BY NATHAN WERTZ - THISANDTHATTECH.COM
The BTi65 Wireless Speaker is VisionTek's new, rugged solution (IP65 Dust Tight & Water Resistant) for those wanting a Bluetooth speaker that can take a beating (MSRP $39.99).
Build Quality/Initial ImpressionsMy first thought out of the box is that the BTi65 resembles a tape measure in its sturdiness, shape, and heft (10 ounces), yet it's slightly larger at 3 3/4" x 3 3/4" x 2". The outside is covered with a rubbery material that presumably could take a beating and I wouldn't think twice about "tossing" it over to someone, even if that meant risk of falling on cement.
The buttons themselves are slightly raised and feel "clicky" to the touch. They include your typical power and volume up/down, while the pause/play button also doubles as a means to answer an incoming phone call thanks to the built-in microphone, much like what we saw with the SoundTube Pro.
Other notables include a carry strap and flip-back cover over the Micro USB charging port and auxiliary-in, which is permanently attached to the BTi65 and prevents any water or debris from getting to the internals. Speaking of water and debris, the BTi65 is IP65 rated, which means that it is completely dust tight and protected from projectile water of any direction. Lastly, there's something I haven't seen on previous Bluetooth wireless speakers, which is quite interesting: There's a 1/4" mounting thread, which means it could easily fit onto a tripod of some kind.
Included in the box is a micro USB cable for charging, a 3.5mm auxiliary cable as an alternative to a Bluetooth connection, and a user manual. The BTi65 features a 1 year warranty as long as the product is registered within 30 days of purchase.
Specs and Features:
- Connections: Wireless Bluetooth 4, 3.5mm AUX-In, Micro USB for charging
- Water Resistance Rating: IPx65
- Speaker Power: 5W, with immersive passive bass.
- Battery: Built-In Rechargeable 3.7V/2000mAh
- Play Time: 10 Hours+
- Max Sound Level: ≥ 75dB
- Dimensions: 98 x 90 x 50mm
UsePowering on the BTi65 greets you with a tone and blinking blue notification light while it searches for a connection. Once a connection is made, a little jingle plays and the notification light becomes a solid blue color. Very simple and didn't have any problems connecting it to my mobile device.
The volume up/down buttons are responsive and also double as the next/previous track selector. Pressing and holding either button skips forward or backward. You can only do this one song at a time, though. I would have liked the ability to double-tap and move to multiple tracks in either direction, but certainly not a deal breaker.
The mini strap at the top is a nice touch and handy when you want to quickly move it around or carry it just using a finger. Nice for easy transportation and easily removable if need be.
The 1/4" mounting thread is also an interesting addition and I didn't have any problems attaching it to various mounts. I'm not sure how many people out there are in need of a mounting thread, but it's nice to know that it's there.
SoundAt this price point, Bluetooth speaker sound quality can fall all over the spectrum. In the case of the BTi65's, the vocals are warm and highs/mids are more than acceptable. The lows are a bit lackluster for my liking, but it's to be expected in such a compact device. To be fair, though, I've never found a compact Bluetooth speaker at this price point that really wowed me when it came to bass.
As far as volume, the BTi65 can put out quite a bit for its form factor. For casual use inside your home, you probably won't ever need to fully crank it. Even in separate rooms, I didn't feel the need to turn it up all the way.
I tried the auxiliary cord to see if I could distinguish any difference in sound quality, but it appears to either sound the same or just ever so slightly better with the Bluetooth connection. This mirrors what I experienced with the SoundTube Pro as well. You probably won't need it, but it's nice to have if there is a lot of wireless noise or your device isn't Bluetooth capable.
Built-in MicrophoneOne of the more interesting features of VisionTek's new speaker line is that of the built-in microphone for taking phone calls. Functioning much like the SoundTube Pro, a simple press of the play button will connect you and your caller, and the music will promptly return upon hanging up. The Bluetooth speaker user can sound a bit distant to the caller, but it's more than passable and adds some versatility to your listening experience. Honestly, after experimenting with the microphone feature on VisionTek's BTi65 and SoundTube Pro, it's a must-have for me going forward.
RangeReportedly the range is 30 feet, but I was able to get a staggering 45+ feet of range, through two walls, before I was able to hear the signal drop. In all cases, taking a few steps closer to the speaker resulted in the music starting back up again. Pretty impressive.
ChargingThe BTi65 charges in 3-4 hours and can provide about 8-10 hours of play time, which is reasonable for this type of Bluetooth speaker.
ConclusionThere's certainly a lot of competition in the under $50 range for Bluetooth speakers. Look, that can lead to a bit of decision fatigue with so many options out there in the marketplace. Many speakers at this price point sound very similar and it really comes down to what kind of features you really need. However, if you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker that is under $50, dustproof, water resistant, features excellent range, and has a built-in microphone, I can confidently say that you can't go wrong with the BTi65.