* Good sound quality
* Torchlight & FM Radio
* Retro design
If you’re a music lover, chances are pretty high that you have a portable speaker lying around. These little gizmos offer the convenience of listening to music, just about anytime and anywhere.
Portable speakers can be either wireless (Bluetooth-based) or wired and just like any other gadget, are available at different price points.
With near-countless options available in the market, a portable speaker has to offer something more than just good music playback functionality to get some attention. This is probably why Amkette’s recently-launched portable speaker – Pocket – includes quite a few handy extras, such as torchlight. But is it really worth spending Rs 1,399 on?
This is our full review of the Amkette Pocket portable speaker.
Design and build quality
Made of glossy plastic, the Pocket has a cuboid-shaped design. It’s fairly compact and, true to its name, can be easily slid into a deep pocket and carried around everywhere. The front has a Grey-coloured speaker grille, with an Amkette logo in the center. To its right, there’s a small LCD screen that can show everything from time to battery status. Below the LCD, there is a keypad with ten rubberized numbered keys (1-0), a mode selector key (marked with the alphabet ‘M’) and a Green-coloured Torch Key. The top-right corner of the speaker has a rotary dial that’s used for both switching the speaker On/Off and adjusting the output volume level. On its left, there are three more rubberized keys tied to Previous, Next and Play/Pause functions. These and the previously-mentioned numbered keys are backlit with a bright Blue colour and thus, can be used in the dark with zero effort.
Just behind the Previous, Next and Play/Pause keys is a small, retractable antenna. It normally sits in a horizontal position but can be easily pulled up and extended to almost three times its size.
The left side of Amkette Pocket has a hook (for attaching the included hand strap) and a single-LED torchlight. As for the right, it has all the connectivity ports. From top to bottom, these include a Mini USB port (for charging), a USB 2.0 port (for connecting flash drives) and a 3.5mm audio socket (for plugging-in headphones and earphones). At the bottom, there’s a microSD card slot.
Lastly, the back of the speaker has just a battery compartment (accessible via a slide-out cover) which holds a rechargeable, cylinder-shaped 1,800mAh battery.
All said, we found the Amkette Pocket to be solidly-constructed portable speaker. The pull-out antenna and a front resembling analog TVs of the past lend it a distinctively retro appearance.
As mentioned before, the Pocket is a lot more than just a portable speaker. It includes a built-in FM radio receiver with automatic channel search functionality, as well as the ability to directly play music files saved on USB flash drives and microSD cards.
To listen to FM radio, simply switch to FM mode (by pressing the ‘M’ key on the keypad) and then press the Play/Pause key up top. Once you do that, the speaker will automatically search for available channels and save them when found. Also, the number keys can be used to directly input a channel’s frequency and stations can be switched via the Previous/Next keys.
During our testing, we found the FM radio reception to be excellent. The speaker easily tunes in to the available stations, and the extendable antenna helps in the reception further.
Music playback from USB flash drives and microSD cards is a non-issue as well. All you need to do is plug-in the storage media, and the Pocket automatically starts playing the saved tracks in a sequential order. During music playback, the number keys can be used to directly enter a track’s number and jump to it, a feature we found to be extremely useful. The Previous/Next buttons make it incredibly easy to switch tracks and navigate folders on the storage media.
However, the best feature of Amkette Pocket has to be its ‘USB Speaker’ mode. Just hook up the speaker to your PC (via the included Mini USB cable), and it instantly becomes an external speaker. No drivers, no extra settings, nothing. Connect the portable speaker to a PC and you’re ready to roll. It’s that simple!
Coming to the actual audio performance, it was great (at least, for the price of the device!) during our test run. Sound output from the Pocket is easily loud enough to fill a small room, yet it doesn’t get distorted too much at higher volume levels. Bass and treble levels are adequate as well, lending to an overall balanced audio output. The speaker does face some issues separating the highs and lows, but for the price, they can be conveniently ignored. In short, audio performance of Amkette Pocket met our expectations.
The single-LED torchlight built into the speaker is perfectly bright for emergency situations and works well for what it is.
Amkette claims that the Pocket can work for up to 12 hours at a stretch on a single charge. Over the course of our usage, we managed to get around 8.5 hours of (somewhat intermittent) use from it. Definitely not bad!
If you consider it just a portable speaker, Amkette Pocket certainly isn’t the best of its kind out there. There are competing products that offer better sound quality for the same price. But if you factor in the useful extra features such as FM radio and torchlight, the Amkette Pocket, at an asking price of Rs 1,399/$22, is undoubtedly a value-for-money proposition.
Nonetheless, if you wouldn’t mind checking out some alternatives in the same price bracket, you can take a look at Philips’ BT50B and HP’s S6500, both of which come with nicer designs and Bluetooth capability for wireless music playback.