GadgeTell Review: Brookstone Big Blue Live Bluetooth wireless speaker

Sections: Accessories, Accessories, Audio, Communications, Computers, Mobile, Mobile Computers, Portable Audio, Smartphones, Speakers

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What is being reviewed?

Up for review today is the Brookstone Big Blue Live Bluetooth wireless speaker. The speaker is selling for $99.99 and is currently available by way of the Brookstone website.

Disclaimer: The Big Blue Live Bluetooth wireless speaker was provided to GadgeTell by Brookstone for the purpose of this review.

The specs

The Big Blue Live Bluetooth wireless speaker measures in at 5 x 2.5 x 2.36 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds. The speaker features Bluetooth 2.0 along with an 1150 mAh rechargeable battery and is charged/powered by a regular AC wall adapter. In terms of the speakers and other goodies, the Big Blue Live has a 4W (2W per channel) output, a passive bass radiator, built-in microphone and an AUX in jack.

My thoughts

Lets see, as someone who often uses/used the built-in speakers on my mobile devices (iPhone and iPad), the Big Blue Live wireless speaker is huge step up. Of course, as anyone who has used those devices to listen to audio will likely realize — that is not saying all that much. But with a poor comparison aside, I will say that the Big Blue Live brings a really nice sound. Granted, the speaker is not going to blow the roof off or shatter any windows, but realistically speaking, that is not the point.

In my experience the Big Blue Live was able to provide a rather decent sound quality with a variety of audio types including, but not being limited to streaming music (Slacker Radio) and podcasts (downloaded using Downcast) as well as audio for streaming video such as Hulu Plus and Netflix. Basically, a mix of music and spoken word. Simply put, regardless of what we were playing, the Big Blue Live came out a winner.

As for use, the out-of-box experience was simple. Almost refreshing in a world of sometimes complicated gadgets. Coming out of the box required a bit of charging time, but otherwise, it was a simple matter of pairing the speaker with your device (in my case, an iPhone). The speaker ships with a USB cable and an AC wall adapter. And aside from the charging time, the process from box to listening was just about a minutes time.

Once paired and listening, all of the audio is still controlled from your device. You use the same apps and same process that you would if you were listening directly through your device. In other words, the Big Blue Live does not require any apps to be installed before use. Of course, that is not to say you cannot control anything from the speaker itself. The Big Blue Live has a reverse and forward button as well as a volume up and volume down button. And yes, the buttons work within apps. In my case, I was able to skip tracks (from the Big Blue Live) while playing Slacker Radio on my iPhone. In addition, the speaker also has a power button and a call button.

Which brings me to my next point — the Big Blue Live can also handle your calls. You see, this is a Bluetooth speaker, which means that it is also a speakerphone. And in this case, the call quality was more than acceptable. Furthermore, the people on the other end of the calls seemed to enjoy this a bit more. Well, at least in my experience I was getting less complaints about having people on speakerphone when I was using the Big Blue Live.

And given this is a regular Bluetooth speaker, it can also be paired with a notebook and/or netbook, which depending on what you are using, the Big Blue Live could be nice for those times when you are streaming movies.

The bottom line

All said and done, I really like this little guy. I would not hesitate to offer a recommendation to a friend, family member or reader. The speaker comes in at $99.99, which is a seemingly fair price to pay.

A few of the perks — surprisingly good sound quality and a small footprint that will take up little room on your desk or in a bag should you take this on the go. It is also a nice touch to have the AUX in jack for times when you want to listen to a non-Bluetooth capable device, which in my case was an iPod nano.

As far as a drawback, nothing major and nothing that you would not get with any other Bluetooth wireless speaker. For example, this brings another set of lights to remember (for low battery, pairing and such). Otherwise, the only other point worth mentioning is that batteries sometimes run out of juice when not plugged in. Nonetheless, we were able to get more than a few hours listening time before the party came to an end.

With that, if you are looking for a small-sized portable Bluetooth speaker/speakerphone you should have the Big Blue Live on your list of possibilities.

Product [Brookstone Big Blue Live Bluetooth wireless speaker]

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  • Tim Yee

    Question: On the Big Blue Studio does it need to be plugged into a wall outlet? Can it be portable if you were near no power supply?