- Super slick design
- High end build quality
- Top sound performance
- Limited feature set
The Bose SoundLink Mini is an amazing portable if you crave the best sound possible but don´t have the space in your bag for something bigger. It is expensive though, and its price is an issue because you can arguably buy better traditionally sized portables for less (the Beats Pill and Jawbone Jambox for example). Equally you can by a more affordable mini portable and trade off some sound quality for more features.
The mini portable speaker market is a very distinct niche in terms of audio products, simply because it is hard to eke out good sonic performance on a very small speaker. The truth is there is only so much sound you can get out of a very portable speaker, so we caution that any reviews of mini speakers are entirely in perspective and always keep in mind the size of these products.
We have previously reviewed the full sized Bose SoundLinK Bluetooth Speaker and found it to be a very good portable with fantastic sound, even if it does have a back to basics feature set. If the regular 10-inch SoundLink is a little too chunky for your needs then Bose also makes a Mini version of the speaker, so we thought it only right that we take it for a test drive.
What´s in the box?
Much like its bigger sibling, the Bose SoundLink Mini will hardly fall out of the box alongside a bunch of extras. Indeed, there are no cables or anything to speak of, with even cables at a bare minimum aside from the A/C charger. There´s no USB charger here (more on that a little later) while there are no other cables or cases bundled in. Like the bigger SoundLink, the Mini is expensive at $199 but does come with a charging cradle, which sits elegantly under the unit while it charges.
The Bose SoundLink is one of the slickest looking portable Bluetooth speakers on the market, but if anything, the Mini version is even easier on the eye. Bose really has done a good job of making its admittedly expensive product look suitably premium and while it is fairly conventional in terms of form, it is a good looking mini cabinet. The company made the wise choice of delivering a different look for the SoundLink Mini, with the smaller speaker featuring a branded front speaker cover and aluminum unibody rear. Yes, this is a metal portable and its class oozes through when it´s in the hand, making it hugely desirable. Neatly stationed at the top of the unit are the button controls, with each being clear and easily readable. Bose adds extra design kicks to the Mini with a number of extra purchasable covers. Available in a number of colors, these covers are expensive at $25, but they do further enhance the already slick looks of the SoundlInk Mini.
As the name suggests, the Bose SoundLink Mini is very small and truly is a portable Bluetooth speaker. So often, so called portable speakers are actually too big to fit into pockets and sometimes smaller bags. The SoundLink Mini will have no such worries and would fit into larger pockets and just about any bag thanks to its diminutive nature (Height 2 inches, Width 7.1 inches, and Depth 2.3 inches. The unit is also super light too, weighing a puny 1.5 pounds.
That´s to its ultra high end construction, the SoundLink Mini certainly feels like it can take a knock or two, although the aluminum body would obviously be susceptible to dents and scratches. Which is why Bose offers the rubberized covers that look amazing and will certainly make the speaker even more robust.
Like its bigger stable-mate, the SoundLink Mini is geared towards the quality of the audio (more on that shortly), so Bose has not felt the need to throw loads of features at the unit, even if it does cost just shy of 200 bucks. If you are in the market for NFC connectivity or speakerphone functionality then you will need to look elsewhere because they are absent on the Bose.
It is important to tackle the issue of smaller speakers not being able to deliver huge sound quality. It goes without saying that a tiny cabinet like the SoundLink Mini will not be troubling larger speakers in terms of quality or loudness. So while looking at this speaker it is best to consider what it can do in a relative sense, or how it performs against similarly small units, and it is actually good news.
The normal Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker is just about the best performer in its particular niche, and the SoundLink Mini offers equal quality in its own. You can expect just about the best sound available from a mini portable when you fire up the Mini, and to be honest that´s a good thing because Bose sells this as a back to basics sound quality first product. I was pleasantly surprised by how loud the SoundLink Mini was and bass resonance was strong and full, especially when the cab had a solid surface like a wall behind it. This is a tiny speaker with minimal watt output, so scratchy distortion at high volumes is almost a guarantee. However, Bose has done a good job in the engineering process at minimizing that problem so the distortion only kicks in at max volume, and even then it is less than rival portables.
Sound is punchy and smooth across the board and in terms of what is essentially a pocket speaker, this is about as good as it gets right now.
The speaker does have multiple Bluetooth syncing capabilities, so you can hook up via Bluetooth on up to six devices. Once paired a device will be remembered and stored in the system, meaning you only have to pair the unit one time. In case you don´t want to link up via Bluetooth, Bose has also included an AUX output slot for wired connections.
This is not the best performing speaker in this aspect, but nor is it the worst. You can expect to get around 7 hours out of the unit before needing to start the 3 hour recharging process.
The Bose SoundLink Mini is one of the best ultra-small speakers on the market, delivering great sound and amazing design. It is small, light, and delivers plenty of punch, making it a solid choice for those who are constantly on the move, although it does come at a high price.