The latest piece of consumer electronics that has been sent my way to review is the August SE50 Bluetooth Boombox with FM radio. Essentially, it’s a standard clock radio, but with a Bluetooth facility for connecting smartphones and the like to it.
It arrived last week and has kept Christine and I company in the new house over the weekend. It’s quite big – 30 centimetres wide, or around a foot for those who use old school measurements. The casing is wood, and there are two 15 watt speakers either side of the central console. On the front is the time, and on top are the controls.
The boombox essentially has three modes – Bluetooth, FM radio, and auxiliary. It should pair with any device that supports Bluetooth audio – I only tried it with my iPhone, with which it worked fine. Alternatively, there’s an FM radio with up to 10 presets, and there’s a 3.5mm audio jack on the back for auxiliary input from any device that doesn’t have Bluetooth, like older iPods. As well as volume controls, there’s a play/pause button on the speaker for Bluetooth devices, where supported.
Power is via a DC adaptor, with a variety of different plugs for use in most countries. There’s no internal battery, and if left unplugged, the clock (and presumably also the FM presets) resets. Plus, the design of it, whilst attractive, means that it’s not really suited to outdoor use.
I would describe the sound quality as ‘not bad’. The bass is good, and it should be able to get quite loud – I only tested it at normal volumes because I don’t want to annoy our new neighbours. The range on the Bluetooth radio isn’t fantastic and it gets rather choppy if you take your phone into another room. Mind you, the new house has rather thick walls. I didn’t test the FM radio but the aerial does extend far more than shown in the photo, if needed.
On the whole it’s a good device, with a few cavetas. The sound quality is reasonably good, and it’s an attractive unit that looks well-built. An internal battery would be nice, but I suppose it’s not really necessary – I expect this to be the sort of device that stays in one place, and not used as a portable speaker. It’s good for the bedroom, although there’s no alarm despite the presence of a time display. It’s currently on sale from Amazon for around £35.