Portable wireless audio solutions are hot right now. We're seeing an explosion of various speaker and headphone solutions to improve upon the audio kit built into our phones, tablets, and computers. Utilizing Bluetooth as the wireless interface also helps insure that these solutions can move between our various gadgets, and that we don't have to stay tethered to clunky bricks for our audio activities.
Outdoor Tech is a quirky company building a solid reputation for adding a little ruggedness to our portable audio gear. They've recently refreshed their Turtle Shell speaker, now on version 2.0. In a market where many companies are trying to replicate the rectangular and minimal look of the popular JamBox, the distinctive angles and colors of the Turtle Shell are a refreshing change of pace.
Turtle Shell can connect over Bluetooth or 3.5mm Headphone Jack, and the battery on board should allow for up to 16 hours of playback. I ran Turtle Shell through 8 solid hours of audio at a recent outdoor gathering of friends and still had plenty of battery life to spare.
Turtle Shell features the handy trick of being water resistant. Outdoor Tech cautions against fully submerging your Shell, but it easily shrugged off an entire water bottle being dumped directly into the speaker chambers (see related video). That speaker chamber uses two smaller speakers, similar to a JamBox, but points them vertically for a more omni-directional listening experience.
Outdoor Tech estimates 90dB of playback volume, which they say is "louder than a bear's roar". We didn't have any bears around to test this claim, but Turtle Shell is one of the louder portable speakers we've tested. Sound quality is good though the smaller speakers mean less bass than a single larger driver solution like the one found on the Nokia Play 360. Surprisingly, for a rugged gadget, audio quality is very good. There's noticeable distortion at max volume, but you wont often need to drive the Shell that loud (see related video for a full audio playback test).
Turtle Shell also features a standard sized tripod thread mount, allowing you to bolt a Shell onto a bicycle or mount it wherever you'd want to install wireless audio playback.
A street price of $130 might price it out of consideration for some consumers, but it's a unique listening experience, solid playback, attractive and versatile design, and its rugged build quality makes it equally as capable at home as it is outdoors for you hiking and camping types.
Check out the related video for a full hands on and audio quality test of Outdoor Tech's Turtle Shell 2.0!