With so many cheap, tiny and crappy speakers out there, can the tiny and affordable JBL Clip+ really shine in that over-saturated segment of portables? I used it for a few weeks just to get a sense.
The Clip+ is water-resistant and really small, like palm-sized - though its 5 hour battery life means that you'll have to charge it more often. It also comes with a speakerphone function as standard, with pretty clear call quality. It does have a short 3.5mm cable which hides away conveniently at the back, which is a really nice touch by JBL! Using a cord instead of pairing by bluetooth saves battery (but this also means you will have to push the volume just a weenie bit more).
Pairing it up with my phone is pretty straightforward, with a bright indicator light on the front. Button config is super simple - on one side you have the Bluetooth, On/Off and Speakerphone buttons; and then you have the volume buttons on the other side. I kept pressing the wrong buttons at first as they were all designed flat! Eventually it got easier as soon as I got used to it. Bluetooth connection remained strong throughout, even with a few concrete walls in between.
Instead of the usual, I decided to put on 'Twerk it like Miley' by Brandon Beal, you know, just to see if it can get me twerkin'. Not only was I surprised by the tightness and clarity of the mids and highs, but I was also blown away by how loud it could play! The size to sound ratio was seriously disproportionate, I swear it could have come from a larger speaker! Sadly, it did not get me twerkin' as there was only a little bass. Still, given how small it is, I'm impressed by how it managed to balance naturally the mids (vocals) and highs, even at higher volumes. At top volume, the sound will mash up and distort (as expected of micro-portables like this). A well known secret to making any small speaker sound much bigger, place it in the bathroom! (Like I did) Also, I really like the carabiner clip as it makes it so convenient that I don't have to find a flat surface to place the speaker. Just clip anywhere - backpack or even your belt loop! (NSFs please don't try this in camp, please be tactical)
The Clip+ also comes with an Audio output jack which you could use to link to another speaker. However, I found out that even if you connect it to a much bigger stereo system, your music will still be 'Clip+ quality'. Audio will be in mono (not stereo), and with very little bass! The Clip+ will also continue to output audio at the same time, meaning that you can't simply use the audio connector as a headphone jack. So there really is no point using that audio output unless you want to connect another Clip+ to make it dual-channel mono.
I've tried a lot of other small, affordable speakers and really, it's hard to find an alternative that would sound just as good, and at that size! If I had to squeeze that brain a little, the only other competitor to this speaker is the slightly larger and longish Creative Muvo Mini portable ($99), which sometimes costs around $20 less on promo. Still, I prefer the Clip+ for its smoother, more natural audio quality, better portability, and of course, its handy carabiner clip. At $109, it comes in 8 feisty colors, (black, teal, red, gray, orange, pink, blue and yellow).