Q: We have a Bose SoundLink Mini that we use with our iMac desktop computer. Recently the speaker has performed erratically, requiring lots of setting changes and turning it on and off. Last night it developed irritating static, which I was unable to cure. The unit is perhaps three years old, not heavily used and has never been outside or gotten wet.
Do these things wear out? Are repairs possible and worthwhile, or should I just replace it?
A: I've seen many portable products of different brands go bad with time and use, and repairing them rarely makes financial sense. What hurts in your case is you probably paid quite a bit for it.
Though it says Bose on it and is premium-priced, internally it probably isn't built any better than less-expensive Bluetooth speakers from other major manufacturers. Most serious audio enthusiasts don't consider Bose a high-end brand, and I think you can get the same or better quality for less money, or much better quality at the same price.
The OontZ line of portable Bluetooth speakers has typically been my go-to brand for products of this type, and as the line has expanded with new products and features it has become even easier to recommend. They sound good, look good and are extremely affordable. All of them work with your phone for hands-free speakerphone calling and have a miniplug input to use with your computer.
The $109.99 OontZ Angle 3XL is the closest speaker to what you have now. It has the same 4.5-star Amazon rating as your SoundLink Mini, but it can do much more. Since its introduction it has received refinements in drivers and tuning to improve sound quality, and it is powerful enough to fill a decent-sized room with sound. It can charge your phone or tablet like a power bank, connect with another Angle 3XL to make a stereo pair with wide-dispersion sound or connect to a TV with a miniplug cable and use Bluetooth to send the audio to a second 3XL located across the room.
At the other end of the spectrum is the OontZ Angle 3, which is tiny, IPX5 water-resistant and extremely lightweight. It sells for $27.99 and is Amazon's bestselling Bluetooth speaker, with over 11,000 reviews yielding a 4.5-star rating. It comes in two color choices, and a sturdy case is available for $10.
A new, midsize model, the OontZ Angle 3 Plus, has deeper, richer bass output than the Angle 3, is also IPX5 water-resistant and has 30 hours of battery life at 60 percent power. It is on sale for the holidays for $39.99. I like the Angle 3, but for $12 more, I would be inclined to get the Angle 3 Plus unless I was buying a large number of them as gifts and needed to keep cost down. See all three speakers at theoontz.com.
If you don't require battery power and are OK with a much larger speaker, you could consider the Fluance Fi50 Bluetooth (fluance.com). It has clean, simple styling and an attractive wood finish that reminds me of Scandinavian furniture, and its quality components produce warm, dynamic and extremely clear music.
I recently recommended the Fi50 to someone looking for a $300 system to play records. She added a $99 Audio-Technica AT-LP60 turntable connected by a miniplug cable to re-create her classic console stereo in a modern package. It's a phenomenal buy at $199.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.