Name: Otone Audio Soundship Micro
Type: Bluetooth speaker
Specifications: Click here for full specs
Price as reviewed: £99.99
Can a novel design and an affordable price tag elevate Otone Audio's Soundship Micro above the bigger names in the speaker industry? Read our full review to find out!
Just as the Ultimate Ears Boom was cylindrical, and the Creative Airwaves HD seemingly took its inspiration from a Toblerone, Otone Audio's new Soundship Micro Bluetooth speaker is quite literally "thinking out of the box" when it comes to design. Egg-shaped, it doesn't look unlike a UFO, as well as looking not dissimilar to the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin docks. Made almost entirely of plastics, with a mixture of chrome volume buttons and Otone Audio's signature pea-green details on display, it's a quirky-looking product that may be an acquired taste for some. At 115x 250 x 45 mm and weighing 0.53kg, it's a little on the larger side of "portable", but not so hefty as to make a trip to the park with it a chore.
Central to the Soundship Micro's design is its pop-out stand. A firm push on the green wedge in the centre of the speaker gives the roly-poly unit a base to prop itself up on, as well as revealing a microUSB charging port, aimed at Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 handsets, though suitable for most Android phones with a centrally-located microUSB charging port. With so many smartphones sporting this sort of connection, it's nice to see Otone Audio looking beyond the standard Apple iPhone charging dock here. A 3.5mm jack is also present, should your audio source device require it.
Pushing out the central area also reveals a standard USB connection on the end of a retractable cord, which (when plugged into the included USB wall charger) powers the Soundship Micro's internal battery and connected smartphone. With so many moving parts, the Soundship Micro doesn't feel quite as robust as some other Bluetooth speakers we've tried recently, leaving us worried about the overall durability of the speaker. Parts creak audibly when pressure is applied, and the overall build lacks the polish that some other speakers, like the UE Boom, present. However, given the speaker is a full £70 cheaper than the Logitech model, it's a reasonable trade off. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" applies here.
Activating the Soundship Micro's Bluetooth connection is elegantly handled though - popping out the central green area immediately puts the speaker into Bluetooth scanning mode, letting your smartphone or audio device connect to it, while popping it back out at a later date sees it remember the last device it was partnered with.
Sonically, the Soundship Micro punches above its weight. Hitting loud volume levels, there's only a hint of distortion at the upper volume limits. Crisp and balanced, there's just the right amount of bass response from the speaker, giving a little warmth without overpowering the overall sound. There's surprisingly good stereo separation from the two 40mm full-range drivers used here too, giving a nicely detailed output, particularly if you're listening to the speaker while being within fairly close proximity to it.
As for battery life, the Soundship Micro performed well. Though the duration of a charge will differ depending on the volume level you set the speaker at, our tests showed you can expect to squeeze on average eight hours out of a single charge at moderately loud levels. As well as showing Bluetooth connectivity, a front LED will keep you informed of when battery levels are running low too.
The Soundship Micro makes use of an interesting design, and is able to deliver pleasing sounds from its ovoid shape. While the build quality and materials used leave a little to be desired, at the relatively low price point it is hard to be too picky. If you're looking to beef up your outdoor tunes on the cheap, it's not a bad option. Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 users in particular should give it a look.