Pros: Stylish design; Extremely portable; Bluetooth and hands-free calling
Cons: Performance could be better; Controls can be awkward
Bottomline: The B-Tube under-performs, both in terms of audio quality and hands-free calling, though it does offer appeal in its portability and design
Vista compatibility: Yes
But it online at:
The Linx B-Tube is yet another device among the rapidly expanding number of portable speakers available, with a choice of a sleek black or silver finish.
It’s fairly compact, with a tube design that’s about an inch in diameter and 6in in length. At each end of the device there are cones for the two built-in stereo speakers, and two twistable discs that allow the user to adjust the volume and play and pause music.
The B-Tube also offers wireless operation through Bluetooth 2, and thanks to the built-in microphone can be used for hands-free calling. These functions are also controlled by the switches at each end, allowing for this feature-packed speaker to have a relatively minimalist design.
Pairing with a Bluetooth source such as a phone, handheld computer or notebook was straightforward, and once it has been paired for the first time the settings are stored in the B-Tube's memory.
Sound quality is reasonable without being outstanding: it’s quite loud for its size but distorted a fair bit at high volumes, and even at lower settings there was a faint but distinct crackle behind the music. When connected for wired operation, using the input socket, things improved slightly but not as much as we’d hoped.
When using hands-free calling – something products such as this rarely get completely right – there was a distinct echo from the receiving end and a delay of around 0.5 seconds for the caller. While clarity was reasonable it was a struggle to have a proper conversation, and we can't see many people lasting more than a couple of minutes on the Bluetooth connection before disconnecting their phone and using it manually.
While the B-Tube works, its performance doesn’t excel and it isn’t particularly easy to use since the user needs two hands to adjust the controls on the player. There’s novelty value, it's true, and there are compromises to be made of style over performance. Ultimately, though, it seems a lot of money in comparison with cheaper, less good-looking alternatives.