That Xiaomi makes some of the best value-for-money smartphones you can buy in India is nothing new. However, the company also manufactures a range of audio products, including headphones, earphones, soundbars, and wireless speakers. Like the company's smartphones, these audio products are affordably priced and appeal to budget users. One of the latest audio products from Xiaomi is the Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker, which was launched in India in February for Rs. 1,399.
The Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker is compact, affordable, and promises a lot for the price, including IPX5 water resistance and connection stability thanks to Bluetooth 5. We've reviewed this new affordable speaker from Xiaomi, and here's what we think.
As the word ‘outdoor' in the product name suggests, this speaker is meant for use outside. Although going outside wasn't really possible for us during this review thanks to the nationwide lockdown, we did manage to put the speaker to the test in some simulated outdoor environments. The speaker is IPX5 rated for water resistance, giving it a bit of protection from the elements, real or simulated.
An IPX5 rating suggests that the speaker can survive a sustained low-pressure water jet spray. We tested this safely on our own by lightly splashing water on the speaker and holding it under a running tap. The Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker isn't rated to be fully submerged in water, so that's something you should avoid - and be particularly careful about around pools or bathtubs, since accidents can happen.
The fabric cover over the speaker driver did manage to keep water out even under a lightly flowing tap. The rubber-embossed buttons around the sides meant that water didn't have an easy way to sneak into the electronic bits of the Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker. There's also a tight rubber flap that protects the Micro-USB port and 3.5mm socket when they aren't needed.
The Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker is small and easy to handle, thanks to an elastic strap at the top and a rubber base which lets the speaker stay planted on most flat surfaces.
While we usually kept the speaker flat with the driver facing upwards for the best sound, the strap made it easy to simply tie or hang the speaker from a suitable hook, and sound was decent this way as well.
Under the fabric top layer is a single 5W speaker driver and a 2,000mAh battery that promises 20 hours of use on a single charge. We were able to get around 15 hours with the device playing at high volumes; pretty good for a speaker of this size and price.
Despite its compactness and single speaker driver, the Mi Outdoor Bluetooth speaker is loud, punchy, and fun. The sound is driven and bass-happy, and works well with fast, exciting tracks. For best results, turn the volume all the way up. The speaker sounded pretty good even at the 80 percent volume level, but at low volumes, we felt that it lost all of its drive.
Listening to Zombies On Your Lawn from the Plants vs Zombies soundtrack, we loved how the speaker rumbled as the bass kicked in. We also found that the bass sounded best when the speaker was placed on a thick, hard surface, while soft materials took a bit of the punch out of the sound. The highs sounded crisp as well, and vocals were distinct and clear throughout the track.
Switching to Keep It Close by Seven Lions, we were impressed with how sharp and defined the sound was. The manufactured bass elements in this dubstep track sounded almost electric, lending an interesting new character to this track. Unlike most other compact devices in this price range, the Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker produces a clean, even sound that offers enough by way of bass and treble, while also letting the mid-range shine through.
You can take the Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker along with you on trips or use it by the pool. The sound will be good enough if you're close to the speaker and can place it on a hard, flat surface. Interestingly, the speaker is a lot more capable indoors, making us wonder whether the product name might discourage a lot of potential buyers. It's loud enough for a small room, and more than effective for personal listening along with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. There's even a microphone, so you can use it for hands-free calls; sound was decent enough for this as well.
Affordable wireless speakers have often disappointed us, but the Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker is a refreshing splash of fun in an otherwise drab space. The speaker looks good, is built well, and offers a fair bit more by way of water resistance than most other wireless speakers priced at under Rs. 1,500. Good sound quality and decent battery life are the icing on the cake.
While there are some decent options in the market from brands such as Boat, JBL, and Philips that are also worth considering, the Xiaomi Mi Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker gets the value-for-money proposition right. It's a complete package, and we'd recommend it if you're looking for an entry-level wireless speaker, regardless of whether you use it indoors or outdoors.
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