A Great Little Speaker for the Outdoors, The Avantree SP850

It’s hard to see the forest through the trees when it comes to the portable speakers, but despite it’s small size the Avantree SP850 has everything you need in a Bluetooth speaker, including FM radio and SD card.

Labelled as a 3 in 1, the Avantree SP850 is more like a 4 in 1: a Bluetooth speaker, that also has an aux in, an FM radio and a SD card reader for audio files.

The market is saturated with Bluetooth speakers with many that sound good at a decent price. However, they often lack very little imagination. They are usually big, booming, bulky boxes with lights, that have either Bluetooth or a card reader to play music files. However, the Avantree SP850 is a little different. It’s more like a small lightweight radio, with all the bells and whistles in a small package.

My first impression after picking up the Avantree SP850 from Canada Computers for a whopping $24.99 CAD, was how small and light it was at only 0.16 kgs and only 13 cm X 6.6 cm X 3.2 cm in dimension. I liked the inclusion of a volume knob on the side (that doubles as its ‘On’ switch), for quickly adjusting the volume. I hate non-responsive volume buttons on Bluetooth speakers, or worse, hyper sensitive ones. That being said, the volume on the SP850 is not that gradual and gets pretty loud from the onset. However, the sound is incredible. Big sound for such a small speaker, which is due to the combination of bass woofer on the back and tweeter on the front giving you a more dynamic sound.

On the front, you have most of your controls for selecting the playing mode (Bluetooth, aux, radio or sd card) and the play, rewind and fast forward buttons for controlling the radio or navigating your Micro SD card. The inclusion of a simple black and white illuminated digital screen is helpful for navigating the different modes and their functions and includes all relevant info (e.g. battery life). The menu system was very intuitive.

This knob likes volume knobs.

On the side of the SP850, it includes a 1/8″ (3.5mm) headphone out jack and a 1/8″ (3.5mm) aux in that you can connect to an media device (e.g. mp3 player) for a direct analog connection. I almost prefer using the aux in, if its available instead of using Bluetooth, that way you don’t burn through the battery on both devices. The micro usb port, used for charging the device, is also located on the side. A Micro USB to USB cord, plus a 1/8″ cord for the aux in, is also included.

Next , the SP850’s Micro SD card reader is oddly located in the bottom and can use cards up to 64gb. It reads MP3, WMA, WAV files and using the screen you can navigate folders on your micro SD card. The screen is only 13 letters/characters wide (something to consider when naming files) but scrolls so you will see everything.

Finally, not many Bluetooth speakers feature an FM radio. I know, who needs radio especially when you have Cottage Mixtape Mixes, but radio can be useful specially when your out camping or cottaging. Its great for getting local weather and news, if you don’t have a signal or phone handy, or if your are sick of picking music (you never know what you will hear on local stations).

The radio conveniently has a scan function to search for all the radio stations available. So you get to camp, scan for signals and now the stations can be skipped through with the rewind / fast forward buttons. The SP850 has no protracting antenna unfortunately but to get an optimal signal, you can attach an aux cord in the input or connect a usb cord to its outlet and it will enhance your radio reception. Looking for a particular station? Just punch in the numbers at the top (eg. 93.5 type 9-3-5).

Not robust in size or price but in sound and features.

Another great feature is the SP850 has, not only rechargeable ION battery, but it is replaceable making it a little more future proof. Avantree lists it as having between 6 to 10 hours of battery life, and I think the truth lies somewhere in between depending on the play mode. For me it lasted for 2 days of on/off use. It charged very quickly off of a battery pack once it ran out.

It also includes a strap that you can wrap around your wrist for easy totting. In case you have a beer in one hand and beer in the other. It is so lightweight, that while wearing it around my wrist, I almost forgot it was there.

I have owned and used many Bluetooth speakers but I think my newly acquired Avantree SP850 might be my favourite. This is because of the SP850’s simple design with little attentions to detail. It was released in 2016, and is maybe in need of a little update, but the other newer Bluetooth speakers at Avantree do not offer the SD card reader. Which for me, the SD card reader would get the most use. It isn’t as rugged built as some of the other Bluetooth speakers meant for rougher, outdoor use but it is solid. For its small size and price, plus its big sound and all these options, it’s like the swiss army knife of portable speakers.

Avantree SP850 Bluetooth Speaker Conclusion

Pros

  • great sounding speaker with a surprising amount of volume.
  • features Bluetooth, SD card reader, aux in and programable FM radio.
  • light-weight: great for portages, picnics, great outdoors, etc.
  • rechargeable replaceable ion battery
  • volume knob, for quick volume adjustment

Cons

  • not terribly stable, narrow and light, tends to fall over.
  • volume could be more gradual as it gets pretty loud from the onset
  • not a battery bank (cannot be used to charge devices)
  • not water proof or water resistant.
  • not as rugged as some other MP3 players.
  • For around $39.99 CAD (I got mine for $24.99) not many cons.

Make sure to add the latest Cottage Mixtape to your speaker:

cottagemixtape.com

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