Qustion: I want speakers to play music from my iPhone in my garage while I work at my workbench. I am looking for something under $100, preferably not much more than $50 that I can use without connecting a cable. Is there anything out there that is passable?
Answer: Earlier this year I mentioned Cambridge SoundWorks had some exceptional products in the pipeline. One of them is the OontZ, a $69.99 wonder that is a perfect match for the iPhone, iPad or any other Bluetooth device. The OontZ is a portable Bluetooth stereo speaker with a USB-rechargeable battery rated at 10 hours of life. Pairing it to your Bluetooth device is simple, and -- despite its small size -- it produces considerable volume and bass.
Many inexpensive portable and computer speakers have dramatic, unbalanced sound that initially impresses but soon grows tiring. The OontZ has smooth, even sound that never causes listener fatigue. I was told that audiophiles now own Cambridge SoundWorks. The sound of the OontZ is evidence of that. The speaker is not especially placement sensitive, but I did get better sound from different parts of my desk and kitchen counter, so if you get one, be sure to experiment with placement.
I found the OontZ and iPhone to be a perfectly matched pair for whole-home listening.
I carried it around the house and used it in the kitchen, the garage, the laundry room, on my hobby workbench and in the yard with my dogs. It sounds good and is fun to own and use. While music is the obvious application for the speaker, I found that iPhone games like RC Plane 2, Angry Birds Space, and Facebook Zynga Poker were even more enjoyable with the OontZ playing the soundtrack.
The sound quality, satisfying volume, long battery life, ease of use and price are enough on their own to recommend the OontZ, but the sweet icing on the cake is the speakerphone capability. When the phone rings, the OontZ functions as a high-quality speakerphone. As I was writing this column, it was paired to my iPhone and a call from my dad came in. I just pushed the answer button on the OontZ and took the call. If I was doing anything else but writing, I could have just kept on working without missing a beat.
No product is perfect, and the only fly in the OontZ ointment is so superficial and personal to me that I feel conspicuous mentioning it. I didn't care for the "OontZ" logo on top of the speaker, which is a large, cartoony font. I mentioned this to my contact at Cambridge SoundWorks, saying that the clean, modern industrial design and luxurious feel of the plastic reminded me of a Bang & Olufsen product and that the logo looked out of place. He said when someone sees the OontZ on a co-worker's desk, they want them to know exactly what it is, immediately. I can see this product having that "What is that, I want one" kind of a vibe to it, so their reasoning is understandable -- even if I don't care for the big logo.
With all it has going for it for only $69.99, perhaps the OontZ -- www.theoontz.com -- will be a household name soon enough that the big logo won't be needed.
Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com.