September 2, 2014

BRAVEN 855s Bluetooth weather-resistant speaker review

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We’ve reviewed a number of speakers and headphones over the years, some wireless, some portable, and some weather resistant. Up for review today is the premium-grade Braven 855s Bluetooth weather-resistant speaker.

As one of the newest models in their product line, this one is a mean and rugged speaker designed to take a beating. It’s a shame, though, because it’s too pretty and classy looking to scuff it up. This guy looks great in any environment – the office, your night stand, on the beach, or in a field.

Indeed, the price point is the first thing that you’ll likely look at; it often is for us as well. Most of us start with a budget in mind of have a certain point that we consider a cut-off before we won’t buy a product. Getting this right out of the way, the Braven 855s runs $299 everywhere you look, even Amazon.

Now, before you run complaining that you’d never spend this kind of money for a portable speaker, please read on. Also, do consider that you’re not buying into a contract and that this guy will likely outlast your next two smartphones.

855s-rightMeasuring less than 10 inches long and almost 4 inches tall, the Braven 855S will surprise you with just how loud and clearly it projects sound. And when we go loud, we stay just as clear. While we’ve tested this with multiple smartphones or tablets, we eventually moved this into the office and paired it with the Chromebox. Yep – we put away the three piece speakers that we previously used and replaced it with something better looking and better sounding.

Made from “aircraft-grade aluminum” and wrapped in a coating of rugged, waterproof gel, the speaker wants to go outside and play in the rain. It’s the sort of unit that belongs on your back deck, blasting your playlists and entertaining guests.  Planning on taking that party well into the early morning hours? No sweat, the Braven 855S boast 20 hours of playback. In our few weeks with the speaker we found that we rarely had to charge up.

The side of the speaker has a cover that protects the plus and ports. It’s here where you’ll find the 3.5mm input, battery indicator lights, and USB out. Why an output? Because you can actually power your phone or device off of the speaker whenever you’re plugged in. Consider that a daisy-chain experience of sorts. Along those lines, you can also wirelessly connect multiple Braven speakers together for a two-channel audio experience. The battery indicator lights are a nice touch in that there are five of them; easily identify whether you have 40% juice or 80% left over.

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Across the top of the speaker you will find the standard power and volume buttons as well as one for playing audio and taking phone calls. We were really impressed that we were able to take calls on this at very loud and clear levels. The same goes for playing music through Google Play and our other apps – it’s rich in sound and the clarity is right where we wanted it.

At $300, the BRAVEN 855s is quite an investment. But, because of the fact that it’s water resistant, offers 20 hours of playback per charge, and lets us take calls, we were forgiving.

The Braven 855S looks like it belongs in a military vehicle or on a desert island TV show it’s that sharp and well-designed. The overall look and feel of the speaker just oozes quality and the weight tells you it’s legit stuff. No, you won’t take this everywhere you go, but the places it does end up will be better for its presence.

Learn more about the 855S and other products at Braven’s website.