Portable wireless speakers are understandably popular. They're convenient as they can be used anywhere and, since they're wireless, you can keep hold of your smartphone or tablet and control the playlist using its screen.
Enter the Bose SoundLink II. At 1.4kg, it isn't the lightest or smallest but what it lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in audio finesse. Plus, thanks to its built-in cover which doubles as a stand, it's quite practical, too. (You can buy additional covers, nylon or leather as accessories).
Bose SoundLink II review: features and design
It's a relatively minor update to the original SoundLink: new drivers and an updated signal processor for a cleaner sound. The cover has an updated design, too and folds in half to form a stand. Magnets both hold it closed and serve to turn the SoundLink II on and off - a handy feature.
The top edge is full of big buttons, and lights on the front show whether you're using Bluetooth or the aux input (there's a minijack on the back). It's very easy to pair a Bluetooth device, and another new feature is a memory that can store up to six paired devices.
What you don't get is a remote control or microphone. Only the latter is a bit of an issue as plenty of other Bluetooth speakers act as a speakerphone - the SoundLink II doesn't. Plus, despite the price, there's no apt-X support, but even standard Bluetooth sounds very good. See also: i-box Twist review.
Bose doesn't give too many facts or figures about the amps and drivers, but there are four neodymium tweeters, and two opposing passive bass radiators. Bose says the fact that the two radiators face each other, they cancel out unwanted vibrations and keep your music distortion-free.
Bose SoundLink II review: sound quality
Regardless of the marketing hype, the SoundLink II impressed us with its big sound. Vocals had excellent clarity and, although there wasn't much stereo separation, music of all types remained distortion-free up to maximum volume, which was surprisingly loud.
Those bass radiators do a great job, delivering low frequencies you wouldn't expect to hear from a speaker this small. As they emit sound forwards and backwards, you get the best sound if the SoundLink II is placed on a shelf, or simply near a wall.
Battery life varies between three and eight hours depending on volume: hardly surprising given the power on offer.
The SoundLink II is available in a variety of colours, with the leather version commanding a £50 premium over the nylon version.