Although we’ve traditionally seen more extensive speaker systems by Edifier, the company’s new MP200 takes it in a different direction with a colourful and fun sub-$50 speaker that’s ultra-portable, splash proof, and provides not only Bluetooth capabilities but also micro SD card and USB playback, all packed into a two-inch cube that’s surprisingly comfortable to hold in your hand.
The MP200 is available in seven colors, including black and white and somewhat muted light green and light blue, in addition to more colorful blue, orange, and green options. The package includes a USB to micro USB cable and a pre-attached lanyard that appears designed to be left attached — although it is possible to remove it if you really want to. The front of the MP200 features a two-inch 5.5-watt driver that puts out surprisingly loud sound for a speaker of its size. The outer casing is also remarkably smooth and feels great in the hand. The MP200 is IP54 rated, meaning it’s dust-proof and splash-proof, but not waterproof.
Concealed under a flap on the right side is a micro SD card slot and a micro USB port. A status LED above the flap shows power and mode, illuminating blue for Bluetooth, red for micro SD card playback, and green for USB audio playback. The micro USB port is used for charging the MP200, however no power adapter is included so you’ll need to supply your own USB power source, although to be fair it’s not an unreasonable omission for a $35 speaker. A small LED beside the micro USB port acts as a charging status indicator. Call control, power/mode selection, and play/pause buttons are found on the top of the MP200, while the left side includes volume and track navigation controls. Edifier promises up to 12 hours of playback time over Bluetooth on a single charge.
The MP200 switches on in Bluetooth mode by default, and it starts up ready to pair out of the box without the need for any finger gymnastics with the buttons. Once paired, Bluetooth playback works mostly as we’d expect, and the MP200 reports battery status to the connected iPhone so you can check it from the status bar, which is useful as there’s no battery level indicator on the speaker itself other than an audible tone when the battery is getting low. Track controls work as expected, however volume controls are not mirrored via Bluetooth and therefore work independently of the paired iPhone or other device. The speakerphone capabilities were also a nice bonus, and worked decently well — callers could still tell we were on a speakerphone, of course, but our voice came through clearly at a distance of several feet.
In addition to Bluetooth playback, the MP200 can also play standard-format unprotected audio files (MP3/WMA/WAV/M4A) from a micro SD card or play audio over a USB connection; when connected to our MacBook Pro, for instance, the MP200 simply appeared as an audio device that was selectable from sound preferences. For those who may be curious, as a lark we tried connecting the MP200 to our iPhone using the Lightning to USB camera connector, however iOS reported that “The attached accessory uses too much power” so you won’t be able to play audio through the MP200 that way, but to be fair we can’t see too many reasons why anybody would want to. Mind you, we’re not even sure how much value there is in USB audio streaming on a speaker like this — the quality of the speaker isn’t high enough to take advantage of the benefits of a built-in DAC, so arguably a 3.5mm jack might have made more sense here. Still, we have to give Edifier points for doing something different.
There’s no point in getting into any real analysis on audio quality in a $35 speaker, but we’ll say that the MP200 sounded considerably better than we expected for a speaker of its size and price, both in maximum volume and audio fidelity. That said, saying that sound quality is “good for a $35” speaker isn’t saying much — there’s only so much you can get out of a single two-inch driver, and Edifier isn’t bending the laws of physics here — there’s still noticeable distortion at high volumes, the sound is unrefined, and of course there’s nothing here that even vaguely resembles stereo separation. On the other hand, anybody who is expecting these kind of things from a $35 speaker is dreaming in technicolor, so we’d say that for its price the MP200 does a remarkable job of not only providing good sound but also versatile playback options in a very nicely designed package. If you’re looking for an ultra-small speaker that you can take just about anywhere, it’s hard to go wrong with the MP200 at this price.
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