Can this thin and light speaker deliver?
You can’t step more than a few feet into the nearest Best Buy without running into a Bluetooth speaker. The once luxury item is now available in a huge number of sizes and shapes and in pretty much every price range. But every once in a while, an interesting new choice comes across my virtual desk that’s out of the ordinary and a new take on the time-honored classic.
Onanoff’s new SoundCover for the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 hit the market earlier this month. The company, founded in 2010, mostly focuses on audio accessories.
The SoundCover is thin and light.
As suggested by the name, the speaker basically mimics the size of an older iPad and features a built-in kickstand. It’s 14mm thick and weighs a little more than 1.2 pounds. After first pairing it with your iOS device, flipping out the kickstand automatically turns it on and pairs it. Placing the kickstand back into its original position turns the speaker off.
I can’t argue with Onanoff’s claim that the device can be up to 400 percent louder than the iPad’s built-in speaker. But overall, I was somewhat disappointed with the sound quality. Because it’s so slim, it just can’t provide the room-filling sound of other similarly priced speakers. In my time with the SoundCover, I found pretty much everything imaginable to play through it like Spotify music, Netflix movies, games, and even Apple’s WWDC keynote last week. While everything was louder, I never felt like the sound was truly enhanced compared to the iPad’s own speaker.
Battery life is rated at up to 15 hours of music playback on a single charge, and I got very close to that mark during testing.
Unfortunately, the SoundCover can’t be used as a full-time case.
Unlike previous versions of the accessory from Onanoff, there’s another substantial downside. While the SoundCover can protect the iPad’s screen when traveling, it doesn’t actually protect the tablet when in use since you’ll need to remove it from the speaker. That’s definitely a disappointment. Even though it can be used with any Bluetooth-capable device, it could really be a great companion for the iPad Air line if it could act as a full-time case.
While I think the general idea of the SoundCover is great, it’s extremely difficult to recommend at its current $199.99 price point. Anywhere from $50 to $100 less, and it would make a great, viable travel-only option for when you’re hitting the road. But in that price range, take a look at two of my favorite speaker options instead – the Sonos:1 for music listening around the house or the UE Boom for great sound that is portable and Bluetooth-capable.
- Looks great and is offered in a number of iPad-matching colors.
- Works as a speaker for any iOS device or even a Mac.
- Slim and easy to transport since it weighs just a little more than a pound.
- The built-in kickstand automatically wakes the speaker.
- Battery life of almost 15 hours.
- Can be used for phone calls with a built-in microphone.
- You still need to provide your own case/stand for the iPad.
- Really isn’t worth the steep price.
- Too thin to really offer a huge improvement in sound like a larger Bluetooth speaker.