Save Money / Consumer News

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth wireless speakers for your computer, tablet, phone

Friday, January 18, 2013

Consumer Reports tested wireless speakers that make it easy to stream music from your smartphone, tablet or computer without a bunch of wires or other complicated connections.

Consumer Reports tested eight wireless speaker systems that cost anywhere from $200 all the way up to $650. They use either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology.

"Bluetooth speakers work with lots of portable devices, and generally they're pretty easy to set up," said Consumer Reports Senior Electronics Editor Jim Willcox. "But they're really designed to work in the same room as the device that's playing your music."

But if you want to play your music in different rooms, you'll want speakers that work with a Wi-Fi network. You can listen in the kitchen while someone else listens on a second speaker in another room.

"But nearly all Wi-Fi speakers require that you already have an existing home wireless network, and you have to make sure that the speakers are compatible with the devices that you plan to use them with," said Willcox.

But how's the audio quality? Testers evaluated the speakers in the Consumer Reports audio lab.

The Monster ClarityHD Micro Bluetooth speaker sounded only fair.

But the top speakers have very good audio. For Bluetooth, Consumer Reports recommends the stylish Edifier Spinnaker speaker system for $350.

The top-rated Wi-Fi choice also goes for $350. It's the Sonos Play:3 system that includes a speaker and wireless adapter. And you can get even better audio quality if you pair two of the speakers, which would bring the cost to $650.

Consumer Reports says another plus with the Sonos Play:3 Wi-Fi speakers is that you can stream music from dozens of online music services like Pandora and Spotify.

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