Review: Divoom Timebox Mini Bluetooth Speaker
Divoom's new Timebox Mini ($50) is the company's successor to 2015's AuraBox Bluetooth speaker, offering several improvements over the earlier version while still maintaining the same general design and novelty factors that take it far beyond being merely a speaker. Improvements include an expansion of the display to 11x11 pixels with more colours as well as a new and redesigned app that allows for several new functions that take it beyond what the AuraBox could do, while coming in at $20 less than the prior model.
Timebox Mini also comes in slightly smaller than its predecessor, measuring about 3.5” square and about 1.5” deep, although the construction remains basically the same, with a front plastic wall for the display, matte rubber sides, and controls on the top and side. The speaker still fires to the rear, however there’s no distinctly visible speaker area like there was on the Aurabox — instead the rear of the Timebox Mini is just one big uniform speaker grille, with two auxiliary audio ports and a micro-USB charging port in the lower centre, making for a cleaner and more visually appealing design. It’s also available in six other colours beyond basic black.
Timebox Mini still uses a 5W driver like AuraBox, however it’s been reduced to a 2” driver, so the sound quality takes a bit of a hit as a result. On the other hand, the maximum volume levels that can be pumped out also seem to have been decreased, so it’s possible to crank it up without encountering any noticeable distortion. That said, Timebox Mini still gets reasonably loud considering its size. Timebox Mini produces surprisingly respectable sound for a $50 speaker of its size, but like AuraBox, we wouldn’t recommend Timebox Mini for serious long-term music listening. However, as with many of the lower-end Bluetooth speakers we’ve looked at, your milage will vary depending on the type of music you prefer to listen to. Timebox Mini can also double as a reasonably competent speakerphone. Divoom promises up to ten hours of play time on a full charge.
Like AuraBox before it, the most appealing features of Timebox Mini are found in its app-enabled LED pixel screen, and there are actually a surprising number of things packed into here. Using the companion app, you can get visual notifications for a wide variety of services including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, WeChat, Skype, Line, QQ, and more, along with incoming call, missed call, and text message notifications. Divoom has even created its own “Pixel Chat” network within the app, allowing you to send both predefined and custom pixel designs directly to other Timebox Mini users — a fun feature, especially for kids.
The app also includes a Daily Planner mode that can show unique pixel designs as reminder icons, and even be set up to repeat for things like workouts. A Sleep Aid mode provides appropriate bedtime light on the display with 24 built-in scenes and background ambient audio tracks, and a Smart Alarm mode provides 12 customizable wake up alarms with animations and energetic wake-up tracks. Sadly, Divoom still hasn’t included an AC power adapter in the box, so you’ll need to supply your own if you want to use Timebox Mini as a bedside alarm clock or sleep aid.
A pixel art gallery also provides over 400 pre-defined graphics that can be put on the screen or assigned to various activities, and of course you can compose your own, as well as building animations and even sharing them in an online gallery. Timebox Mini can also display the time or weather information, be configured to display special icons on special days such as birthdays or holidays, display a stopwatch or scoreboard, and there are even some pixel-art games you can use it for. The display can also be set to animate to the beat of whatever music you’re playing, using one of five different patterns, and a 3x3 synth pad is also provided so you can play your own little jam with corresponding animations. Lastly, a built-in voice memo feature also allows you recording of short voice notes that can be left for other family members — one a voice note has been recorded, the display will show a notification until another person listens to it by pressing the play button on top of the device.
Looked at purely as a speaker, we wouldn’t say that Timebox Mini is anything special, although it’s fair to say that it doesn’t do badly for its price range — sound quality is actually about on par with the JBL Clip 2, although it’s obviously not designed for rugged travel. However, with Timebox Mini you’re getting a lot more than a speaker, and while there’s room for debate as to the practicality-to-gimmick ratio of some of the features, there’s no doubt that a few of them like notifications and the daily planner can definitely be handy. If you’re looking primarily for a speaker you’ll be better served by other options, but Timebox Mini offers significantly more, and for the $50 asking price you’re getting a decent speaker and a lot of other fun features.