Review: Outdoor Technology Big Turtle Shell Bluetooth Speaker
The portable Bluetooth speaker market has to be one of the most crowded and competitive in the entire tech industry at the moment. It seems that countless companies are bringing these devices to the market, making it nearly impossible for consumers to sort through all of their options to find the ones that are actually worth investing their time and money on. But with their Big Turtle Shell speaker, Outdoor Technology—a company that specializes in audio products for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts—has created a device that not only delivers excellent sound, but is rugged enough to take with you anywhere.
You’ll be hard pressed to find many competing products that are as rich in features as the Big Turtle Shell (BTS). Not only does it come with a large central speaker that is capable of cranking out tunes at an impressive 110 decibels, it also includes twin tweeters that help to add a bit of distinction and separation to the sound as well. The result is a richer, fuller quality to the audio that is produced, which is amongst the best I’ve heard out of any wireless speaker, even at higher volumes.
The BTS uses both Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC technologies to pair with your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other electronic devices. Both options make it quick and painless to connect your gadgets to the speaker, which will begin playing high-quality audio within a matter of seconds. Once paired, the Big Turtle Shell is capable of streaming music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other content from up to 32 feet (10 meters) away. That means you don’t have to be all that close to the speaker for it to continue to function, allowing you up to wander about freely.
Additional features include an integrated microphone that gives the BTS the ability to be used as a hands-free speaker phone that works surprisingly well for conference calls. The speaker’s absolutely massive 7800 mAh battery is impressive as well, allowing it to play music for up to 16 hours between recharges. Better yet, a built-in USB-out port allows the Big Turtle Shell to share some of that excess power with your mobile devices, keeping them well charged while on the go too. Integrated controls on the speaker itself give the listener the ability to pause, start, and skip tracks—as well as adjust volume—directly from the speaker itself, while 3.5mm speaker-in and speaker-out ports let you to connect non-Bluetooth enabled audio sources, and daisy-chain to Big Turtle Shell speakers for even more impressive sound.
In short, the BTS is an audio power-house that few other wireless speakers can match.
Design and Ascetic ★★★★
In terms of design, I feel the Big Turtle Shell is a bit of an acquired taste. Out of the box, it resembles something that is more likely to be found on the dash of a stealth fighter, as opposed to your desk or patio table. The device has a curious number of edges and corners, giving it a distinct look that is unlike anything else on the market, with the possible exception of its smaller sibling, the original Turtle Shell.
But it turns out there is a method to the madness of this design. The odd shape of the BTS helps to enhance the sound produced by the speaker, particularly when it is placed on its side. Yep, that’s right, the Big Turtle Shell can play music while sitting flat on its back, or when propped up on its side, adding a level of versatility to the speaker that isn’t all that apparent at first glance.
Outdoor Technology wisely incorporated two handles into the design of the product as well, making it easier to carry around with you. But if there is one drawback to the Big Turtle Shell, it just might be the size. This is a large speaker, and while it is still highly portable, it isn’t as easy as some of its competitors to carry with you on a long trip abroad or into the backcountry on a weekend camping trip.
If the Big Turtle Shell earns high marks in any category, it is definitely durability. Built to be incredibly tough, Outdoor Technology designed the BTS to withstand the punishment that comes along with being outside. As a result, the speaker has an IPX5 rating, which means it is completely dust and sand proof, and can survive a surprise rainstorm too, although I wouldn’t want to completely immerse it in water. It is also tough enough to withstand occasional drops onto hard surfaces as well, but since we’re still talking about an electronic device, I’m not sure I’d want to do that too much. Still, this is a rugged device that will continue to provide outstanding audio performance even when used in demanding environments.
I’m sure there are some consumers who will take one look at the price tag for the Big Turtle Shell speaker and come away with a bit of sticker shock. Yes, there are other Bluetooth speakers on the market that can be had for much less money, but few devices can match the BTS in terms of all around value. Not only is this speaker capable of putting out fantastic sound, even at high volumes, it is unmatched in terms of battery life too. Add in the ability to function as a speakerphone, as well as serve as a charging station for your mobile devices, and you can start to see how this product truly separates itself from the competition. The fact that it is also water resistant and dust-proof makes it he perfect choice for outdoors use too, only adding value to an already great product.
If you’re in the market for an great portable speaker for your use around the house, the backyard, or the local park, than it is tough to beat the Big Turtle Shell. This is a well-rounded product that delivers on multiple levels, and it just might be the best all-around wireless speaker available today.
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