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Kobo Aura H2O Review

The Kobo Aura H2O is a high-end eReader with an advantage over Amazon's Kindles. Here's our full review...
Should I Buy The Kobo Aura H2O?
There are a few disadvantages to the Aura H2O that are important to note, such as processing power and unresponsive interface. Processing is quite slow and menus, settings and controls take a bit longer to display.
You can also see faint after-effects of previous images, pages or texts when you flip to the next page, though this is also common in Kindles
Overall, what sets the Kobo Aura H2O apart from its competitors is its water resistance. This device is the only one of its kind to be able to withstand 1m of water for 30 minutes.
The waterproof feature does, however, come with a cost - literally. At £149.99 it is £40 more than the Kindle Paperwhite, which can’t take a dip but is less expensive and more responsive than the Aura.
If you’re sold by the waterproof feature and willing to invest a tad more, then the Aura H2O is a solid competitor to …





The Best Bluetooth Speakers Of 2018

The Best Bluetooth Speakers Of 2018
Sometimes you get what you pay for, and this is often the case with audio products. Although there are some decent budget options, here we round up the best Bluetooth speakers that money can buy.
Prices start at £149 here, which is pretty good for a high-end device, and range all the way up to £499. Most are around the £250 mark, though.

In the Bluetooth speaker market, there’s a wide range of devices available. You might be looking for the best portable Bluetooth speaker with the longest battery life, or perhaps the biggest speaker for your lounge to provide pumping sounds for your party. Then there are speakers which are somewhere in the middle and are big but still portable.

The difficulty in putting together a group test of the best Bluetooth speakers is that each brand offers a range of different products to suit those varying needs. We’ve made sure there’s a decent selection here and for each manufacturer we’ve presented the options for other models from the respective range since we can only look at one each.

What to look out for when buying a Bluetooth speaker
So, what kind of things should you watch out for when on the market for a high-end Bluetooth speaker?

As mentioned, there are lots of different types of Bluetooth speaker so if you want to easily take one around with you then make sure it’s small and portable. And that it has a battery to power it rather than needing mains power.

Although you’re likely to connect your phone or tablet to the speaker over Bluetooth, having other connections can really useful. For example, you might have a mp3 player like an old iPod which still works fine but doesn’t have Bluetooth. If so, look for a speaker with a 3.5mm jack (most of them have one). Some also offer ports including phono which are handy for connecting things like your TV or a record player.

Whereas Bluetooth used to be a primary way of connecting to a speaker without wires, some now feature Wi-Fi on the spec sheet which  is useful for various reasons. It might mean you can connect your device to it over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth - this is how Apple’s AirPlay works (although not exclusively).

Having Wi-Fi might also add the ability to use the speaker directly with streaming services like Spotify or internet radio stations so you’re not limited to what tunes you’ve got on your device.

Remember that Sonos speakers like the new Play:5 and the Play:1 come highly recommended by us, but they don't feature Bluetooth so don't qualify for this group. Read about the best Sonos speakers.

Note: Where we mention pairing up devices as a stereo pair or multi-room capabilities, this is not something we’ve been able to test every time as we’ve only been sent one of each speaker.

Best Bluetooth Speakers 2018

Kef Muo
  • RRP: £299
Although it's one of the smallest high-end Bluetooth speakers available, don't judge it on this basis. For starters, the Muo has an exquisite finish made from a single piece of aluminum designed by Ross Lovegrove, the man behind Kef's iconic Muon speakers. It not only looks nice but is designed to eliminate vibration and project sound optimally.

You can pair devices to it easily with the NFC chip and despite being pint-sized, the Muo will keep pumping out tunes for up to 12 hours. If you're feeling flush, you can also buy two and create a stereo pair out of them. A Micro-USB port is for charging and there’s also a 3.5mm jack if you need a wired connection.

It's astonishing the punch that this tiny speaker achieves thanks to its two 50mm drivers - which benefit from Kef's Uni-Q technology - a bass radiator and the aptX Bluetooth codec. The drivers are actually tuned so one handles more bass than the other so it works quite nicely putting the speaker on its end.

The combination of precision craftsmanship and polished sound quality make the Kef Muo easily one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers around. Classy stuff.


Marshall Stanmore
  • RRP: £350
If you're set on getting a good looking Bluetooth speaker then Marshall is here to help. The Stanmore is the middle of the range and comes in various colours including our favourite, brown. You get that iconic style of Marshall's guitar amps including all the little details which make it feel special like the toggle power switch and tactile dials - it's just a shame they don’t go to 11!

If you like a lot of choice when it comes to connectivity then the Stanmore is a decent choice. Aside from Bluetooth with aptX, it has 3.5mm jack with a nice cable included and RCA so you can connect devices such as a record player.

The Stanmore provides a big but balanced sound - rich bass comes from the 5 and 1/4in woofer but mids and highs aren't forgotten with two 3/4in tweeters. All of which are powered by Class-D amps. Even if the sound isn't quite to your taste or the speaker’s surroundings, you can easily make adjustments with dedicated bass and treble dials.

•    Marshall Woburn

Ruark MR1 Mk2
  • RRP: £329
Most Bluetooth speakers don't offer a true stereo speaker setup but if that's what you're after then Ruark is on hand. The MR1 speakers will go nicely with a PC, laptop or just as a pair of bookshelf speakers to use with a phone or tablet.

A new Mk2 model gives the speakers a fresh look with a Soft Grey lacquer or Rich Walnut veneer. You still get features such as Bluetooth aptX, a physical dial and a remote control.

New features include larger 25mm tweeters and an optical port so you can use the speakers with even more devices including TVs. We're still blown away by the big and powerful sound these tiny cabinets are able to produce. You won't be disappointed. 

•    Ruark R1 Mk3
•    Ruark R2 Mk3

UE Megaboom
  • RRP: £249
In Ultimate Ears' own words, the Megaboom is a 'portable wireless speaker on steroids'. It's the biggest of the range, as the name suggests, but it's not quite as large as we expected. Offering the same look and feel as the smaller option but packing more punch.

As usual it's available in a range of colours and the speaker is pretty durable with both shock- and waterproof credentials. Its got NFC for easily pairing devices over Bluetooth, a whopping 20 hour battery life and a 30m wireless range. There's also a handy 3.5mm jack and a standard camera mount in case you want pop it on a tripod or similar.

The main advantage of the Megaboom is the 360 degree sound which is surprisingly good - you can place it in any orientation and hear it nicely from any direction. If you like you can pair two as a stereo pair. It's not got the most amazing sound as standard compared to some rivals but you can use the app on iOS or Android to make tweaks with an EQ.

•    UE Roll
•    UE Boom 2

B&O Play A2
  • RRP: £299
The Play A2 is an unusual Bluetooth speaker with its rectangular flat design and a leather strap at one end to easily carry it around. It's a shame about the plastic finish on the outside despite an aluminium core but it does come in some stylish colour combinations (despite ours being plain black).

If it's longevity you need then the A2 can last for up to 24 hours listening time at moderate levels and like the JBL Xtreme can charge a device from the USB port. You can connect over Bluetooth, of course, or use the 3.5mm jack for a wired connection. It's a shame to see no NFC at this price. The physical buttons are easy to use but there’s no playback control.

There's little stereo field but that’s not really the idea here. Instead, the unusual setup means there are drivers either side of the speaker so it doesn't matter which side you’re on in order to listen. The sound is even not bad when you're looking at the end. The sound is mostly bass and mids - even though there are two tweeters alongside two full-range drivers and two bass radiators - but will suit most people's taste.

•    B&O Play A1
•    B&O Beolit 15
•    B&O Play A6

Goodmans Heritage II Connect
  • RRP: £199
While the Heritage 2 is a digital radio for the home, it's a lot more than that. For starters it does a great job of looking like a modern device with retro stylish finished in natural walnut wood. And it comes in at under £200.

Having DAB radio is nice but the Heritage 2 also has plenty of other smart features including, of course, Bluetooth with the ability to pair with NFC (although the logo taints the top of the device somewhat). It also accepts auxiliary input via the 3.5mm jack, but more important is the built-in Wi-Fi. This means the speaker supports multi-room, internet radio and streaming via Spotify Connect or local PCs. A physical remote would be good but, you can control the Heritage 2 from your phone via the Undok app (we couldn't get it to work, possibly due to our office network).

With 20W RMS, the speaker isn’t the most powerful around but actually fills a reasonably big room nicely and can reach higher volume levels without major distortion. You do get a sense of stereo field when in the sweet spot. As you'd expect there's digital amplifier and digital sound processor and we found the drivers tuned nicely for a wide range of genres.

•    Goodmans Go

Riva Arena
The Riva ARENA is a small, stylish multi-room speaker that packs a punch.

First up, there’s a whole host of connectivity options: Once connected to your local Wi-Fi network, it offers support for Chromecast, AirPlay and DNLA alongside Bluetooth, USB (with support for high-res 24-bit audio) and auxiliary input. It can stream the likes of Pandora radio and Spotify thanks to the Wi-Fi connectivity, and you can charge your phone via the USB port too.

The Riva ARENA is also impressive in the speaker department: it boasts three ADX drivers and three passive radiators for a combined 50W of power and while it’s not quite a 360-degree speaker, they are present on three of the four sides. It also features ‘patented Trillium audio technology’ which Riva claims provides stereophonic sound from each speaker.

What does that mean in terms of sound quality? The Riva ARENA produces crisp, clear and punchy audio with decent levels of bass without overpowering the mid-range. It’s more than enough to produce room-filling audio without cranking the volume, but if you do turn it up it to max volume, you may find the sound becomes a little harsh.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless
The latest version of the Zeppelin is more expensive than most Bluetooth speakers but it's a great choice if you're looking for big sound and something of a statement piece for your home. Gone are the days of the arm with an Apple 30-pin connector, the new Zeppelin is as sleek as you like.

It's a shame that the remote control has also been ditched but the speaker is easy enough to control with the on-board buttons (which are slightly hidden away) or with the dedicated mobile and desktop apps. Not only does it have Bluetooth with aptX, the inclusion of Wi-Fi means you can stream music from Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music and AirPlay. There's even an Ethernet port if you need a stable connection. A 3.5mm jack is another input option while the USB port is just for service.

The Zeppelin is capable of filling even the largest rooms with sound with a total of 150W of power coming via five drivers - two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a subwoofer. The Zeppelin offers powerful and rich sound with excellent frequency response. It also has a bigger soundstage than a lot of wireless speakers.


Bose SoundLink Revolve
  • RRP: $199
The Bose SoundLink Revolve is one of the newest arrivals in the Bose collection, and is the first to boast 360-degree audio. It’s designed to be portable and is easy to carry around in a rucksack, and the splash-proof design means it won’t give up when it rains either.

It’s Bluetooth-enabled and can wirelessly pair with other SoundLink Revolves to provide stereo playback, and also offers a handy 3.5mm port in the rear for those not ready to go wire-free. As with many Bose products, it’s available in black or silver, and it should last around 12 hours per charge, although that varies depending on volume and other factors.

The headline feature of the SoundLink Revolve is of course the 360-degree audio – and it sounds amazing. It features an omnidirectional acoustic deflector and a transducer to pump audio out in all directions, and does a fantastic job at providing room-filling audio. The quality is what you’d expect from Bose; rich, warm, bright with exceptional clarity. 


JBL Xtreme
  • RRP: $299
If you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker to take to places like the beach or on holiday then the Xtreme from JBL is a good choice. It's fairly big and heavy but still portable and benefits from splashproof design and comes with a carry strap, too. You can choose from three colours.

Like many rivals you can plug devices in via the 3.5mm jack if you don't want to use Bluetooth and you can connect multiple speakers together with JBL Connect. The 10,000mAh battery will last up to 15 but you can even use it to charge devices via two USB ports. Big clicky buttons are easy to use and you can play, pause and skip tracks straight from the speaker which is pretty handy.

The JBL Xtreme offers a sense of stereo field if you sit directly in front which is surprising given it's size. It's got plenty of oomph and booming bass so is s good option for dance music and parties. You can even see the two bass radiators working away at either end should you like that kind of thing.

•    JBL Pulse 2

Cambridge Audio Yoyo M
Cambridge Audio’s new range of Yoyo wireless speakers combines style and solid sound quality to create an attractive proposition. They are available in a range of different sizes and are covered in NanoSphere treated cloth from Marton Mills.

We took a look at the Yoyo M speakers where M stand for medium. They’re a little bit like getting two Bluetooth speakers and creating a stereo pair from them. We had a few niggly issues with the setup and control but you’ll get used to it. It’s a nice advantage to be able to control things like volume from either speaker. You can also use fancy gestures for playback but they don’t always work.

There are plenty of features including aux input, USB charging and hands-free calls if you’ve connected a phone. Each has a battery so you can go completely wireless for up to 24 hours, but you can only use the Right speaker on its own. We’re pleased with the sound quality thanks to a full range driver and subwoofer inside each speaker. They’re not quite able to match the Ruark MR1, though.

Yoyo S
Yoyo L

Yamaha WX-010
  • RRP: $199.95
Yamaha's WX-010 speaker can be thought of as a Sonos Play:1 alternative at a cheaper price. The pint size device is available in black and white like it's rival but has Bluetooth connectivity alongside Wi-Fi which qualifies it for this chart. 

On its own, it can operate as a simple Bluetooth speaker and has touch sensitive controls on the top - these work fine but volume adjustment isn't very smooth. With the Wi-Fi element you can do a lot more.

There's a Yamaha MusicCast app that allows you do you things like stream internet radio and Spotify but also create a Sonos-esque multi-room setup if you have other Yamaha speakers that support MusicCast.

We're fairly impressed with the sound quality of the WX-010 which packs a decent punch for its small size. It's not up to the standard of the Play:1, though, with a slightly muddy sound at higher volumes and a more directly forward firing sound rather than all-around. 




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