Bluetooth speakers come in many shapes and sizes. Some will take up half the space of your night stand. Others are small enough to fit in your backpack or travel bag. The BlueTune Bean easily fits in your hand. It’s called the bean because of its shape. Its oval-shaped. The back, opposite to the speaker, is flat, so it can be placed on a surface.
The speaker, despite it’s small size, is surprisingly loud. I took it to my morning kickboxing class and we used it for music. The comment was the same from everyone in the room, “Man, that’s pretty loud.” It was loud enough to play back music and to chime between our 3-minute boxing drills. In the practice environment, the range was acceptable. It worked up to 20-30 feet before signal started dropping. Keep in mind that there were no walls or obstacles between the iPhone 5 and the Bean. In my single-bedroom apartment, the range was a bit shorter, but it’s perfect for charging the iPhone on my iMac while I carry the speaker around as I clean the apartment.
The Bean feels very solid. We haven’t given it any sort of a drop test, but it feels sturdy enough to survive. It’s hard plastic surrounded by a thin rubber skin. You probably don’t have to worry about it breaking with a good drop (for instance, if you happened to drop it 4-6 feet while trying to attach it to your jacket or backpack), even on cement.
Useful is the metal ring with the attached carabiner. You can clip it to a backpack or a belt loop. This was great for times when I wanted to cook or clean around the house and just set my iPhone down somewhere. The fact that it has a built-in microphone means that I can answer the phone and converse while my iPhone stays on the charger.
The speakerphone works well enough for use in the kitchen or while sitting at your desk. It’s more ideal than using the built-in one or holding the phone if you happen to be in your car. The friend on the other line said things sounded just fine on his end.
The speaker charges via micro-USB. The cable is included in the packaging, but you will need a wall adapter or a computer to plug into. The cable is very short, so you may not be able to do much when it’s plugged in, but the speaker is loud enough to fill the average bedroom. You won’t have to worry much about charging it with regular use. It has a six hour battery. I used it daily at the gym for roughly an hour a day, and didn’t have to charge it until four days later. Obviously, that’s with use of roughly an hour to an hour and a half a day.
The biggest advantage to the Bean is the price. It costs $30. That’s less than some cases, and definitely less than most Bluetooth speakers we’ve come across. It’s a small mono speaker, but it does what it’s made to do, and it does it well.
Editor’s note: We were provided a free review unit of the Bean.