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Braven 570 Bluetooth speaker / speakerphone / charger: Affordable style

Braven manufactures a line of portable Bluetooth speakers that also serve triple duty as speakerphones and iPhone chargers. Now the company is shipping the Braven 570 (US$119.99), a new and more affordable model of their stylish and durable speakers.

Design

Many of the Braven line of products share a common design meme. The Six Series speakers are made out of beautifully machined aluminum anodized in a variety of colors. With the Braven 570, the company has really outdone itself with the colors by bringing a total of six to the party. The review device came in bright green, and there are also black and white models in addition to vibrant blue, purple, or red.

The casing of the 570 doesn't appear to be aluminum; instead, it feels like a high-strength polycarbonate of some sort. This reduces the weight of the speaker, but doesn't detract from the looks of the 570 one bit.

Like the other speakers in the line, the Braven 570 contains a set of speakers, a noise-canceling microphone and a battery that can either pump out tunes for a long period of time or charge up your smartphone. What's different between the different models? It appears that battery capacity is the main difference. The 570 comes with a 1200 mAh battery, the 600 has 1400 mAh of capacity, and the top-of-the-line 650 includes a whopping 2000 mAh battery. The price is also a differentiating factor. While the 570 is available for $120, the 650 has a price tag of $190, which is quite high for portable Bluetooth speakers.

All of the Braven units use two custom HD audio drivers amplified by a pair of passive sub woofers. Output is at 6 Watts across the line. Like the speakers in the Braven Six Series, the 570 can be daisy-chained to other speakers to pump up the volume. A full charge is good for about ten hours of sound from the speaker, and it will take 2 to 3 hours to recharge the unit.

The controls for the speaker are conveniently located on the ends, along with ports for charging the device or using it as a charger for your iPhone. Braven includes a USB to micro-USB charging cable and an audio daisy-chaining cable.

Functionality

I reviewed the Braven 600 last year and was quite impressed with the build quality and sound of the unit. The Braven 570 is a worthy addition to the product line, and one that is priced low enough to be accessible to most people in the market.

The device emits a synthesized tone when powered up via a slide switch on one end. That's usually also your first experience with the sound quality and volume of the speaker. Pairing is simple and fast; you just hold down the speakerphone button until the speaker emits a "sonar" sound, at which time the Braven 570 appears in the list of Bluetooth devices on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

To check available battery capacity, there's a button on the opposite end of the 570 with a battery symbol on it. Pressing that button shows a white light if the current charge is between 50 and 100 percent of full, a blue light if it's between 10 and 50 percent, and a red light for less than 10 percent charge remaining.

I like that the Braven speakers always give you audio and visual feedback that they're turned on or off. Not only is there a startup tone when the 570 is powered up, but there's also a power down tone to let you know that you've properly switched it off. While the device is powered up, a small white LED pulses about once every five seconds to let you know it's turned on.

When playing music or watching movies on an iOS device and using the Braven 570 as your speaker, you'll be pleased. The sound is bright, clear and full -- it's hard to believe this is a small, pocketable Bluetooth speaker and not a much larger or more powerful speaker.

Like the Braven 600 tested last year, the 570 is a little less impressive as a speakerphone. Then again, I haven't been too overwhelmed with any Bluetooth speakerphone so it seems to just come with the technology. The Braven 570 is certainly usable as a speakerphone, it's just not going to impress you as much as it does as a regular speaker.

Conclusion

Once again, Braven has released a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that is also usable as a speakerphone and device charger. With the lower price point of the Braven 570, the company should attract even more Apple fans into the ranks of happy Braven owners.

Pros

  • More affordable than the other Braven speakers
  • Case colors are vivid and attractive
  • Excellent build quality and design
  • Music / movie sound quality is impressive
  • Built-in battery pack can charge mobile devices
  • Speakers can be daisy-chained for even more volume
  • Easy Bluetooth pairing process; no pairing code required

Cons

  • Less battery capacity than the higher-end Braven speakers
  • Speakerphone sound is rather muffled

Who is it for?

  • Anyone who wants the convenience of a battery pack and Bluetooth speaker in one well-designed package

Giveaway

We have a beautiful "Fiji Green" Braven 570 to give away to one fortunate TUAW reader. Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before February 27, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive a Braven 570 speaker system valued at $119.99
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

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