Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini review

A compact, powerful and chic Bluetooth speaker

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Our Verdict

The premium Esquire Mini comes fully recommended for those looking for a feature-packed Bluetooth speaker that's as chic as it is capable.

For

  • Full sound
  • Charges devices
  • Multi-directional mic
  • Amazing battery life

Against

  • Kickstand isn't adjustable
  • No battery button
  • Grille is lint-prone

Despite its size, the $149 (£129.99) Harmon/Kardon Esquire Mini stands with a tall message. While design and performance are elements that are often forced together in the polluted Bluetooth speaker market, the Esquire Mini represents harmony in the category, with a stunning voice that only adds to its undeniably dashing looks.

Either bound by Bluetooth or by 3.5mm cable, however, the device has few shortcomings. The Esquire Mini, simply delivers superb sound out of a compact and attractive build. Whether you pick up an Esquire Mini for leisure or as an office audio companion, it likely won’t leave your tech repertoire once you let it in.

Design

The Harmon/Kardon Esquire Mini sure is small. It measures in just shy of 6 inches long and is 3 inches tall. To give you a clear idea of its size, it closely mirrors the HTC One M8 in its length and width. It eclipses the iPhone 5S though, leaving a quarter of an inch on each side. Weighing in at about a half a pound, its thickness is about the same as any two smartphones sandwiched together.

Harmon Kardon Esquire Mini review

The dual 4 watt speakers are hidden behind a breathable silver mesh and a smooth, matte-textured plastic grill. These design features protect the speakers and also look dashing.

The backside continues the stylish tour. Wrapped with a sheet of durable, scratch-resistant black leather, the back also sports a bold chrome kickstand – like the forward slash in the company’s name – securing the speaker at a 115 degree angle. It’s a good look and it aims up to your ears, not at your chest.

Features

The front and back panels come together with a brushed aluminum trim, the site of the Esquire Mini’s numerous features. Going around the unit, there are a few input/output ports: a full-sized USB, a microUSB port, and a 3.5mm auxiliary port. Harman/Kardon even tossed in a leather strap for an added measure of fashionable portability.

Harmon Kardon Esquire Mini review

Aluminum power, Bluetooth and volume adjustment buttons are swell, but what’s most impressive here is their dual functionality. The phone button answers calls when paired via Bluetooth, but it also acts as a Play/Pause button. The volume adjustment dial mutes by pushing both directions simultaneously. These features are portrayed with finesse.

Performance

Choosing a Bluetooth speaker is daunting, but you’re halfway there once you discover a style that speaks to you. Next, you’ll want to find whether the speaker delivers the sound profile that aligns with your musical taste.

Bigger speakers can provide sharp lows, mids and highs thanks to more room in the trunk. But the Esquire Mini’s tiny form-factor tries its hardest to combines those clearly-defined levels and equalized for a variety of music types. It does quite a good job of that.

With 8 hours of advertised battery life, I was able to push it to an impressive 14 continuous hours at a low volume. After it recharged, I plugged in an HTC One that had a 15% charge to sip away at its battery juice. It lasted just over three hours, but the phone was well-alive with a 74% charge.

Thanks to its compact size, I was able to bring it with me virtually everywhere. I took calls with the handy conference call functionality, and where I couldn’t kick out its stand, I was able to hang it from with its handy leather strap.

In every scenario, the Esquire Mini avoids tinny delivery, pushing out a clear, far-reaching sound that scales well. Whether it’s set to a whisper-quiet volume at a workstation, or your blasting it in a large room, the Esquire Mini delivers sound that I’d consider to be good from speakers twice its size.

We liked

The Harmon/Kardon Esquire Mini easily fulfills its duties as a long-lasting and capable on-the-go speaker. Its compact size makes it easy to slip into a pocket or a bag to accompany your travels. I also liked that this speaker oozes coolness, matching the premium aesthetics of some of my most favored tech. It’s competitively priced at $150, meeting (if not ousting) several Bluetooth speakers feature-by-feature.

We disliked

Only a few minor gripes keep me from gushing non-stop about this cool device. On the unit, there’s no dedicated solution for checking the battery levels. I had to click the Pause button, pausing my music, to make the battery indicator light up.

For a device that is so focused on both form and function, it’s annoying being forced to resort to a workaround. Another very minor gripe is that the system noises for powering on and connecting via Bluetooth are too loud.

Final verdict

Though its name and style indicate that its strictly for the on-the-go professional, I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone looking for a portable, reliable and stylish Bluetooth speaker solution. With long-lasting battery life, great features and surprising sound all packed into a small package, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking option for the price.