During a recent trip, I had enough of a layover in the Houston airport to do some browsing. One of my favorite browsing spots, in an airport, is the gadget/electronics boutique. I don’t really visit those types of airport stores to purchase, but more to see what’s new in the gadget world and see if anything peaks my interest. One of the first items I came across was the new backpacks and laptop bags with power chargers built in. Pretty neat. I took more than a short look at them, but eventually decided they were a bit too much since I now travel with only the Microsoft Surface. I enjoy traveling with the Microsoft Surface, as it makes security a breeze and lightens my load considerably. The power bags add a lot of weight and bulk. So, I decided they’re just not for me.
However, the thought of having portable charging did interest me. And, as I browsed the rest of the store, the idea really started nagging my brain. Then, I came across the audio section of the store where they had portable speakers. I use the Surface quite a bit for streaming XBOX music and movies, and of course, Netflix and Hulu, so a portable speaker made sense. I already had a portable speaker, but it was not stellar. But, then I noticed some of the portable audio devices I came across also had other features. Not only did they provide Bluetooth wireless audio, but they also doubled as a wireless speakerphone for your smartphone AND a portable USB charging brick. Now, that was something useful.
I didn’t buy anything that day due to the way the airport stores jack up the prices, but it started the thought process about how valuable something like this could be.
After researching a bit on price and features, I finally settled on the Braven BZ600GBA 600 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker/PowerBank. I found it and purchased it at Amazon.com (my favorite shopping place).
The Braven 600 is only about 6 inches long, almost 2 inches wide (sits comfortably on a window sill) and only weighs 1 pound, ensuring that my load is still light during travel. It fits neatly at the bottom of my favorite traveling backpack, adding very little bulk to my current arrangement. And, it’s built well enough that I don’t have to worry about it busting from the stress of normal travel. I’ve yet to test the actual length of the battery life, but the manufacturer touts 12 hours of simultaneous music, audio, and con-calls.
So, here I sit, writing this on my Surface Pro in front of me, and the Braven 600 sitting across the way filling the room with music. The unit must be in line-of-sight to work, i.e., it’s not meant to work through walls, but it can wirelessly stream up to 33 feet, which is perfect for the hotel rooms at THE Hotel for MMS 2013.
BTW: SolarWinds is giving away something similar to the Braven for the Twitter Army at MMS 2013. Check it out: The list of myITforum give-aways at MMS 2013
The speakerphone is phenomenal, providing clarity for both me and the remote caller, turning my smartphone into a true “office phone”, which might allow me to dump the cost of my dedicated office line. I’ll have to think and test a bit more before I do that, though, but the option is on the table.
But, the true test will come during the trip to MMS 2013 in a couple weeks, where I’ll be trying out the portable charging portion. It works great here in the office, but a good test can only come during travel. But, it is nice to know that if you need to charge your smartphone you don’t have to fight others at the airport for the only wall outlet at the gate. I try my best to choose my gate seating based on proximity to the power outlets, but this last trip was a bit tougher. There was a pack of power vampires at the gate, huddled around the power outlet the entire time like a group of homeless people warming themselves on a cold night around a burning barrel. So, this trip, I can just locate a comfortable seat near the television, charge my smartphone inside my bag using the Braven 600 and just smirk at the power hungry travelers. I’ll let you know how it goes.
The one thing I don’t like about the Braven 600, is not the unit’s fault at all, but more of a Surface issue. Why did Microsoft not give us a USB charging option for the Surface?? So, while I can use the Braven 600 to charge my smartphone, I still have to worry about the Surface Pro’s limited battery life. One piece of my research was looking for a standard power plug option just so I could charge the Surface Pro, but there’s nothing like that available.
Anyway…the Braven 600 is a great option for music, calls, and portable charging. I’m happy with it, so far, and I’m sure it will prove just as valuable during MMS 2013 and then into TechEd in New Orleans later in June.
Amazon.com has the Braven 600 for $149.99 and comes in grey and red: Braven BZ600GBA 600 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker/PowerBank