These days, when we think of Bluetooth speakers, we often thing of garish, outlandish designs that shout louder with their design more than they do their ability to reproduce sound. That’s not true of all Bluetooth speakers, but it seems that a good portion of the market has forgotten that sound needs to come first. Inateck is not a name that you immediately associate with Bluetooth speakers, or speakers of any kind, really. However, we’ve reviewed speakers of theirs in the past and found them to be pretty great value, without going after looks more than sound reproduction. With this, the Inateck MercuryBox, the company is trying their hand at delivery a good-looking, well-made and very portable Bluetooth speaker that also offers great sound quality. Have they done it?
The images online of this little speaker do not do it justice. When Inateck agreed to send this to me, I was expecting something of a medium-sized little steel box. What I got was a tiny package that felt hefty and sturdy in the hand, cold to the touch and reassuringly put together. The aluminum build looks good, and the speaker grilles on the front and back give the otherwise industrial design a little friendliness. In the box, Inateck provide you with a nice, faux-leather carrying case as well as wrist strap (which serves more of a purpose as a hanger, than it does a wrist strap) and a microUSB cable and 3.5mm audio cable. It’s enough to get in the box, especially for its price of about $54/£53 and mercifully, the quick start guide is simple and easy to deal with.
There are rubber feet on the speaker that keep it upright, and it feels solid on a table, or flat surface. I’m confident that it’ll survive a drop or two, but it wouldn’t be nice to ruin that sleek metal finish. It’s also IPX5 water-resistant, so if you or the kids manage to spill liquid on it, it’ll be fine. The ports are in one neat place and covered up by a rubber gasket of sorts. I wouldn’t give this a soaking, but it’ll survive a few spills and live to tell the tale.
This is a good-looking, minimalist Bluetooth speaker that’s nice and compact, yet also substantial. Great for those that like minimal, no fuss designs without any serious branding. It looks the part and I’m sure it’ll look good paired with a Galaxy S6 or anything else with a metal frame.
From such a small package, you’re never going to expect all that much out of it, let’s be honest. With Inateck’s compact powerhouse though, you’d be wrong. I was blown away by the sound quality that this little package delivered. It’s crisp and clear, without sounding at all tinny. There’s definitely some depth here, and the bass does come through, albeit with more tubbiness than thump. I tested this using TIDAL’s lossless streaming, and I really enjoyed the results overall. Listening to Interpol’s excellent ‘My Desire’, the opening riff is crisp with that warm distortion coming through. Elsewhere, the beats from Rihanna’s latest hit hard, for something of this size of course, but it’s far from offensive and in fact I would rather take this than some larger speakers that I’ve tested.
Another thing here is the sheer volume of the thing, it cranks out some serious volume, and it’s genuinely surprising how much of a room filler this little guy can be. Of course, you’ll need to set it quite a way away as putting this much volume close to someone is obnoxious and far from pleasant. At the every top end of its volume capabilities, things do start to get a little muddy and unclear, but it doesn’t degrade into a horrible mess of distorted crackling at all, and admirably holds its own. A surprising all-rounder, this is an excellent package in such a small size and one that many will be hard pushed to find fault with.
It’s no good having a Bluetooth speaker if it never works. Inateck have packed this with an 1,800 mAh battery which gets the speaker an admirable all-day battery life. Inateck says that this will go all day at a moderate volume with a 15-hour battery life. I’m not quite sure of that, but it’ll get you a good 12 hours, which is more than enough considering the small 1,800 mAh battery doesn’t take too much to get charged up again.
Bluetooth speakers are two-a-penny these days, and there’s so much choice out there you might think that coughing up the extra for a Beats, Jawbone, Logitech or some other well-known brand is the way to go. While that’s a good path to take, it’s not the only one if you want a great all-round experience. The Inateck BP2101 only costs $50 or so, and for that sort of price, it’s staggering the sort of sound quality and feature set you get. There are no corners cut here either, the whole unit seems sturdy, the faux-leather carrying pouch is nice and the included cables are of high quality, as well. It sounds great, it’s great value and it’ll fit in a jacket pocket or not take up much room in a bag or something similar. For $50 or so, you’d struggle to find as good an all-round package like this elsewhere, and Inateck should be proud of themselves.