Marware have decided to enter the portable speaker scene with the UpSurge mini speaker. We've been testing it over the past month and have mostly liked what we've heard and seen.
The UpSurge speaker comes in five colours: black, blue, pink, purple and silver. The rounded design is visually one of the best we've used of this style. Its body is made from a high grade brushed aluminium and feels very substantial, but mildly more delicate than that of the similar X-mini Capsule speakers. At the bottom of the UpSurge sit three mini grip feet, stopping it from scratching surfaces and holding it firmly in place when being used. The speaker has a saturn metallic finish that looks and feels expensive.
This pocket-sized speaker provides good sound quality which exceeds its size. The easy to twist design extends the speaker, allowing it to amplify and enhance the bass and overall sound quality. We really enjoyed the volume of the output that offers a significant boost when compared to the basic quality of sound from most smartphone and tablet speakers. It is great both for listening to music or playing the audio track on videos, although the included cable could be longer. When we cranked the volume there was no sign of distortion, which is always surprising with small speakers, and the output has a particularly crystal clear quality. In our tests the lithium-ion battery lasts for around four hours at just over 70% of the total volume and it's easy to recharge via the USB charging cable that comes with it.
The compact design makes it realistic to have on the go, but it can be annoying having to take the loose wire in addition. This really would be better contained within or on the speaker body. Ideally we'd have liked Bluetooth to have been implemented like the X-mini Kai sports, but realise that this would have the knock on effect of a higher price. Of course, the use of a 3.5mm headphone jack enables its use with a huge selection of devices such as laptops, MP3 Players, tablets, mobile phones and portable gaming devices. It is advertised as being particularly suitable for the Kindle Fire, which is true, but other speakers would also do the job.
Altogether the Marware UpSurge speaker has a loud clear sound output and is easy to carry around. It's priced at $29.99, similar to other mini plug-in wired speakers, making it a true contender within this market.