I Owe an Apology to Bluetooth Speakers Everywhere
I was wrong to doubt them. Bluetooth speakers are invaluable mobile accessories.
I recently received a portable Bluetooth speaker as a birthday gift. It’s not the most high-end model, but it also doesn’t scrape the bottom of the sketchy, no-brand potential-fire-hazard barrel. But it turned out to be a fantastic gift because 1) it wasn’t something I would ever purchase for myself, and 2) it managed to completely reinvent the way I interact with my phone.
I was previously an avowed Bluetooth speaker skeptic, but after actually living with one for a time, I have to admit I was wrong to doubt them. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I owe Bluetooth speakers everywhere a big, fat apology.
My speaker denialism was strange in that I fancy myself a techno-optimist who believes — in the grand scheme of things — technology improves the human condition (there are, of course, smart people who argue the opposite). Still, despite my faith in the march of innovation, I never gave portable Bluetooth speakers a chance; my view of them wavered between benign disinterest and proactive loathing.
Part of this skepticism has to do with my early interactions with Bluetooth tech. When it first began making its way into my gadgets, I found that it caused far more problems than it solved. I was more than willing to contend with my keyboard and mouse being physically tethered to my computer if I didn’t have to worry about maintaining a charge and to deal with constant re-pairing.
But perhaps my biggest gripe with these external speakers was that I couldn’t really fathom why they were necessary. My phone already has speakers, and I have ears — why would I need to purchase an additional accessory to get in the middle?
I use my phone’s speakers all the time. Not only do I often talk to people in “hands-free” mode, but I couldn’t imagine doing chores around the house without a podcast, Spotify, or streaming radio playing in the background. The internet provides the soundtrack to my home, but phones simply can’t cut it as full-fledged speakers, not even my fantastic Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge (the Cadillac of 2016’s Android devices).
As an avid phone-blaster, I resigned myself to a life of tinny, not-quite-loud-enough sonics. This loss in audio quality seemed a small price to pay for having access to a near-unlimited buffet of content.
But there doesn’t have to be a tradeoff. With my new Bluetooth speaker, I am able to hear… more. There’s a strange influx of bass that I never thought available in an audio stream. Now, I can fill an entire room with the sounds of the internet and add a soundtrack to my yard work.
I still find little usefulness in truly portable clippable speakers, like the JBL Clip 2, which encourages users to become living, walking speakers out in public spaces (In fact, I’m annoyed by those who blast their music while on the street.) But when it comes to experiencing audio in one’s own home, an external Bluetooth speaker is the most necessary accessory in the mobile age.
It is incumbent upon all people — particularly journalists — to reevaluate their ideas from time to time. And when confronted with new information, it may be necessary to not only change one’s mind, but to admit when you are wrong. So I must admit that I was wrong about external Bluetooth speakers.
For the record, I still think that pricey smartwatches are completely pointless.
Read more: “The Best Cheap Bluetooth Speakers (Under $100)”
Originally published at www.pcmag.com.