Sometimes, when vendors send me “would you like to try” requests, I respond with a blanket, “yes,” without reading anything about the product. Such is the case when I received my invite to try the Inateck Bluetooth Speaker with built-in tablet stand.
When the speaker actually arrived, I was even less enthusiastic about the device’s potential.
The awkwardly stuck Inateck sticker plate didn’t exactly exude confidence in this device.
First the bad
The sticker plate wasn’t the only feature missing from the finished product.
Oddly, even the most mundane of functions, volume control, is missing from this Inateck Bluetooth speaker. The missing volume button means you’ll have to control the loudness from your connected device. That’s not really an issue, just annoying.
However, the most annoying factor was the significant issues I had trying to link any Bluetooth device. I literally spent minutes connecting the tablet and speaker only to get bumped. Rinse. Repeat. Now, that’s an issue.
At first I thought the biggest connectivity issue was with my phone — I tested the speaker at my office without a tablet first — that’s running Android L. With all of its problems, I was certain Android L had a part to play in the problem. Not true. I had real difficulty connecting any of my five Android devices. My Inateck Bluetooth speaker seems to hate Android devices.
To complicate matters, there’s no real instruction on how to pair the device, or even to tell when the two devices are paired. There’s an annoying beeping sound that gets even more annoying when you’re addressing the additional problem of pairing. The only indication that Bluetooth’s even remotely broadcasting is a very useless Bluetooth logo light.
At times I wanted to hurtle the speaker off into the road for a well-deserved car crush.
Finally, I’d connect the tablet and speaker for wonderous melodies. At least for a few seconds, until the speaker disconnected, and I’d start the fun again. What’s the definition of insanity?
Ultimately, I found the best way to actually keep the connection intact was to start my mobile device’s Bluetooth first, then turn on the Inateck Bluetooth speaker. I’m about successful about 60% of the time on the first try using this method.
Maybe it’s not so bad
Thankfully, when you persist in getting the mobile device paired with the speaker, I think you’ll be pleasantly satisfied with the sound quality.
I’m not saying this speaker sounds like a top-notch sound system, but it’s comparable to a number of other low-end Bluetooth speakers.
The idea of a tablet holder/Bluetooth speaker made me scoff when I first handled the device. I couldn’t imagine any situation where I’d actually use this speaker to hold my tablet.
But that’s not the case anymore. I took the tablet and speaker back to my office for testing and found this speaker’s perfect to use with Air Display. The speaker features a nice kick out stand to add support with the connected tablet.
From here, the only suggestion I have is to use the tablet in portrait mode rather than landscape. I prefer reading documents “naturally,” as opposed to scrolling down each time.
My only complaint is that there’s no charging connector to keep your tablets juiced. (That’d be difficult with so many varieties of connections.) Here’s a second reason why I think portrait mode is the best option for this stand. Being able to access your tablet’s charging port is a huge plus. (You could rotate your tablet so the charging port is accessible.)
Bang for buck?
Overall, I’m giving this speaker 3 of 5 stars. It’s not the best one I’ve seen, but there are worse. The sound quality is decent, which makes this speaker a perfect option for an office desktop. The speaker’s also not too obtrusive (minus the tablet), so theoretically, you can set it on your desktop and not take up too much space.
Honestly, I think the $29.99 price tag is a bit too high for this speaker, which feels more plastic than power. I’d be worried about the durability over distance.
Finally, this isn’t the most portable device (that award goes to my Jambox) in the discount speaker market. The speaker is almost 9.5 inches (240 mm) wide (though it’s slightly slimmer), so it’s tough to fit in small spaces. When I carry this around I feel like I’m carrying a rolling pin prepared to cold-cock my worst enemy. (I’d refrain because I’m afraid the speaker will break on impact, thus minimizing my chances of a clean escape.)
If you’re looking for a better way to hold your tablet on the desk, the Inateck Bluetooth speaker is a good possibility. Otherwise, select one of the smaller speakers.
Update (08/29/14): The folks at Inateck were very embarrassed by the picture with the messed up logo tab. They offered, and I accepted, a replacement speaker. Of course, the missing metal logo tab only affects the aesthetics of the device and not the sound quality or overall function. But, this event goes to show just how committed this company is to the overall quality of their products. I really respect that.
In truth, this Inateck Bluetooth speaker is perfect for a limited number of instances, or just about anything you want to throw at it. It’s bulkier than other speakers, but doesn’t feel that way.