Bluetooth speakers usually either focus on hands-free phone support or portable audio, but the Coda One straddles both functions, and then adds a little extra. However, it also embodies the phrase, "Jack of all trades, master of none."
The device is a little bit longer and thicker than a typical smartphone, although narrower. It features speakers that round out each end, and two microphones sit near the bottom speaker. The rubbery skin makes the Coda One easy to grip, but the matte-black surface tends to hide the buttons embedded on the front and sides. However, each button can easily be found by touch.
One side of the Coda One features an on/off switch and a mini-USB charging port, while the other holds volume up and down buttons, and a mode button. The front surface of the device features what bCoda calls a Multi-Function Button (MFB). Icons on the front light up to indicate Bluetooth connection, call, and battery status.
The Coda One lacks a 1/8-inch audio output jack, which would be convenient for bypassing its own speakers to use a car or other external audio system. An audio jack would be especially useful when using the Coda One for music playback in the car.
The Coda One package includes a magnetic clip, suitable for mounting the device to a car's sun visor, charging cable, and a 12-volt power point-to-USB adapter.
Charging over USB is pretty standard for this type of device, but always welcome as it greatly broadens where it can be powered. bCoda claims 40 days of standby time and 20 hours of talk time with the Coda One's lithium-ion battery.
Supporting Bluetooth version 3.0, the Coda One works as a hands-free phone speaker and offers A2DP for audio streaming. However, compared to the highly-rated Parrot Minikit Neo, the Coda One's phone features cover only the basics. The MFB lets you answer or hang up a call, and the mode button lets you switch the audio from the device to the phone. With an iPhone paired, holding down the MFB launched Siri, opening up the ability to use the phone's voice command for making calls.
The user manual says the Coda One will require a PIN when paired with a smartphone, by default set to 0000, but the iPhone we paired it with did not ask for a PIN. When switched on, the Coda One flashes its Bluetooth connection light, and speaks out loud that it is searching for a paired phone, then announces it has paired with a phone once it finds one.