Since the Jawbone Jambox was released, we’ve seen so many comparably small, portable Bluetooth speakers that they’ve begun to blur together. One of the latest to arrive at our offices is Kinivo’s BTX350 ($70), which is available at launch for the introductory price of $40. The size and shape are pretty much in line with what we’ve come to expect from this speaker sub-genre since the Jambox was introduced, and it has most of the features one would expect, including a rechargeable battery, aux input, and Micro-USB charging — both of the necessary cables are included, as well.
At 8” long, 3.75” tall, and 2.25” deep, BTX350 is relatively large compared to similar models on the market, but certainly not big; it’ll still easily fit in a bag. Its body is mostly hard plastic, with cloth covering the speakers and a brushed aluminum strip running beneath them. It doesn’t feel truly premium in any way, but it doesn’t feel altogether bad, either. The top edge of the unit includes more physical buttons than we usually see. Eight 5/8” buttons give you control over volume, bass, track changes, audio source selection, playing/pairing, and power. Another distinguishing feature is the battery: a door on the back opens to expose a removable 1000mAh cell. It’s supposed to last for five hours of audio playback—a relatively short time—but unusually lets you replace it as needed.
Audio performance is pretty much what we’d expect from an inexpensive speaker from a relatively unknown company. The sound is quite flat, with no real character. Pressing the bass button does boost the lows a bit, but doesn’t make the mix sound any better. BTX350 gets relatively loud for its size, but distorts before reaching any sort of room-filling level. While it’s not “bad,” it’s definitely not “good” by comparison with other $70 speakers we’ve tested; it’s just alright. Stereo separation doesn’t go much further than the edges of the speaker, either.
Thanks as much to its superior sound quality as its impressively ruggedized design, G-Project’s G-Grip is an example of a seriously great speaker at the $70 price point, and BTX350 just doesn’t live up to that. If you’re interested in snagging it for Kinivo’s introductory price of $40, it makes a lot more sense and could be worthy of your consideration if price is the main concern. Because we issue ratings based on the official retail cost, and put a premium on sound quality for the dollar, we can’t recommend Kinivo’s speaker as a $70 option. It’s OK, but certainly not worth that price point, especially compared to the current crop of alternatives on the market.
Company and Price
Compatible: All Bluetooth-Capable iPads, iPhones + iPods