneath the device prevent the speaker from vibrating the surface it’s on to keep audio clean and minimize distortion.

It’s also compact. Weighing in at around 400g and just 25cm deep, the Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth speaker is perfect for portability.

Keeping up with Xiaomi’s excellent reputation for build quality, everything on the device is precisely finished. The company has an eye for detail, with each speaker grill hole precisely cut. It rivals the precision and quality of products five times the price.

XiaoMi-Stereo-Bluetooth-Speaker-Front-02

Using It

Though the manual is entirely in Chinese, using the Xiaomi Bluetooth speaker is incredibly easy.

Just turn it on by holding down the power button down and select “Mi Bluetooth Speaker” in the Bluetooth menu on your smartphone or other Bluetooth-compatible audio source to pair. I didn’t have any issues pairing it to an iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S4.

The device can only be paired to one device at a time. Attempting to pair another device times out, so you’ll need to unpair which automatically puts the device back into pairing mode.

XiaoMi-Stereo-Bluetooth-Speaker-Front-04

Volume and playback control is handled entirely by your phone or tablet. It would have been great to see basic multimedia controls such as forward/next on the device to make controlling music easier when your phone’s in your pocket. It’s not a big issue but it’s also noticeably absent.

To Xiaomi’s credit, they have tucked away one hidden control, with a press of the power button acting as play/pause.

XiaoMi-Stereo-Bluetooth-Speaker-Back

Xiaomi claims the in-built 1200mAh should be good for up to 10 hours of playback and I must be approaching that figure without any loss in performance.

Range also wasn’t an issue during testing. Despite being 10m apart with a couple of walls inbetween, music kept playing with only the occasional dropout.

Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth Speaker Sound Quality

Given its tiny 2.5W speakers, I expected the device to be quiet and hollow-sounding. However, I was impressed with both the sound quality and volume.

Each speaker is independent, meaning you’re getting true stereo rather than being downmixed mono. This is a massive improvement over many of the Bluetooth speakers in the market and makes listening to tracks who rely on stereo effects sound like they should.

The speaker is also reasonably loud. Its powerful enough to fill a medium-sized room and still offer a pleasant listening experience.

The high and mid ranges sound good and bass has plenty of punch. Interestingly, I found it was a little bass-heavy for my liking but that’s more a personal taste and can be readily tweaked using an equalizer in your favorite music app. It’s strange to complain about excess bass when most Bluetooth speakers sound tinny thanks to their tiny drivers.

Cranking the speaker up to its maximum volume, there wasn’t any sign of distortion. Impressive.

I was admittedly worried that its loudness plus its tiny frame would cause the speaker to move. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded, with the speaker not budging at all during my testing.

Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth Speaker Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Impressive Audio Quality
  • Stereo Audio
  • Bluetooth 4.0 support
  • Respectable Battery life

Cons

  • No 3.5mm input
  • No playback controls/microphone on device
  • Lack of international manual

Getting One

I got my Xiaomi Stereo Bluetooth speaker from GearBest.

Check Price

Alternatively, it’s also available from Amazon, Banggood and GeekBuying.