The market seems to be inundated with Bluetooth speakers, so much so that vendors are scrambling to find ways of differentiating their products to cater to specific audiences. One of those niches has been the waterproof, shockproof (aka ruggedized) Bluetooth speaker that can be used in extreme conditions.
If you want a wireless speaker near the pool, by the shower, or on a camping trip, you now have options. One of those options is the I-Venstar S406 Bluetooth Speaker, which retails for $99. I’ve been living with the S406 for the past month now. How does it fare as a ruggedized Bluetooth speaker? How does it sound? Let’s find out.
From a retail packaging standpoint, the S406 leaves a great first impression. The box is sturdy and well designed and has some heft to it, comparable to what you’d expect when purchasing a high-end electronic item.
Inside the S406 box is a micro USB charging cable, a small 3.5mm audio cable, a metal hook loop, a brief user pamphlet, and of course, the speaker unit itself. The S406 can support both a wired and Bluetooth connection, and also works with devices that support NFC (Near Field Communication).
While the out of box experience is a good one, there are plenty of grammatical and spelling errors in the pamphlet that detract from an otherwise excellent unboxing experience.
The speaker itself has a sturdy feel, and sits well in both horizontal or vertical positions. In other words, it’ll stay where you place it. The S406’s outer shell has a combination of both metal and silicone housing. The rubberized silicone shell is easy to grip and the metal speaker grille is durable.
The buttons on the top side of the unit are rubberized. The feel is a bit mushy for my taste, particularly with the power button, but it does provide tactile feedback when pressed. Also on the top is an LED indicator which turns blue when the device is powered on.
The S406 also comes with a small clip to affix the speaker onto something like a backpack, so you can carry it with you hands-free. It’s a nice touch, but I’ll never use it. another nice feature of the S406 is its ability to act as a surrogate charger, delivering 4400MAH to charge your phone or device as needed.
Pairing the I-Venstar S406 to the iPhone was simple. Turn on the S406 and activate the device in the iPhone’s Bluetooth setting. The S406 charges by way of USB, so plugging it into a computer or a dedicated USB hub is recommended. For my testing, I charged the S406 via the iClever 6-port USB travel wall charger.
Fair warning: I’m not an audiophile.
As a general purpose speaker the audio is much better than I expected. I tested the S406 with a few podcasts and the sound was uniformly clear and crisp. The audio quality has a surprisingly full sound and has only a slight bit of distortion when the source volume is fully cranked up. In general, when listening to music (classical, rock) the audio sounds a little thin, but it’s more than serviceable if you happen to have the S406 on while listening in the shower. (In my subjective mind, the bathroom tiles seem to do a pretty good job of amplifying the sound.)
In terms of range, the manual states that the S406 can be up to 30 feet away from the source, and my testing confirms that amount. If you prefer a wired connection (say to a computer), the S406 works as expected.
The S406 is waterproof. For my testing, I placed the S406 in the shower on an adjacent ledge (near the soap). While the S406 got its share of indirect water, there were no problems whatsoever with the unit. The S406 isn’t built for full water submergence (you’ve been warned), so placing it within the direct vicinity of a bubble bath probably isn’t a good idea.
The S406 takes about 4 hours to fully charge and has an estimated running time of about 10 hours on a single charge, with a standby time of about 90 hours or more. I have the S406 running background music via Bluetooth pairing throughout my workday, charging it only in the evening.
While the I-Venstar S406 retails for $99, you can find it on Amazon for around $37. At that price point, it’s definitely worth buying. It’s a solidly designed speaker that delivers good sound at a fair price. If you plan to use the S406 by the shower or on your desk, you really can’t go wrong with the I-Venstar S406.
The I-Venstar S406 Shockproof / Waterproof S406 Speaker earns 5 out of 5 Bob Weiners.