Altec Lansing’s Life Jacket Bluetooth Speaker ($150) is a rugged IPX67-rated speaker, meaning it’s waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. It also floats. Equipped with two 2″ drivers and a passive bass radiator, Life Jacket can get up to 16 hours of battery life on a single charge. Life Jacket has a speakerphone feature, and its built-in power bank and USB port allows the speaker to charge devices, as well. The speaker also comes with an AC adapter plug, a short audio cable, and micro-USB cable.
Life Jacket’s design bears a slight resemblance to Braven’s BRV-X, though this speaker is smaller at 7.5” x 2.2825” x 3.125”. An on/off button and volume controls are found on top of the speaker, while on the back next to the bass radiator is a sealed port, covering a micro-USB port for charging the speaker, a 3.5mm auxiliary audio port, and a USB port for charging other devices. At two pounds, the rubberized Life Jacket feels substantial.
Life Jacket pairs as quickly using Bluetooth as just about any speaker we’ve seen — it’s almost instantaneous. Altec Lansing claims the speaker takes four hours to charge fully, and from there, the speaker is said to last up to 16 hours. Considering its decent feature set and ruggedness, you’d have no qualms with tossing a charged Life Jacket into a backpack and taking it out for an entire day, no matter where you might be going.
Of course, that assumes you’ll want to bring Life Jacket anywhere, considering its unfortunately flawed sound. At best, we found the speaker’s performance to be inconsistent from song to song. While vocals came through with no problems, it often sounded like songs were “holding back” on Life Jacket, with other sounds getting a bit lost in a somewhat muddy mix. Compared to other similarly priced speakers, Life Jacket’s issues were evident — an undefined midrange and substandard bass kept the speaker from hitting its mark. Songs just don’t sound as full or urgent on Life Jacket as they do on other comparable speakers.
As for volume, Life Jacket will get loud enough for many situations, but again, it falls a bit behind similar speakers in that regard. Speakerphone performance was also mediocre in our testing. In the end, Life Jacket showed a lot of promise, due to its tough feel and promises of 16-hour battery life, among other features. But the sound just isn’t as good as it should be for the price, which makes it tough to recommend.
Company and Price
Company: Altec Lansing
Compatible: Bluetooth-compatible iOS devices