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Issue #741: October 3-9, 2021

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Q: I listen to Spotify on my iPhone throughout the day. Can you recommend a good Bluetooth speaker to purchase to connect to my iPhone? The fidelity would obviously improve my listening ability.

 I read your columns weekly and have learned much. This is not a question of high importance, but just wanted you to know there are fans and followers “out here” who want you to remain in the paper and also to let you know that you provide a great service to this area.

 – Katy A.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: It always makes me feel all warm inside when readers take the time to share some words of appreciation for the column along with their question, so thanks for that, Katy.  Many people often assume I work for the local newspaper here in Fort Walton Beach, the Northwest Florida Daily News.  That is, as they say “fake news.”  I am not now, nor have I ever been an employee of any newspaper.  I have, however, written over 740 freelance issues of It’s Geek To Me since it premiered in July 2007, and I’ve never been paid a single penny for it.  You might say that the column is my way of providing a public service.  But, it’s not just in this area.  Visit my website, and take a look at the “About It’s Geek To Me” link to get some idea of the column’s market presence over the years.  I’d be thrilled if it was picked up at the national level, but meanwhile, I’m happy it serves the readers that it reaches, including you.

But, that’s enough of the self-indulgent treacle.  You asked a question, and you deserve an answer. However, if you’ve been a reader for very long, you already know that I have a longstanding policy of not endorsing particular brands or products.  So, instead of making a specific recommendation, I’d prefer to give you some tips on how to make a selection on your own.

For this Geek’s money, your best solution is to ask the Internet.  Now, I wouldn’t make this recommendation without first trying it myself, so what I did was to hit Google, and enter “Best Bluetooth Speaker” to which Google suggested adding “2021” to the search.  I thought that was a good idea to ensure the search results wouldn’t be stale. Naturally, since this is the Internet, I got back a mere 191,000,000 hits.  But Google structures its hits with ad suggestions up front, followed by items that are the most popular, which often means you don’t need to go past the first page of results.

Some of the ad suggestions were quite pricey, including some that cost hundreds of dollars.  You didn’t specify a price range, but if I had to guess, I’d guess you don’t want to spend that much.  Google won’t be too happy to hear this, but I usually skip over the paid ads, and look for content from reviewers I trust.  In this case, there were reviews from CNET and PC Magazine right near the top.  Both of these are names that I trust to provide comprehensive independent reviews of tech products.

It will be totally up to you to decide what specifications are important to you.  Some things you might want to consider include cost, size, and battery life, not to mention dynamic range and general quality of sound reproduction. 

No matter how good of a job the reviewer does, it can be tough to judge some of these qualities just by reading about them.  You might prefer to visit a local store and hear them for yourself to help you make a choice.  Bluetooth speakers are so common these days, that many retailers carry them.  Short of giving them a free plug, I’ll just say that large electronics stores, and even big-box retailers carry them.  Consider doing your research online, then visiting a store for a live demo to help you to make your final decision.

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