A well-known brand among the PC industry, Antec is branching out like many other manufacturers. Antec A.M.P. (which stands for Antec Mobile Products) is the branch of Antec that specializes in mobile products. Antec’s foray into mobile peripherals started with an array of audio, power, and cleaning product. Today, we are going to take a look their SP1 portable Bluetooth speaker.
The first glance on the packaging of the SP1 and you will be greeted by the elegant box that Antec is known for. The SP1 will definitely stands out at retail shelves when you walk along the retail aisles as you can clearly see the physical products displaying from the clear plastic casing. In fact, the packaging of the SP1 reminds me a lot of how Apple’s iPod used to be packaged.
Speaking of the color, our SP1 is black with red accenting the front and the rear of the speaker grille. If black is too gloomy for you, Antec has other playful colors for you. You can choose the green with white accent, orange with black, red with black, pink with white, or blue with white. The two tone color is like the other Bluetooth speaker we have reviewed (the Arctic S113BT) but Antec’s implementation is a bit more playful as the solid color is behind the speaker grille that gives the speaker a nice pattern on the speaker grille.
Removing the upper compartment with its clear casing, we can see the where the accessories are packaged underneath.
The SP1 is shipped with a 3.5mm audio cable, a micro USB cable, and a manual. Note inside there is a tiny little sticker with the serial number of the unit; it is not taped onto the SP1. We do like the fact that Antec did not tape it to our speaker. However, we are certain that the tiny sticker will easily get lost. We verified with Antec regarding to the need of the serial number when comes to warranty claim and was informed that it is not necessary but you would need to have the proof of purchase. So, keep the receipt in a safe place. Speaking of warranty, the SP1 comes with 1 year of warranty.
- Size 158(H) x 41(W) x 62(D) mm
- Weight 0.38 kg
- Communication Range 10 M (30 ft)
- Playback Time 10 hrs
- Frequency Response 2.402 ~ 2.480 GHz
- Battery Capacity Li-lon Battery 3.7V
- Bluetooth Standard Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
- Support Profiles Supports Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) 1.2, Hands-Free Profile (HFP) 1.5, Headset Profile (HSP) 1.1
At 158 (H) x 41 (W) x 62 (D) mm and weighs at 0.38 Kg (or 0.8 lbs), the SP1 is very portable. It can easily fit into any backpack or small purse. Inside the SP1 is two speakers that yields stereo audio. Though the physical design of the speaker probably is not easily distinguish the left from right. Still, if you plug in the speaker to your PC and test the stereo audio, you would be able to hear the sound coming from only one of the two sides.
The four sides of the speaker are covered with smooth rubber that feels a lot like some of the rubber back that you see on the phone like the HTC 8X. It gives the speaker a nice feel in hand although the smooth material is a little slippery and easily collecting dust and finger prints. It does provides a good amount of friction when the speaker is placed on any surface to prevent it from sliding back and forth.
Since the SP1’s front and the rear all looks identical, knowing which side is which is a bit difficult. For reference, the text “SP1″ on the top of the phone should be in the right orientation when you look at the speaker with the volume up place on the right side of the volume down.
On the right side, we get the power on/off switch, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the micro USB port for charging.The power on and off button has a little LED indicator. The dual color LED indicator blinks different color: flashes red when the battery is low, alternates read and white when charging, and solid white when fully charged, and flashes white when pairing mode. We like that Antec placed the indicator on the side so it is not distracting while listening to the music. We do, however, prefer to see a more detailed battery level indicator present.
Unlike the Arctic S113BT where the USB port can turn the speaker into a USB speaker, the Antec SP1 will not able to function as an USB speaker. Granted, Antec never advertised such a feature. If you need to use the speaker with a PC or any device that lacks the Bluetooth, you can always opt for the 3.5mm audio connector.
The top of the speaker has the volume control and a single central button that functions as pairing button as well as to answer and end calls while the speaker is operating.
Pairing the SP1 to the mobile device is easy and straight-forward. Simply press the functional button on the top of the speaker and wait for 6 to 8 seconds for the mobile device to detect the speaker. Then precede pairing the two devices on the mobile device by simply tapping on the SP1 under the list of Bluetooth devices. After the first pairing, the subsequent pairing only takes about a couple of seconds. The SP1 supports Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and has a communication range of up to 10 meters (30 feet). So it will work with almost every single device out there. In addition to the EDR profile, the speaker also supports A2DP 1.2, HFP 1.5, and HSP 1.1 for hand free communication. Unfortunately, the device is not the latest Bluetooth 4.0 so you will not get the benefit of additional range (as BT 4.0 supports up to 50 feet).
Many newer wireless speakers now includes NFC for simple pairing by tapping the two devices. The SP1 lacks such feature but from we understand Antec will have a product coming out soon with NFC. Honestly, pairing with NFC is a neat feature but it is not absolute necessary as it takes just a few seconds to go to the phone setting menu to enable the Bluetooth. Getting some of these NFC enabled device to work properly every single time can also be a challenge as well so I do not feel that lacking of such feature is a major downside for the SP1.
The SP1 includes 3.7V Lithium-Ion battery that has a playback time up to 10 hours. We tested the playback by playing music continuously with the volume set to low/mid and was able to play music over 14 hours continuous playback non stop. Of course if the volume is cranked up all the way to the highest level, you would expect the battery to die faster but with the quoted 10 hours, it should last longer than your smartphone or tablet’s battery.
The SP1 is charged via the included 2 feet micro USB cable. I like that Antec included the flat USB cable, and that the cable also has the same rubber material as the speaker. However, I feel that the included cable is a tad too short. Furthermore, I would prefer to see a wall socket power adapter so that you do not always need to plug into a computer to charge the SP1. Luckily, since the SP1 uses micro-USB, you can use any mobile phone charger to charge the device. It takes about 3 to 3.5 hours to fully charge the speaker, which is pretty standard for the speaker of this size.
Ultimately, for a speaker, it is the audio quality that out-weights other gimmicky features. The audio coming out of the SP1 is decent but nothing spectacular. This is somewhat expected given to the size of these small and portable speakers.
The speaker is not as loud as the Arctic S113BT that we looked awhile back, though, the audio seemed to be a bit clearer though. The midrange is good but the high and the bass can be a tad weak. Listening to the music at the same volume, the SP1 has clearer midrange but the bass is not as pronounced as the S113BT. This can actually be a good thing. As oppose to the S113BT where the bass can drone out the vocals when the volume is turned up, the SP1 produces more balanced sound so you can hear the vocals along with a mild bass. However, if you are the type of person that likes heavy earth moving bass, the SP1 is definitely not going to work for you as you will definitely miss the punch. For casual music playback, the SP1 definitely does a decent job.
Using the speaker as a speakerphone works rather well. It is easy to press on the central functional button to answer a call. The audio coming out of the speaker has some echoes and some feedback but the voice is clear. The receivers also reports that it sounded a bit echo-ey as well but they can hear the voice clearly.
At the price of $89, the Antec SP1 is cheaper than other portable Bluetooth speaker like the Jawbone. The cheaper price does sacrifice some features such as Bluetooth 4.0 and an NFC chip. However, we do not think that many people will care much about these features as long as the speaker produces a decent audio quality. For the Antec SP1, the audio quality is decent but the bass is noticeably lacks the boom and punch. Still, given to its size and price, we will say it performs admirably across different ranges of audio. For casual users who need a portable speaker, the SP1 is certainly worth considering.
|Great packagingLight and portableSturdy construction
Good battery life
Easy to use/access button
|No battery level indicatorBass is not as strong as some other speakersNo Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity