There are so many good portable speakers on the market that picking a winner was quite a task. (A fun one, but a task all the same.) Most major audio brands offer solid, under-$250 entries, and we spent weeks putting them through their paces, courtesy of our friends MØ, Harry Styles, Louis Prima, Blossom Dearie and Wu-Tang Clan.
An early favorite was the Bose Soundlink II ($129), which delivers a big, bass-y sound, but it’s being discontinued to make way for Bose's new $199 SoundRevolve, which doesn't quite match the richness of the Soundlink. We also liked the muscular, party-friendly Beats Pill, Libratone TOO, and the Sony SRS XB40, which has flashing LEDs to get the party started. But none of them felt elevated enough for a style-focused list.
BUY: B&O Beoplay P2, $169; amazon.com
And so it was that the speaker that really stole our hearts was the new B&O Beoplay P2: beautiful, chic, small enough to fit into a clutch, but big enough to fill a room. B&O, the millennial arm of audio giant Bang & Olufsen, is positioning the P2 as the speaker you don't want to leave home without. Rounded edges, a pearly anodized aluminum grill and a soft polymer underside really do make it hard to put down.
Generally speaking, the smaller they are, the tinnier-sounding speakers get, and the best ones easily weigh a pound or more. This one clocks in at under 10 ounces, while sacrificing none of the sound.
In a field dominated by a man-cave sensibility, it's not surprising that the P2 was designed by Cecilie Manz, a leading Danish industrial designer. Kudos to her for imparting the P2 with something a spec sheet can’t convey: the pleasure of owning something whose form and function are both so deeply considered.
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Wins for: Style, sound, tactility, ease of use
- One button controls power and synching
- Body size is roughly 5" x 3" x 1"
- Leather strap for hanging or carrying
- Comes in black, blue and sand
- Splash and dust resistant
- Beoplay app features alarm and sleep modes
See the rest of InStyle's 2017 Best of Tech picks here.