We seem to be reviewing wireless speakers more and more frequently. Bluetooth, AirPlay and the like are becoming an inclusion that consumers now simply expect to see packaged into products such as speakers. So the Samsung ultra portable BS300 Bluetooth Speaker looks like the ideal speaker to churn out a bigger, richer sound in a hurry and conveniently.
The size of the speaker is miniature. It's smaller than an iPhone and sits neatly in the palm of a hand. It's also very light, weighing a measly 62g. Despite the very colourful graphics found on the retail packaging, the BS300 only comes in one colour, that being black. We felt this was a shame and that Samsung missed an opportunity to be creative with the colour schemes. They could have produced multi coloured speakers, where the speaker grills and middle/rear of the speaker were different colours. This would have no doubt helped the BS300 stand out within the ultra portable handheld speaker market.
The build is solid. The plastics used throughout nearly the entire exterior of the speaker are rugged, and the grills of the speaker are tough metal. We frequently kept the speaker within a trouser pocket and noticed it can take quite a beating due to the build being condensed and solid.
Bluetooth is the flagship feature this speaker incorporates; the version of Bluetooth used is 2.0. The setup process is very easy and simple. All we had to do was hold down the power button when turning the unit on for a duration of five seconds plus and the speaker went into pairing mode indicated by blue and red flashing LED lights on the front. All devices we used to pair with the BS300 did so with no hiccups. Samsung claim the Bluetooth range is ten metres and from our tests this claim is accurate in wide open areas, walls are something the BS300 has trouble with though.
Over Bluetooth the audio output can be controlled from the buttons on the speaker. The volume, skipping of tracks and pausing/playing of audio is all controllable. We found that these operations worked flawlessly with smartphones and tablets, including those from Apple and Samsung. Another neat and useful feature is the ability to answer incoming phone calls via the BS300 allowing for hands free and conference call usage. It has a single round button on the front for this purpose and underneath a microphone is located. The quality of this is clear and picks up vocals from a distance well, too, this has its positives and negatives but definitely makes having phone calls walking around, say, an office room for example, easier.
Audio quality sounded exactly the same over Bluetooth and through the optional audio-in cable for people who don't have access to Bluetooth. Audio produced from the two one watt speakers is deeper and richer than most smartphone, music player and tablet speakers. Mid to high range is distinctive and playful, the bass is soft but present. The audio output has all the characteristics of a nice speaker. But unfortunately it's not very loud. It's only a few notches louder than the iPhone 5 speaker and this sort of makes the BS300 a less attractive object to carry around and use. We used the speaker with the volume fully cranked and still kept wanting to turn it up further.
Stereo separation isn't very obvious but Samsung have included a feature called DNSe, which they claim adds a 3D surround sound effect. We'd have to throw that claim out of the window, but what it does do well is to distinguish the stereo separation. In the process of doing this the bass is loosened and volume is a tad quieter too. The BS300 lies on its rear which has four rubber grips that keep the speaker secure when lying on most surfaces. The direction of sound isn't greatly different whether the speaker is tilted at an angle or facing upwards, which surprised us.
Battery life wasn't too shabby. We received a solid three and a half hours of playback with maximum volume. The speaker charges via USB and a charging cable is included in the retail box.
Overall the Samsung BS300 Speaker provides nice audio quality but is very much lacking in volume. And for this reason it doesn't fulfil its intended purpose, especially at the £27 price point. We'd recommend the cheaper and non-Bluetooth X-mini 2 Capsule Speaker or the Marware UpSurge Speaker over the BS300, despite the fact it includes convenient Bluetooth.