There is not much I dislike about my new Surface RT from Microsoft. But one thing that has bugged me almost since the unboxing has been weak audio output, at least IMHO. I didn’t expect some kind of high quality surround sound, but I would have expected the Surface to be as loud as my L900, or maybe even my HTC Surround, with it’s slide out speaker (hey, I can dream). It isn’t. Don’t believe it to be a defect, as there has been minimal chatter on the subject. But I can (or can’t) hear what I hear. Most disappointing is showing off the Surface to curious iApple fans only to have them strain to hear a video playing at max volume.
My first attempt at solving the problem was technically sound, but aesthetically it just didn’t work.
The second try appears to have pegged it. The Jensen Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Speaker will never be confused with something like a Bose Sound Dock. But this little bugger packs a powerful punch. Measuring 5.6” x 2.2” x 1.2”, and weighing just over 7oz, it’s portable enough to travel anywhere. It has a built-in, rechargeable 1,000mAh battery, which can be re-energized via any USB port. Although they do recommend using a 1,000mA/1A charger for optional performance. How long will a charge last? Well, I have been streaming XBox Music through my Surface for the past three days (3 hours, 4 hours, 3 hours), and after 10 hours no indication it is close to giving up. I promise to update this post when (if) it ever putters out. UPDATE: The battery finally gave up after a little over 20 hours of playing music at med-high volume. Not bad for a first charge. Note that when thelow battery warning kicks in you don’t have much time. The Surface also worked admirably, providing 10 hours of WiFi streamed music, with the screen on about a third of the time. With 15% remaining it will get a well deserved charge tonight.
The package includes; the BT speaker, 1 – USB charging cable, 1 – 3.5mm cord (to plug in a non-BT device), storage pouch and instruction manual. Pairing works easy enough. Power on the Jensen, press and hold the BT button for 7 seconds until it begins to flash blue/red. A few seconds later the Surface detected the pairing and I was ready to go. I was a little disappointed that the speaker does not have a 1 button power/BT on, say like BT headphones. I guess that has something to do with it also being able to push out music with BT turned off (with the 3.5mm plug). After initial pairing, power up and press the BT button for 5 seconds till you hear a beep. A few seconds later it will detect your device and music will start playing. To turn BT off, press and hold the BT button for 3 seconds till you hear the beep. It’s better to disengage BT, either by turning off the Surface or turning BT off on the speaker, rather than simply powering the speaker off. I did that once and had to manually reconnect the Surface. But I am 12 for 12 since then.
In addition to the power and BT buttons, there are also Volume +/- buttons on the top of the unit. With the Surface at max volume, the Jensen only needs to be at about 40-50% to hear clearly from across the room, or about 25% for normal listening. Maxed out, you will get some distortion, but the neighbors won’t be straining to hear what’s playing. I am keeping the Surface at 70% with the Jensen at around 50%, which provides a room filling, confortable sound.
Not convinced. They say a picture tells a thousand words. Well how about 2.310,000 words. Watch the short video below.
Comparing the Microsoft Surface speakers to the Jensen BT Portable Stereo Speaker
Btw, I also paired the Jensen with my Lumia 900 and it worked equally as well. Making it a versatile, multi-use device. Update: In my haste I forgot to mention that the Jensen BT Speaker also comes with a built-in microphone, so you can use it as a speakerphone. That won’t work too well on the Surface, but I suppose it could come in handy when using Skype. I picked mine up at Amazon for $50.48, although you may find a better deal elsewhere. Knowing the size of phone speakers, I am pretty certain the Surface speakers can handle a little more volume. Hopefully, Microsoft can tweak a driver or two so the Jensen becomes an option, not a necessity.