Otis & Eleanor Bongo
Posted on December 20, 2015
I don’t review a lot of tech gadgets here but this is the first of a few I have coming up and what better way to start it off with a bit of a potential holiday gift item. I’ve spent about two months with the Bongo Bluetooth Speaker by Otis & Eleanor and while a bluetooth speaker isn’t something I had considered as a purchase decision before, it’s now on my radar as something that people should absolutely own. The thing about gifts is you want to get the person something they’d really like but probably wouldn’t purchase for themselves. This takes the cake in that department; I think a bluetooth speaker is a great gift for folks who already have everything or won’t cough up what they really want. As a form of further affirmation, this has passed the “significant other” test with flying colors; my girlfriend loves this thing. Click here to view the full article.
Let’s talk about the sound quality first because, let’s face it, that’s what’s really important here. The sacrifice you make with a bluetooth speaker, of which I was fully aware going into this review, is sound quality. I was expecting to take a bigger hit in this department but was fairly impressed by the audio performance of the Bongo. Small speakers are always heavy in the highs and mids but this one makes up some lost ground in the bass department (I’m suspecting, don’t quote me) by the addition of the vented back ports. It gets very loud if you want it to and I’ve experienced literally no issues with distortion even while cranking it. Next on the list in importance is product design. I really like how the bongo looks, pulling it’s design from classic speakers with high quality grille cloth and real natural materials. Bamboo is a phenomenal material from an engineering and sustainability perspective and, while not the classiest wood to encase this speaker, certainly doesn’t hurt it from a design stand point. I like the form of the speaker. Fits easily in your hand, compact enough to throw in your bag and super light weight. I like the way the colored rings cover up the edges of the speaker cloth which gives it a really premium feel, though for a v.2 iteration I’d suggest finding a way to hide those screws. All-in-all it’s a fun little speaker that definitely gets people asking questions at your house or wherever you take it.
Next up is functionality. It’s got a few quirks with pairing. I don’t have a lot of experience pairing bluetooth devices outside of my computer peripherals but once you get the hang of it, it’s super easy to get this thing cooking quickly. I like having the physical buttons on the device to control it’s volume, that way I can leave some headroom on my phone (say, 30%) and put the speaker at the desired volume while having enough space to increase or decrease as needed between tracks from my phone, wherever it is. It’s functionality as a speakerphone or Siri (I’m on an iPhone 6S) extension is pretty poor. The microphone has a really hard time understanding you if you’re more than 5 feet away and there’s a 5-10 second delay between the time you call up Siri and when it actually lets you start talking. But let’s face it, that’s not why you’re buying a bluetooth speaker anyway. They say you get 30 feet of range and that’s exactly what you get. We live in an old house and our walls are made of plaster so heavy materials like that cut down your range fairly significantly. No fault of Otis & Eleanor, just a heads up.
Currently the Bongo is offered in 11 color-schemes with something that’s sure to please everyone. Right now (at the posting of this article) they’re offering 20% off of their top sellers (including this pictured unit which is in the Geneva color way) and free shipping before Christmas to make this gift, whether for you or a friend, a little easier on your wallet.