Bose SoundLink III Review

Updated February 28, 2014
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Bose SoundLink III
Bottom Line

The Bose SoundLink III is an updated version of last year's SoundLink II, which got excellent reviews in nearly every computer publication. Although it's short on features, reviewers generally praise its warm, rich sound; attractive design; and long battery life. However, this last improvement comes with a major flaw: It's no longer possible to change the battery at home. Thus, this routine job will now require a $75 professional service.

Performance

Good overall sound, with some limitations. Both professional testers and owners say the SoundLink III produces room-filling sound, with plenty of bass. Professional reviewers note that Bose has "tweaked" the sound signature slightly from previous versions, tilting it more toward the low end. As a result, the overall tone is warmer and more appealing to the casual user. However, PCMag.com says "higher frequency sounds lose a bit of their edge" -- a slight problem for true audiophiles. Users say placing the speaker against a wall greatly improves its acoustic performance. Professionals and users alike are impressed by the Bose's 14-hour battery life, which is almost unmatched among portable wireless speakers.

ProsExcellent sound quality, Long battery life, Easy Bluetooth pairing, Attractive designConsFew features, Battery cannot be replaced by user

Ease of use

Few bells and whistles. CNET notes that this speaker doesn't offer much in the way of features. There are a few on-board buttons, and there's no remote control other than the phone itself. The SoundLink III also lacks near field communication, USB charging and speakerphone features found on the Sony SRS-BTX500 (Est. $300) . On the plus side, users say that it pairs very easily with Bluetooth devices. The biggest downside of the SoundLink III is that users cannot replace its rechargeable battery. When it wears down in about two years and will no longer hold a charge, this pricey wireless speaker will need professional service to stay portable, to the tune of about $75.

Design

Minimalist styling. A user at Amazon.com calls Bose "the Apple of Bluetooth speakers," saying its designs have "a minimalist, yet refined quality" combined with excellent craftsmanship. The SoundLink III carries on that tradition with its simple shape and wraparound metal grill. Where previous versions of the SoundLink had a slightly angled shape, this one is a basic rectangle: Nick Guy of iLounge.com considers the updated style more attractive than previous versions, but Will Greenwald of PCMag.com finds it "pedestrian." Although reviewers say the speaker is sturdy, they think you'll probably want the optional cover (Est. $35) if you plan to use it outdoors.

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Sony SRSBTX500 Portable NFC Bluetooth Wireless Premium Speaker System (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III, Will Greenwald, Feb. 20, 2014

PCMag.com names the Bose SoundLink III an Editors' Choice, with 4 stars out of a possible 5. Greenwald says it delivers "warm, full sound across a variety of music genres" and long battery life, but the highs are "slightly less crisp" than they were on its predecessor, the SoundLink II.

2. CNET

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III Review: The Lexus of Bluetooth Speakers, David Carnoy, Feb. 18, 2014

CNET gives the Bose SoundLink III 4 stars out of a possible 5. Editors say it delivers louder sound and much better battery life than the older SoundLink II. However, it's pricey and lacks a USB charger and a speakerphone feature.

3. iLounge.com

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III, Nick Guy, Feb. 19, 2014

Nick Guy of iLounge gives the Bose SoundLink III a grade of B. He finds it more attractive than older SoundLink models, but in a head-to-head test, its sound quality is no better than that of the Braven 850, a similarly priced competitor.

4. Amazon.com

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014

The Bose SoundLink III receives more than 50 reviews at Amazon.com, with ratings averaging 4.3 stars out of 5. Owners say the speaker looks good, sounds good and has great battery life, but many think it's not as good as the smaller and less expensive Bose SoundLink Mini (Est. $200).