"Very surprising sound (in a good way)"5.0 starson by dcb175
Pros: Great sound quality, price, USB charging ability, easy Bluetooth pairing, volume level, built in kickstand
Cons: Larger than some of its competitors, slightly flimsy feeling
Summary: I was a bit surprised that CNET only gave this product 3.5 stars, so I wanted to provide another viewpoint. I have been shopping around for a portable Bluetooth speaker for vacations and the occasional small patio party for a while. I had auditioned (in store only) the usual suspects - the Jambone Jambox, Bose Soundlink, etc but hadn't quite found a great fit. After reading glowing reviews of the Jambox, I expected to (and wanted to) love it. It looked really cool, but the sound was so...flat. The Bose certainly sounded better, but it was $300, and I didn't think it sounded $300 good. Now, my expectations are probably too high for a small speaker, and it could have been the acoustics of the stores (both Best Buy and Target).
Enter the Soundfreaq. I had read a few reviews that were quite positive, so I decided to give it an audition. Problem was, I couldn't find it anywhere. Even the Soundfreaq was out of stock - it recommended looking in Target stores (although it is not listed on the Target website). After going to three Targets, I finally found one with a Soundfreaq and a functioning demo. I immediately found the sound to be clearer than both the Jambox (by a lot) and the Bose (by a little). If I were going in blind, I would have picked the Soundfreaq in a listening test. My wife agreed. I had to pinch myself that it was only $99 - half the price of the Jambox and a third the price of the Soundlink.
Now, I have no illusion that this could replace my main living room system of Mirage speakers and a higher end Yamaha receiver. It won't. Ever. However, it provides nice sound for our kitchen, and have officially assigned this to bedroom duty - it is significantly better than our existing clock radio/iPhone dock.
Ok, now for the review. As you can tell, I think the sound is best in class. However, it is larger than both the Jambox and Soundlink (I believe CNET said the Bose was larger, but it is not, although it is close). I will concede that the bass is deeper on the Bose - if you listen to a lot of hip hop, I would definitely audition the Bose (forget the Jambox). I don't listen to much any more, so this was not a huge deal for me. I would call the bass acceptable - on the positive it is not "rattle-y" if that makes sense. The mid and higher end of the sound spectrum is excellent, however. For my catalog of mostly acoustic and indie, this works great.
As mentioned, this is not quite as portable as the Jambox or Bose. Not a huge deal for me, but may be for some. I do like the built-in wrap around case on the Bose. This does not come with a case, although because it is all plastic, I think it would survive a backpack or carry-on just fine. What it does have is a bass module that pulls out and acts as a kickstand. It angles the sound very slightly up, and I believe this is part of the reason that the sound sounds bigger than its size would lead one to believe. The Soundfreaq is made of plastic, so it does not look as refined as the Bose, or as unique as the Jambox. If aesthetics are important to you, it's something to consider. That said, it still looks pretty slick, so I will not knock it too much.
The Bluetooth pairing was easy, and I have not had any dropped connections. It should be noted that my iPhone is generally in the same room, so I can't really comment on the range. As noted by CNET, the volume is capped when using battery power. In my opinion, it still gets loud enough to fill a smallish room with sound.
In summary, I am very happy with my purchase. I think I would have also been happy with the Bose (if I didn't stumble upon the Soundfreaq I would have likely ended up with it because I was so disillusioned with the others) but the price difference was so large I could not justify it.