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Which? uncovers the best portable Bluetooth speakers for summer

If you’re simply looking for something to throw in your backpack before you head out the door or a speaker that’s a little more special, there’s plenty to choose from this summer. From ?50 to a few hundred pounds, we’ve reviewed portable Bluetooth speakers from Bose, Sony, Ultimate Ears and more. Here, we take a look at the latest speakers at a range of price points, most of which promise rigorous, waterproof design and portability, without compromising on sound quality.

Our panel of expert ears has carefully listened to every wireless speaker, judging sound quality across a range of genres. Our rigorous lab tests uncover the easiest speakers to use and those that will last the longest, with one speaker playing for a remarkable 29 hours. Wireless and Bluetooth speaker reviews[1] – see lab results for all the models we’ve tested

Best portable Bluetooth speakers under ?100

Sony SRS-XB10, ?50

Despite its diminutive size, this Sony speaker bears the ‘Extra Bass’ branding that promises a bigger hit at the lower end. For a palm-sized speaker, the claimed 16-hour battery life is impressive. But did it last that long in our tests?

And was sound as punchy as promised? Read our expert Sony SRS-XB10 review[2] to find out.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom, ?80

Ultimate Ears has become well known for its durable, lightweight portable speakers. The Wonderboom is one of the smallest yet, but with all the same hallmarks as its bigger brothers, it’s set to impress.

The 10-hour battery is more modest than the Sony’s, but is sound quality better? Find out in our full Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review[3].

Sony SRS-XB20, ?100

Officially the slightly larger sibling of the Sony speaker above, looking at the shape and style of the SRS-XB20 you’d hardly realise they were related. This one comes in a more traditional oblong shape but with an unusual flashing light-show effect.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but is it worth seeking out for sound quality alone? Our Sony SRS-XB20 review reveals all.[4]

Best portable Bluetooth speakers under ?150

JBL Flip 4, ?120

The cylindrical shape is a staple of the wireless speaker market now, promising a better spread of sound around a room. This one from audio specialist JBL is its latest offering.

Available in a variety of eye-catching colours, the Flip 4 certainly stands out from the crowd. But did it stand out for sound in our tests, too? Find out in our JBL Flip 4 review[5].

Bose SoundLink Color II, ?130

The second crack of the whip of a popular Bose wireless speaker, the SoundLink Color II arrives amid huge expectations.

It now comes with an easier-on-the-eye waterproof design. Despite its great reputation, the American audio stalwarts have missed the mark on occasion. Find out if this is a hit in our expert Bose SoundLink Color II review[6].

B&O Beoplay P2, ?135

You know you’ll get a well-made piece of kit from B&O, but sometimes it’s style over substance.

However, the Beoplay P2 seems to have put style to the side. Although it still has a touch of B&O’s signature design, this is a compact, understated Bluetooth speaker. It’s more expensive than most in this size, but is it worth the extra cash?

Take a look at our full B&O Beoplay P2 review[7] to find out.

Sony SRS-XB30, ?150

Another Sony Bluetooth speaker from the ‘Extra Bass’ line-up, the SRS-XB30 has the same flashing light show as the SRS-XB20, but promises a bigger 24-hour battery to accompany the louder sound. It’s big enough to produce some proper power but it’s not all about the bass. Is this the perfect portable wireless speaker you’re looking for?

Find out in our expert Sony SRS-XB30 review.[8]

Best premium portable Bluetooth speakers

Bose SoundLink Revolve, ?200

A new addition to the Bose wireless speaker line-up, the SoundLink Revolve sees it finally jump on the cylindrical-speaker bandwagon. Designed to spread sound all around a room, this Bluetooth speaker promises great party sound, whether that’s indoors or out. But will it have your friends dancing or leaving?

Find the full results of our independent tests in our Bose SoundLink Revolve review[9].

B&O Beolit 17, ?400

A big and bulky speaker, the B&O Beolit 17 promises hi-fi quality sound in a handy battery-powered form. But at ?400 this is one of the most expensive portable Bluetooth speakers we’ve put through our lab tests. So is it worth splashing out on this high-price speaker, or are you simply paying a premium for stylish design?

Read our expert B&O Beolit 17 review[10] to find out.

References

  1. ^ Wireless and Bluetooth speaker reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Sony SRS-XB10 review (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Sony SRS-XB20 review (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ JBL Flip 4 review (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Bose SoundLink Color II review (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ B&O Beoplay P2 review (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ Sony SRS-XB30 review (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ Bose SoundLink Revolve review (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ B&O Beolit 17 review (www.which.co.uk)

Vertu goes bankrupt: farewell to the world’s most unnecessarily expensive smartphone

?128 million deep in debt, smartphone brand Vertu is officially bankrupt.

200 UK jobs will be lost as it shuts down all manufacturing, with owner Murat Hakan Uzan only offering to pay creditors ?1.9 million of the debts owed. If you haven’t heard of Vertu before we can’t say we blame you – its products aren’t exactly for everyone. It presented itself as the ‘purveyor of the finest luxury mobile phones’.

You certainly can’t argue with the aesthetics, as handsets come in such decadent cladding as titanium and alligator-hide leather, but the technical specifications were often far from top-of-the-range. However, you didn’t just get a smartphone when buying a Vertu – you also got a full concierge service. The price of each handset also included 18-month access to a personal concierge.

This acted as a ‘lifestyle manager’, which would provide you with ‘discreet and personalised 24/7 assistance worldwide’. Currently the services section[1] of the Vertu website says it has suspended those services with the view of relaunching them, better than ever, in September 2017. Whoops.

Best Buy mobile phones[2] – Find out which handsets we think are really worth your money

All beauty and no brains?

Sure, a mobile phone that costs more than a new car sounds ridiculous, but if you have the money to spare and are looking for something special then it’s not necessarily the worst investment in the world. Or is it? Perhaps the biggest oversight of Vertu’s line of handsets is that for all the money being asked, their tech specs simply aren’t that impressive on paper.

Take a look at the handsets below alongside some technologically comparable handsets from more reputable, affordable brands.

Signature

Left: Vertu Signature, Right: BlackBerry Curve 9320

As the name, and price, suggests, this is Vertu’s flagship handset. When it was first released in 2008 it made a lot more sense – or at least as much sense as a ?39,000 mobile phone could. Almost ten years on and its continued existence is absolutely baffling.

You don’t need to be a tech buff to realise that something is seriously wrong just from looking at the specs below. The Vertu Signature isn’t even a smartphone – it has functionality similar to most other handsets released in 2008, a time when the first iPhone was on sale, but most people were still using more basic handsets. Whilst woefully lacking in features it is at least available in a wide variety of styles.

The cheapest model is made of stainless steel and black leather with a single button made of ruby, but more expensive options feature mother of pearl inlays, sapphire-faced keys, 18 carat gold detailing and polished black sapphire inlays. Nice and subtle. Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

Speaking of failing brands, how about a BlackBerry?

The Curve 9320[3] offers all of the above but for a far more reasonable ?110 (that’s 1/100th of Signature’s cheapest price). It also has a full QWERTY keyboard rather than a standard number pad, plus an actual app store. Of course it’s hardly the newest or best phone on the market right now, but that shows just how much of a dinosaur the Vertu Signature really is.

What else could you buy for the price? A two bedroom terraced house in Darlington.

Signature Touch

Left: Vertu Signature Touch, Right: OnePlus 3T

The Signature Touch is a handset that actually looks like it belongs in the smartphone era, thanks to its touchscreen and 4G capability. It’s not exactly an iPhone killer, but compared to the Signature it’s a steal at a mere ?7,500.

Take note that the version of Android it runs is almost two years out of date, as is its processor – although 4GB of RAM is actually quite impressive. It also comes clad in alligator leather or polished titanium, if that’s something you look for in a smartphone. Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

Take a look at the OnePlus 3T[4].

It’s got extremely similar specs to the Signature Touch, but for the much more palatable price of ?350 – plus no alligators were harmed in its production (we think). It also runs the latest version of Android, 7.0 Nougat. What else could you buy for the price?

You could employ a Starbucks barista to be your own personal coffee maker for a whole year.

Aster

Left: Vertu Aster, Right: Sony Xperia Z3

Just when we thought Vertu was redeeming itself with the Signature Touch, we get to the Aster. This is a mid-range smartphone in an ?8,000 body, although 64GB of internal storage is quite nice, as is 4G support. You’re not buying the Aster for its specs though – you’re buying it for its looks, and because you have more money than common sense.

How does ostrich leather sound? Brushed titanium? A chassis encrusted with 55 black and white diamonds?

All very real options that you can choose to pay through the nose for. Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

The Sony Xperia Z3[5] came out three years ago and sports very similar specifications, diamonds aside. It has less internal memory, but it does have a microSD card slot – unlike the Aster.

It’s also able to update to Android 6.0 and has a rear-facing camera that’s almost twice the resolution, all for ?320. What else could you buy for the price? A second-hand 2005 Porschse Boxter.

Constellation

Left: Vertu Constellation, Right: HTC U Ultra

Now we’re talking.

A Quad-HD screen! A shiny new high-end processor! An enormous 128GB of storage, powered by 4GB of RAM!

And all it will cost you is… oh. It’s not available. Presumably Vertu was planning on releasing the Constellation later this year, but sadly it looks like that will never happen.

Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

We can only hazard a guess at how much the Constellation would have cost had it ever seen the light of the production line, but you can get the HTC U Ultra[6] for ?590 – which is probably nearing the absolute most anyone should be looking to spend on a smartphone.

What else could you buy for the price?

We’ll never know, but presumably a lunar module or a modest Fortune 500 company.

References

  1. ^ services section (www.vertu.com)
  2. ^ Best Buy mobile phones (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Curve 9320 (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ OnePlus 3T (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Sony Xperia Z3 (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ HTC U Ultra (www.which.co.uk)

New EOS 200D is the lightest Canon DSLR ever

Canon has unveiled two new DSLR cameras – the EOS 6D Mark II and the EOS 200D. While one of the new cameras is aimed at photography pros, the other could be ideal for newbies looking to up their game. Keep scrolling for more on what to expect from the new arrivals.

Best Buy DSLR cameras[1] – take stunning pictures with these cameras

EOS 6D Mark II: for professionals

This new DSLR will catch the attention of folk who really know their way around a camera. The EOS 6D Mark II follows in the footsteps of 2015’s Canon EOS 6D[2], and it has a 26.2-megapixel sensor that Canon says will impress professionals and hobbyists alike. It’s powered by the latest DIGIC 7 processor and uses Canon’s Dual Pixel CMPS AF technology for shorter focusing times.

Built-in five-axis stabilisation makes taking pictures while moving that little bit easier, and you can tap the touchscreen display to adjust focus while filming a video. As is the case with many high-end DSLRs these days, the Mark II has wi-fi and Bluetooth support. That means you’ll be able to share your images instantly with other connected devices, and it will also let you control the camera remotely.

So what about video? The Mark II can shoot 1,080p video at 60fps, but it can’t shoot in 4K. That’s a disappointing omission considering the price.

Unsurprisingly, this new Canon doesn’t come cheap. The EOS 6D Mark II will be available this month starting at around ?2,000, which is for the body only. Wondering how Canon fares against its rivals?

Take a look at our guide to the top three camera brands for 2017[3].

EOS 200D: for newbies

While the EOS 6D Mark II is aimed at professionals with a big budget, the EOS 200D is better suited to first-time users. It has various features tucked inside, which are designed to help you share pictures and videos on social media. Canon claims this is the world’s lightest DSLR camera with a vari-angle screen and, based on its advertised weight of 453g, it’s lighter than all the other Canon DSLRs we’ve tested.

It’s also the company’s first DSLR to feature a dedicated selfie mode, which will smooth out your skin and blur what’s behind you. It’s wi-fi and Bluetooth-equipped and, as it’s compatible with smartphones, you can instantly transfer snaps to a phone with the Canon Connect app.

Dual Pixel CMOS Auto Focus will help you capture fast-moving objects. The camera also features a vari-angle touchscreen display (which can be angled depending on the situation), and a DIGIC 7 processor. We’ll have to wait for our full review to see whether the camera can really take an impressive picture. If you’re tempted by this new Canon, you’ll have to cough up around ?580.

If you’re a buyer on a budget, take a look at our guide to the top five best cheap DLSRs for 2017[4] for some other options.

How do Canon cameras fare in our lab tests?

We regularly test Canon cameras in our test lab, and our expert reviews will help you sort the top-notch cameras from the less impressive ones. Our highest-scoring Canon DSLR to date is a great fit for professional photographers, taking superbly detailed pictures and impressive high-definition video to match. You might not be after a DSLR, though.

If that’s the case, we can still lend a hand when it comes to picking a new compact camera, bridge camera or durable action cam. We test every camera for picture quality, video quality, ease of use and features. We can also help you choose wisely depending on your budget, highlighting our recommended models for less than ?500.

Our camera tests cover the latest cameras from big-name brands including Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Sony. For more on DSLR cameras, see our DSLR camera reviews[5]. Alternatively, take a look at our compact camera reviews[6], bridge camera reviews[7] and action camera reviews[8].

References

  1. ^ Best Buy DSLR cameras (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Canon EOS 6D (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ top three camera brands for 2017 (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ top five best cheap DLSRs for 2017 (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ DSLR camera reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ compact camera reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ bridge camera reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ action camera reviews (www.which.co.uk)

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