EASY LISTENING

The six best wireless speakers on the market.

By Sam Grobart

PHOTOGRAPHS BY VICTOR PRADO FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

Beats by Dr. Dre Pill

Price: $200 Battery life: 7 hours

Cute and colorful, the Pill is a handheld-size Bluetooth speaker with volume controls and a speakerphone mode. The Pill easily syncs with your phone, tablet, or PC, and adds even more convenience by incorporating near field communication. Owners of smartphones that are NFC-capable, such as higher-end Androids, can sync them with the Pill by simply touching the phone to it.

Sonos Play:3

Price: $299 Battery life: Plug-in only

Not only a wireless speaker, Sonos is a music-management and distribution system that includes hardware and software. The lunchbox-size Play:3 adjusts its output depending on whether it’s flat or sideways. All Sonos products work on a proprietary wireless network. The instructions are clearly written and not altogether hard, but it does require more effort than a Bluetooth setup.

Jawbone Big Jambox

Price: $300 Battery life: 15 hours

The Big Jambox is large, loud, and capable. The setup remains simple, but the increased size and number of speakers inside the box make for a much bigger sound, and the jumbo rechargeable batteries last as long as 15 hours. In addition to onboard volume controls, the Big Jambox features buttons for skipping backward and forward through tracks, which means you can change the song even if your phone or laptop isn’t nearby.

Bose SoundLink II

Price: $300-$350 Battery life: 8 hours

Bose’s wireless speaker is the size and shape of a hardcover book. As far as absolute sonic quality is concerned, the Bose is a better speaker than the Jambox, but it doesn’t let you advance or repeat tracks and has only an 8-hour battery life. It comes in a regular version with a nylon front cover for $300; or if you want to splash out, you can spend $350 and get a fancy leather cover.

Jawbone Jambox

Price: $180 Battery life: 10 hours

A little smaller than a four-pack of butter, the Jambox is great for small rooms or travel. Pair it with your phone, PC, or tablet via Bluetooth, and any audio coming from your device is played through its speaker. The Jambox also works as a speakerphone for a smartphone, allowing you to pick up and hang up calls directly. The rechargeable battery alerts you when it’s running low.

Sonos Play:5

Price: $399 Battery life: Plug-in only

The Play:5 can fill a larger room on its own, and the speaker is controlled by a Sonos App you install onto your PC or smartphone. The Sonos system can do neat tricks like send different songs to different speakers, so you can enjoy one track while your kids listen to something else. The App’s interface is not always the most intuitive, but if you’re serious about wireless audio in your home, Sonos is hard to beat.

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