James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

The Edifier MP211 Bluetooth speaker is the winner of our group test of portable speakers – but read our review to find out why it's a controversial verdict

Overview

The advent of multiple devices capable of playing music, means you can personalise your caravan more easily than ever while you're on holiday. Whether you're on-site, on a bicycle ride or heading for the beach, you shall have music wherever you go.

The idea of taking your music with you is not new, because after all the Sony Walkman was invented way back in 1979. Since then we've enjoyed using ever-smaller music storage devices, moving from audio cassettes, CDs and MP3 players to smartphones. The smaller they've got, the greater their capacity to store more tunes seems to have become. 

Unfortunately the sound quality has not always measured up to the storage capacity. Certainly if you want to play the music so that everyone can hear it, rather than through headphones, it's well worth investing in a portable speaker to enhance the sound. Then comes the question of connections. Where once plug-in speakers had to be connected via leads and power sockets, now they have wireless Bluetooth technology and long-lasting rechargable batteries.

The very best portable speakers offer multiple ways to connect to as many devices as possible. They'll also have controls and a card slot on the speakers, so that you can even use them as sound systems in their own right, without having to connect to your phone, laptop or tablet.

We've selected several Bluetooth speakers for our Practical Caravan group test, so you can compare our reviews here. For instance, we gave the Creative Sound Blaster Free, £59.99, the Pure Voca, £79.95, and the Speedlink XILU, £22.49, three-star ratings, for different reasons. We were less impressed with the Vibe Mushroom, £10, despite its friendly appearance.

In this review we'll focus on the Edifier MP211 portable Bluetooth speaker, which is the winner of our Practical Caravan group test. This is a slightly contentious winner, because several other models that we tested have better sound quality.

Still, if you’ve never heard a Bluetooth speaker before, you’ll be chuffed to bits with the big sounds that come from this compact device. Unless you’ve sampled better or you’re an uncompromising audiophile, you’ll almost certainly find the output more than adequate.

That’s why this really trumps the opposition: it is that winning combination of great price, a raft of features and plenty-good-enough sound.

Speaking of features, you get NFC compatibility, an internal micro SD card reader and player, a 3.5mm auxiliary lead so you can plug it into non-wireless devices and up to 10 hours of battery life between charges, on top of the usual Bluetooth and auxiliary cable input options.

The Edifier MP211 Bluetooth speaker weighs just over 2g, and measures 150mm × 62mm × 31mm. There is a built-in microphone so that you can interrupt the music to make hands-free phone calls. You should get around 10 hours of music between charges. 

It's attractive, too, coming in a choice of bright yellow, blue and pink or more standard white or black. If you have all the latest gadgets you'll appreciate the fact that it has NFC for maximum compatibility. There are clear rubberised control buttons on the top of the speaker, and you can use it as a stand-alone music system.

Technical specs

Weight0.215kg
Size150mm × 62mm × 31mm
Connect devices viaBluetooth, SD card or auxiliary input
Built-in microphoneFor hands-free phone calls
Card slotFor music saved on a microSD card
Battery life10 hours
3.5mm auxiliary leadPlugs in to any device
ColoursPink, yellow, white, blue, black
Has NFCCompatible with more devices
Frequency200Hz-20KHz
Input sensitivity600±50mV
Total power output2 x 2W
SNR≧85dBA
Control buttonsOn the device itself

Verdict

We love the Edifier MP211 portable Bluetooth speaker because it's such an all-rounder. It delivers good sound quality and is compatible with just about any device you want to use with it. You can even put your favourite music on a card reader, pop the card into the speaker and use it as a stand-alone sound system. That's one less device to charge up!

The Edifier MP211 portable Bluetooth speaker is the winner of this Practical Caravan group test of wireless Bluetooth speakers, and we've given it a five-star rating.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Good sound quality
  • Compatible with every music playing device
  • Good value for money
  • Attractive choice of colours
  • Good all-rounder
  • Works wirelessly and plugged in

Cons

  • Purists may prefer others for superior sound quality
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