iDeaUSA WiFi Speaker, Bluetooth Speakers, MultiRoom Wireless Speaker Ultimate Entry Level Home Speaker ★★★★☆
I had the opportunity to test out both this iDeaUSA WiFi / Smart Speaker and the Bose SoundTouch 10. Both have pluses and minuses, but both follow a similar goal: getting music directly on the speaker without the need for an external device.
That said, you CAN get music to it using your external device — such as a Smartphone or tablet — using Bluetooth or the AUX port. But that’s pretty common. What these speakers offer you is a way to connect directly to a music service. Sorta like cutting out the middleman.
Both support services like Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify, but differ in services like Deezer (Bose) and TuneIn (iDeaUSA). There are some Chinese specific services on the iDeaUSA WiFi Speaker that I don’t even recognize; they just show a list of channels in Chinese characters that I cannot interpret. Not sure how useful they are for a US market, but hey, it was kinda fun listening to for a few minutes. (Update 8/2/16: the app has been updated on Google Play to no longer list Chinese music services.)
Both depend on apps for initial configuration. While the Bose SoundTouch can do both PC and mobile, the iDea Home app is solely dependent on mobile devices. I was slightly less impressed with the iDea Home app over the Bose SoundTouch app mainly because with iDea Home, you have to search for your device every time you open it. In contrast, the Bose SoundTouch app remembers the device and goes right into the menu. Beyond some missing features like a thumbs up and thumbs down button for Pandora songs, The iDea Home app can also be difficult to find your way around in. At least, it was at first. I spent a fair amount of time clicking on things and dragging on others, but after awhile I pretty much got the gist of it. The included user guide proves to be helpful if you take the time to read it, which gives you detailed instructions including how to setup your preset channels.
The present channels really are the key feature for both devices. Both let you pick a station and set it to 1 of 6 total channels. The Bose SoundTouch 10 displays those six channel buttons at the top of the speaker where you can directly press them one at a time, whereas the iDeaUSA WiFi Speaker gives you one button that you short press to toggle between them. Personally, I like the quick and direct way the Bose does this, but both methods are effective, and both require initial setting up within the app.
One thing I don’t like about the iDeaUSA WiFi Speaker buttons is the delayed action. To turn it on, you have to hold down the power button for a good four to six seconds. From there it takes another minute or so to start up and connect to the WiFi. Then and only then will it connect to your music service. With the Bose SoundTouch 10, you simply press the preset button and it starts playing your music within seconds. Additionally, you can turn the Bose speaker on and off from the app, you cannot with the iDea Home app.
There is a male voice that accompanies the iDeaUSA WiFi Speaker, and unlike several other Chinese systems I’ve received in the past, the voice on this one comes from a native English speaker. Rather than a foreigner attempting to say English words, poorly, the one here is very clear and easy to understand. He says things like, “Power On, System Starting, Please Launch the Idea Home App, WiFi connected, and Power Off.” That said, I wasn’t able to find a way to turn the voice off, and it can get annoying at times. But that’s just a personal preference; it can be nice to have on so you know what the status of your speaker is. The Bose SoundTouch 10 does not have any voice prompts at all.
If you have read this far, you may be thinking I prefer the Bose SoundTouch 10 over the iDeaUSA WiFi / Smart Speaker. In some ways that may be true, but I haven’t gotten to the best part yet. The most usefully feature the iDeaUSA has that the Bose does not is a battery. That’s right, the Bose is anchored to a specific location due to the need for a constant AC connection, which makes moving it around a pain. While the iDeaUSA WiFi Speaker also plugs into an AC outlet, you can unplug it and it will keep playing. Impressively, the battery lasts quite a few hours too. I had the speaker plugged in at my kitchen counter, then grabbed it and took it outside with me as I was loading up my moving truck. I was out there for hours before grabbing the speaker and taking it into the garage. It kept on playing without a hiccup. As long as it can still access the WiFi, Bluetooth casting device or other connect type, you’re good to move it around wherever you like. This is a great plus to the device and is good for picnics or taking to the poolside.
Interestingly, the Bose SoundTouch 10 only has one speaker, whereas the iDeaUSA has two. That’s a difference between mono and stereo. While the Bose does an excellent job at midrange sounds, the iDeaUSA WiFi Speaker pushes up the bass quite a bit. Both devices can go fairly loud, with the Bose holding the same sound quality and the iDeaUSA lowering the bass and increasing the treble to help push the sound further into the distance without damaging the speakers. At least, that’s what it sounded like to my ears. This makes them both good outdoor speakers with the iDeaUSA having the advantage, if only for the portability.
Overall, I really like both these speakers. With the Bose SoundTouch 10, I like the simple to use app, the easy to press presets, the quick music load, the physical remote control, and the quality midrange sound. With the iDeaUSA WiFi / Smart Speaker, I like the stereo sound, extra bass, and most of all the internal rechargeable battery. Both are very well built; the plastic used is sturdy and solid, and both have rubber feet good for securing to smooth surfaces like glass. The buttons are well seated and the overall weight speaks of good quality parts.
If I were to choose one for simplicity, it would be the Bose. If I were to choose one for portability, it would be the iDeaUSA. For sound quality, it’s just a matter of taste between solid midrange, and stereo with more bass. In reality, they have their own strengths and weaknesses. You just have to decide which features (and perhaps services) are most important to you.