There are a lot of Bluetooth powered audio speakers, and some of them are portable. Some can even handle being outside or getting scuffed up. But if you are looking for an outdoor BT speaker that is large enough to be heard over your heartbeat or a dog’s barking, and tough enough to handle falling on the ground or being pushed against the wall by that dog, then the LifeJacket 2 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker is what you’ll be listening to.
It was taken to my friend Steve’s BBQ and if it was the cook making the food, then it would have gotten even more applause than it did. It hooks up via Bluetooth to a smartphone (be it iPhone or Android) and transmission of audio is simple and clear.
The Jacket isn’t huge but it is significantly larger than most portables and a lot heavier — but that’s OK since besides the electronic “guts” the speakers inside are hefty enough to do their job well. What’s taking the audio signal and turning into tunes are a pair of 2″ Neodymium drivers paired with a passive bass radiator; just enough space for this “boom-box” like enclosure to do a bit of stereo separation. The sound, by and large is strong, especially the bass which doesn’t wimp out. The sound gets an enhanced sound-field as a result of having a digital sound processor working in this fashion and that causes the perception of “loudness” more so than if this tech wasn’t embedded. The controls are pretty easy to operate once the pairing has been done: being top mounted touch buttons for power on/off and volume up/down.
Now since it wasn’t being coddled, the Jacket spent a lot of time on the floor or being toted from one place to the other, depending on where the sound was being asked to come from. That it floats in water means it has to be a totally waterproof IP67— no pool to test that — but certainly the meat juices flying about when the Jacket got lugged onto the preparation table next to the grill didn’t seem to cause any grief (i.e., the Jacket didn’t start smoking or anything). Add to that the smoke from the grill didn’t bother it either. Ans to being rugged, it didn’t look any worse for wear when wiped off at the end of the evening. If you need to go extreme, check out Altec Lansing’s online video demo where they do things to the LifeJacket 2 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker that you definitely wouldn’t even consider. Spoiler alert: the Jacket holds up really well.
The Jacket is also mountable (includes a mount to use) and this is something that I could have used to my advantage, but the fact that it can work via an AC charger is good only if you’re going to keep it inside next to a wall outlet. That’s not what this BT speaker is all about — it’s all about providing a good quality sound for a good amount of time while you DO stuff outdoors. So that means not worrying about keeping it safe and out of the line of sight of any trouble. Altec Lansing includes a pouch along with the accessories noted above and a few more, btw.
And as should be expected, the mid-range is clear enough that when used as a speakerphone (in consjucnction with the phone, obviously), you don’t have to scream to be heard at the other end or they to do the same so you can hear them. Other extras include caller ID and voice commands — these take a bit to get used to and are okay, ignore them if you want since it doesn’t hurt having the Jacket one way or the other.
Of course the Jacket wasn’t playing constantly, but the pledge of 16 hours of play time per full charge seems reasonably accurate as it lasted with ease from being left on about an hour prior to the party (where I started a sort of “get ready to party” playlist) until about a half hour after everyone had cleared out and I helped clean up some 6+ hours later. I also like the fact that it has a “power bank” use in that there’s a USB output for charging up other devices. This will take a drain on the battery, but frankly it’s a help since carrying a charger these days is about as important as having soap in a gas station bathroom (i.e., odds are it isn’t around when needed, and it WILL be needed at some point).
There’s a couple of color options — these consist of color highlights working with the basic black (the one I used had blue highlights). Considering both the size and features, the retail price of $149.99 is spot-on in balancing the scales between what you pay and what you get.