The Soen Transit wireless Bluetooth speaker ($169.95) is an incredibly nice piece of gear. It's beautifully designed. The box is beautifully designed. The Transit's fit and finish makes it exactly the kind of electronic device that makes a perfect gift.
It's small (3.8" high x 6.6" wide x 1.3" thick) and weighs only half a pound, making it perfect for travel. There's a weighted kickstand on the back that gives a satisfying clunk when it pops open and a strong click when you put it away.
There's a magnetic cover to protect the speaker grill during travel and the rest of the speaker has a protective rubber coating. It's survived multiple trips this year with nary a scratch.
Soen claims 8 hours of battery life and the Transit model I tested came in at about 7 hours a charge with usage spread out over several days. Bluetooth pairing with an iPhone was easy and the speaker remembered the initial pairing with no frustrations or complications.
There's a battery charger and USB charging cable in the box, as well as a 3.5mm audio cable. The Transit works well as speaker phone: if you're in the habit of doing conference calls around a table on business trips, the speaker will make a great impression when you pull it out of your bag. The Transit is also available in red or purple, although those models come with a cloth travel bag instead of the magnetic protective cover.
How's it sound? It sounds really good, but it doesn't sound great for the price. For example, it doesn't really compare to the Cambridge Audio Go, which sounds amazing for $179 and offers insanely good battery life. But the Go is a lot larger and heavier and the grill is easily dented even if you're using its travel bag.
As a travel tradeoff, the Transit is a good choice. And, like I mentioned at the top of this review, it has the kind of luxury fit and finish that makes a great gift. Leave price out of it, and it feels great to use a well-made device like this one. If audio quality isn't your #1 concern, the Soen Transit makes a strong case for itself.