Consider the best wireless speaker you've ever owned. What did you like about it? If I worked on a betting website, I'd say it'd be features like superb audio quality, a low-latency connection, and the ability to charge your mobile device.
How does Creative's latest Sound Blaster portable speaker stand up to that list? Well, it might not set the new standard in portable audio, but at $199 (about £119, AU$213), the price is right for this bass-heavy Bluetooth speaker.
We legitimately liked last year's JBL Pulse Wireless Bluetooth speaker. The device's multi-colored LED light show dazzled us and its sound quality, though limited to highs and mids, was above par. In many ways, the SR20 takes the biggest flaws in that cylindrical spectacle and fixes them, full stop.
Where the Pulse seemed to pander to a younger crowd with its lava lamp-style lights, the SR20 looks more like a hefty novel with chrome accents and a jet-black trim. It may not make for a great conversation piece like JBL's Pulse, but the SR20 is refined, elegant, and would look sharp almost anywhere in the home.
This Sound Blaster is compact, too. Measuring 2.24 x7.95 x 4.52 inches (W x D x H), the device should be easy to bring around town or, thanks to included international adapters, on a trip overseas. It's a bit hefty, though, at 2.5 pounds, which may make you think twice.
Controls are easy to reach on top of the box, and the built-in NFC sensor makes it easy to connect up to two Bluetooth devices to about 40 feet in range. The speaker's rear is host to a slew of ports – aux-In, 2.0 USB, micro USB, and microSD card slot – and additional media and recording (!) controls.
The MicroSD card slot serves both as a way to store music and, more impressively, record audio. (More on this in a second.) The USB port can either connect the SR20 to a computer, making it a very practical alternative to computer speakers - or, in a time of need, serve as a power source for charging your other electronics.
It's impossible to fit everything into this form factor, but an LCD panel would've gone a long way here and its absence is felt. Still, what's there works well and for as compact as the SR20 is, there're more bells and whistles than you might expect.