There are lots and lots of Bluetooth speakers on the market now; more than ever in fact. They were quite possibly the best selling product of all this past holiday season, but with so many out there how do you pick one over the other? Price is always a good place to start, deciding how much you actually want to spend and then choosing from there, and then of course there's always brand name and model as well. When new electronics come out, especially less expensive ones, new brands pop up seemingly all over the place and it's just downright hard to figure out who's who among the swath of devices. We're here today to alleviate some of that headache and bring you a review of the Photive Cyren PH-BT1000 Bluetooth speaker.
First up we'll talk aesthetics and design. Personally I love the bar design much better than the little bubble type ones, although as far as portability is concerned those will obviously fit in more pockets than one shaped like this though. The speaker comes with a pouch that it fits in though, as well as a charging cable and a headphone jack cable in case you're using something that doesn't have Bluetooth capabilities. The speaker comes in a variety of colors, and as you can see I've got the orange one, which features a silver colored grill that covers the actual speaker component. The orange part of the speaker if covered with a really nice soft-touch material that feels more rubber than anything else.
Looking at the top of the device we'll start with the LED color indicator, which lets you know the status of the connection and the battery. It will pulse blue with connected, blink blue quickly when waiting for pairing, and turn red when the battery is low. The buttons up top are incredibly convenient and are something I haven't had on previous portable speakers. The Photive Cyren even has a phone button so you can use it as an extra loud loudspeaker, which comes in real handy when driving. Other buttons include a play/pause button, next and previous tracks, and volume up and down. All of these have a satisfying click when pressed and are very responsive.
The speaker itself is pretty darned good, and puts out some incredible volume when blasted. If you turn it all the way up you'll start to get distortion, but one notch below max exhibits very little if any at all. Just don't turn it up to the absolute maximum volume and you'll be just fine. One little quirk that's been frustrating me since I started using it is that the speaker begins at maximum volume when turned on, so you have to turn it all the way down every single time you turn it off or on. This is frustrating and I wish I could change this behavior, but I'm not even sure it's possible to get firmware updates for this sort of device. At least though the speaker beeps at you when the volume is at its lowest, so even though there's no visual indicator of volume there's an audible one. Outside of that the sound quality is pretty fantastic, with clear highs and moderate lows. Although the bass sometimes leaves a bit to be desired it never eliminates it completely as some super cheap speakers can do. You won't be rattling the windows off your house anytime soon, but that's actually a positive for me since I use this at work and don't want lots of booming noises coming from my office.
Battery life has been nothing short of stellar. I've literally been using this consistently at work for the past 3 weeks and haven't recharged it a single time. The Photive Cyren is rated at 8 hours playback time and includes a rechargeable battery that works with any micro-USB plug (such as the one that likely charges your phone), but I feel like I've experienced far more than 8 hours of playback time on this charge. The Photive Cyren pairs using Bluetooth 3.0, so while it doesn't use the latest in low-energy Bluetooth tech it's going to be compatible with more models than if it were using Bluetooth 4.0. The speaker's MSRP if usually $119.99, but it's on sale on Amazon.com for $49.99 right now with free shipping of course. You can get it in 5 different colors as well: Black, Blue, Orange, Purple and Red.