Not another bluetooth speaker!
Well, yes... but if you've ever been impressed by someone else's speaker, because it does something yours doesn't - it might be time for an upgrade.
For those of you suffering from a bit of speaker envy, there is an option that packs a lot of features into one small box...
The Sony SRS-XB31 is the everything, everywhere, every time speaker. Waterproof, dust-proof, small enough to pop into a bag, big enough for Sony's Extra Bass technology to do its thing.
Sony really has made a lot of noise (deliberate pun) about the Extra Bass feature - and justifiably so. The SRS-ZB31 is not large - just 23cm across - yet the bass response is big, warm, clear and powerful. Whether it's the acoustic double bass of a jazz trio or a more oonce-oonce dance beat, it all booms out of this little box.
In fact, I've been impressed with the sound quality generally - and not just playing music. I actually paired the speaker with my telly to use as a kind of mini-soundbar. It worked surprisingly well, producing a much wider dynamic picture than my TV's built-in speakers - especially bass-wise. Unfortunately I couldn't squeeze quite enough actual volume out of it to keep this as my TV sound setup in the lounge - the room is just too big for one small speaker to fill.
Of course, the SRS-ZB31 can link to other Sony speakers via the "Party Chain" function - so that could still work.
This is also Sony's poolside/on-the-beach option. The SRS-ZB31 carries an IP67 water and dust resistance rating. Now be warned; that's not an IPX rating which would make it legitimately submergeable, but you can't actually listen to music underwater anyway... unless you're a whale. I've tried pretty hard to break this thing. I've showered with it. I've cooked with it. I've dropped it in the sink. This kind of behaviour goes against all my natural instincts of course, I was born with an innate sense of respect for technology. Luckily, water, flour, crumbs, soapsuds - pretty much everything I've thrown at the SRS-ZB31 has bounced right off.
It even has flashy lights. Coloured LEDs. Strobes. The whole works. All of this can be controlled using Sony's Music Center app, which allows you to tweak things like EQ and connected apps too.
Oh, and you can hit it to make your own drum sounds. Yup, basically a whole party in one package. While other speakers may do some of these things better, there aren't many that do them all. It's pretty fun.