Comparison of Three Superb Bluetooth Speakers: iHome iBT16, Lenco BTSW and LifeNSoul’s BM208

March 16, 2014 - Written By Samantha P. Hawthorne

The year 1877 marked a turning point for the music industry with the invention of the phonograph – a large record player capable of producing and recording sound. Prior to the invention, if someone wanted to listen to music they had to get off their butts to attend a live performance. The end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century saw many improvements to the device. For instance, in 1980 Louis Glass and William S. Arnold designed the first pay to play phonograph, and by 1918 Hobart C. Niblack patented a device that coule automatically change records. Both of these upgrades ultimately paved the way for the invention of the jukebox in 1927. From there, media devices got smaller, more affordable and more convenient. In 1957 the record player was invented; in 1963 the cassette player entered the market; and in 1976 came the boom box. Truly portable music players weren’t introduced until 1979 however, starting with the portable cassette player, CD player and finally, by 1998 the MP3 player. Shortly after, in 2000, Steve Jobs revolutionized the music industry with his introduction of the first iPod. Now, more than a decade later people rely mostly on their smart phones to listen to music. There is one flaw however – the sound quality is less than adequate unless you are wearing headphones.

So what if you are in the company of multiple music fans? While there are many accessories in the market today designed to amplify your listening experience, Bluetooth speakers seem to be at the top of the list this year. But with so many on the market, how do you choose the one that best fits your needs? Designs ranging from top of the line equipment resembling the 1870’s phonograph to simple, inexpensive speakers that looks like a speaker. You have speakers that are built with microphones and those that only serve media-playing purposes. Today we are going to look at three different Bluetooth speakers that each have their own unique qualities: iHome’s iBT16, Lenco’s BTSW and LifeNSoul’s BM208.


iHome iBT16

The iHome is perfect for those who are looking for a great music experience without the frills of call support. Sound quality is crisp with little to no static interference. With its focus on audio playback, the iBT16 allows you to connect multiple devices via a line-out jack; line-in support allows you to connect directly to non-Bluetooth devices or headphones. Your smart phone or other Bluetooth-capable device controls the speaker, making it ideal for party hosts – especially when utilizing the multi-device setup.  The rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts for eight hours of continuous use. Like most Bluetooth devices, the iHome streams music and movies from up to 30 feet/10 meters away from the connected device. The Bluetooth speaker comes in a variety of vibrant colors including green, purple, pink and blue for only $49.99 each. Its rubberized finish is soft to the touch, but lacks that delicate feel that makes you afraid to drop it. It weighs less than half a pound and is less than three inches around, making it ideal for travel.


Lenco BTSW

Before even turning the Lenco on I fell in love with it. It is by far the most unique Bluetooth speaker I saw at this year’s International CES. It comes in two colors, white and black, and is bedazzled with SWAROVSKI ZIRCONIA stones in two different patterns. The blinged out device seems more suited for the typical housewife than the party girl. Its battery only lasts three hours and the base is not nearly as robust. Nonetheless, the sound quality is brilliant and like the iHome, it allows you to connect multiple speakers for around the house sound. Also unlike the iHome, it has a built in microphone allowing you to take and make phone calls in between songs. Call quality is decent, definitely better than built in handset speakers, and allows you to enjoy hands-free calling from several feet away. The built in control buttons allow you to answer a call, pause music, control volume and switch songs. At 8-ounces/235 grams it is a little heavy, however light enough to carry wherever you go. The speaker is a little on the pricy side at about $165/ ₤99,95, but for those who are willing to spend the extra bucks on the stylish Bluetooth device, it is definitely worth it.

The LifeNSoul BM208’s sound quality is comparative to the other two Bluetooth speakers, with the exception of volume and static. At lower volumes there seems to be more static than when at its max. However compared to the other two devices, the BM208 is the loudest. Unlike the other two however, it does not support line-out so having increased sound without having to spend extra money for multiple devices is definitely a plus. The hands-free calling function is once again, much better than smart phone speakers however its no comparison to the handset itself. The rechargeable battery can last up to three hours in-call, and four to five hours when listening to media. The speaker can be controlled via the device, however the volume control and track-selection button is one in the same, making it difficult to use one or the other function.  The design is a bit juvenile for my taste, but if you are looking for functionality over sophistication the BM208 is definitely worth a try. It comes in four different colors – purple, orange, green and white – and is only $79.99.