By Aaron Lee
Killer Concepts' $79.99 RocksteadyXS portable Bluetooth speaker plays loud and long. It works with iPhones, iPads, iPods, Android devices, tablets, computers, and other players. It boasts 100 dB of sound and provides more than 10 hours of playback.
Bluetooth allows for easy pairing; there's no PIN to remember. The speaker also supports playback through an included 3.5mm cable, and MP3 files can be played through the speaker’s USB port. That's handy if, like me, you have an iPod Classic -- which doesn't support Bluetooth. The USB port also acts as a charger for phones, tablets and other devices.
The audio RocksteadyXS is solid. It won't replace your Bose speakers (and isn't meant to), but offers a good over-all listening experience for a product this small -- with, as noted, the ability to crank your tunes up.
The Rocksteady boasts proprietary air channels inside to augment the sound range and volume using patent-pending air channeling and membrane technology. The speakers point out the sides instead of facing the front. This allowed Killer Concepts to better compress the moving air inside the speaker case, providing louder, clearer sound. The RocksteadyXS is a stereo speaker so, to get the best audio, you should be in front of the speakers.
By the way, there's also a third speaker port. The air pressure created inside the unit is channeled through a passageway through specially designed membranes that are built to enhance the sound quality.
Before using your RocksteadyXS, you should fully charge it by using the micro-USB charger cable; a cable and wall charger are included. When the speaker is plugged in, the base will turn red. When it's fully charged (which takes about four hours to go from empty to full), the light will turn off.
Once it's charged, turn on the RocksteadyXS, then press and hold the MODE button for one full second. On your smartphone or tablet, turn Bluetooth on and "scan" for discoverable Bluetooth items to pair with. Choose RocksteadyXS in the list of pairable devices.
You can't pair the RocksteadyXS to more than one device at a time. If you've used it via Bluetooth with your iPhone, then want to use it wirelessly with your iPad, you'll have to re-pair it. The folks at Killer Concepts says they're planning multi-pairing in the future.
The Rocksteady has front-facing controls to move tracks up and down, play/pause your tunes and control your volume. These buttons control your Bluetooth device wirelessly in a bi-directional capacity. In other words, it can communication with your Bluetooth device as a speaker and an input device.
Its LED glowing bases provides feedback -- blue is on, flashing blue is in pairing mode, red is charging mode, purple is charging and on mode.
Finally, one of the cool features of the RocksteadyXS is that it's the industry’s first to provide a lithium-ion battery swap system. If/when your battery dies, it's easy to replace.
There are more expensive Bluetooth speakers. There are bigger ones with beefier audio. But this one offers decent sound and portability at this price point.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★