Price (RRP): $499
The Bose Portable Home speaker has pretty much everything you could want. First, it speaks Goggle and Alexa (no Siri); can stream over Wi-Fi any music or podcast service that Google/Alexa/Bose App supports; and is a battery-operated BT speaker – go anywhere.
But there is a little more to it. The Bose Portable Home speaker shares similar design cues to the Bose Revolve+, including the ‘milk-can’ shape and handle. It is also part of the new Smart Home family – Bose Home 300 and 500, Bose Soundbar 500 and 700, surround speakers and bass modules 500 and 700.
So the Bose Portable Home speaker may be the one you buy to do a lot more than say OK Google. And if you don’t need voice assistants don’t forget the SoundLink Revolve+ that is now a more affordable $299 (shop online – usually $499).
What is the Bose Portable Home speaker?
There are a few important points:
- It is a mono 360° speaker – sound comes from all around
- As it is a voice-activated speaker, you can get an optional charge base for semi-fixed placement
- Size (handle down): 19.15cm (h) and 11.9cm (round) x 1.06kg
- It works with Bose Smart Home speakers in multi-room setups (not the Bose SoundTouch range) but not as a stereo pair yet (update to come)
- The Bose Music App (Android or iOS) adds limited value (Spotify Premium – not the free version or TuneIn)
- AirPlay 2 support is good
- BT 4.2 and SBC codec for CD-quality – not for high-res content
Wi-Fi AC dual band – but select 2.4Ghz for maximum distance from the router
- It is IPX4 – light spray water-resistant (not waterproof)
- Battery life is up to 12 hours on a 4-hour charge
- Acoustically it is like the Bose Home 300 and little louder than the Revolve+
- Dual far-field mics and manual isolation switch
- No Aux-In – Manual select Wi-Fi AC dual-band or BT (connect to one device only)
- Website here
- And in true Bose fashion – no detailed specifications are given
- Triple Black or Lux Silver
- Price: $499.95
OK, you buy Bose because you are a fan and you don’t need to ask the price.
Setup – easy EXCEED
- Download the Bose Music app and create an account (if you do not have one already)
- Make sure your smartphone has BT enabled as the speaker uses it for setup
- Once located, select Wi-Fi, add music services (or use Google or Alexa for this)
- Pair to Google or Alexa (not both)
It’s a foolproof system, and if there are issues, you reset it by pressing BT and Volume Up.
OK Google and Alexa – PASSable
We tested with Google Assistant, and it does most things that a Google Home speaker does. We assume that same of Alexa. But a shortcoming is lack of Broadcast on Google or Drop-in on Alexa.
The four far-field mics are good to about four metres and when music volume is <70%.
But it is not a Chromecast speaker so we can only give it a PASSable here.
Battery – EXCEED
Bose claims 12 hours, but that is in a lab. We set it up at 50% volume, and it merrily plays Xmas songs for 12 long hours before I went crazy! Higher volumes reduce battery life – but we were too Xmas ‘schmaltzed’ out to for much longer.
The four-hour charge is correct. It uses UCB-C 5V/3A charger and USB-C to USB-C cable (both supplied) and is PD compatible so you can use any PD charger – but it does not shorten charge time.
You can check the battery level via voice prompt or the Bose Music App.
One issue – if you use it as a voice speaker, you need to keep it on power – it will drain the battery in 24 hours otherwise. The optional charge cradle is handy and costs $39.95 although the USB-C charger provided is pretty discrete.
BT – PASS
It uses BT 4.2 and the SBC codec. Maximum distance from the smartphone is under 20 metres.
Sound – EXCEED with caveats
Bose are masters of synthetic sound – tuning the speaker and its digital analogue converter to deliver a typical Bose ‘sculpted’ sound. Perhaps why there is only a very basic bass/treble EQ in the app.
You need to couple that with the fact that there is one down-firing speaker into a 360° baffle and we understand three passive radiators to reinforce the bass. So, while it can produce a reasonably full sound spectrum, it can be flawed with the wrong content. Don’t get me wrong – I like Bose sound, and in a portable it is perfect – but to a trained ear, it is manufactured.
Volume was quite loud at 82dB. There was a certain harshness but backing off to 75dB fixed that.
- Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
- Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – building to quite strong
- High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat (that means good)
- Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
- Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
- High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
- Low-treble: 2-4kHz – slight decline
- Treble:4-6kHz – flat but beginning to break up
- High Treble: 6-10kHz – a slight decline (to remove treble harshness)
- Dog whistle: 10-20 – flat and decline after 15kHz
Technically this is ‘warm and sweet’, ideal for movies or music. But there is something awry with the top end that starts declining from about 2kHz instead of from 6kHz – it can be a bit thin for instrumentals.
GadgetGuy’s take – Bose Portable Home speaker is in an increasingly crowded market
You buy Bose because you usually buy Bose. And you will not be disappointed.
It is great as a voice-operated speaker in small to mid-sized rooms. We say that because you don’t want to drive it too hard – 60-70% volume is its sweet spot.
Outdoors it is a fine BT speaker, but there are higher rated IPX7 speakers for that. And do you want to take a $499 Portable Home Speaker to the beach and get sand and water in/on its lovely visage?
But Sonos, JBL, LG, Sony, Google Nest, Lenovo and brands we don’t see here all have reasonable offerings as Google Home or Alexa Speakers.
The main advantage of this is portability, so it stacks mainly up against the new IP56 rated, stereo (and stereo pairable) $699 Sonos Move and IPX7 waterproof JBL Link 10 and 20. There are external Ninety7 portable power bases for Google Nest Home and mini.
In the Alexa camp, its own Echo battery and other makers are starting to make portables.
And the irony is that Google and Alexa only work over Wi-Fi, so the moment you step out of Wi-Fi range, these are all BT speakers.
As I said if you are a Bose fan, then this is perfect. If you don’t need voice assistance then look at the Revolve+.