/>
X

Rocksteady XS 1.5 Bluetooth speaker adds speakerphone, keeps price less than $100

The folks at Killer Concepts just released an updated model of their solid Rocksteady XS portable Bluetooth speaker that includes a microphone. In addition, they improved the cables, charging time, and more.
rocksteady15xs1.jpg
1 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Rocksteady XS with Speakerphone retail package

I previously reviewed the Rocksteady XS speaker and found it to be one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers available for less than $100. The new Rocksteady XS with Speakerphone (1.5) was developed from customer feedback after the first model and offers several improvements while keeping it inexpensive.

Improvements over version 1

I liked the audio quality and volume, ability to change out the battery with a standard Nokia BL-5C model, and ability to charge up your mobile device in the first model. The only thing really missing compared to other portable speakers was the ability to use it as a speakerphone and connect via NFC. One of these was added to version 1.5, along with several more improvements.

You will find the following improvements in the RocksteadyXS 1.5 speaker:

  • Integrated mic for speakerphone functionality, including button to answer/hang up from the speaker directly.
  • Dual purpose USB: Play music stored on USB stick or charge up your device.
  • Connect up to 2 devices simultaneously with 4 paired devices stored in memory.
  • Battery charges faster and still lasts for over 10 hours of playback.
  • Higher quality and longer cables, USB and 3.5mm audio.
  • Default connection is now Bluetooth so Mode button doesn't have to be pressed for wireless connections.
  • Low battery warning notification when in Bluetooth mode.

As you can see the folks at Killer Concepts provide significant improvements in the Rocksteady XS 1.5 speaker over what we saw just a few months ago. The price remains the same at $99.99 as well.

Box contents and hardware design

You will find everything you need in the retail package, including the Rocksteady XS 1.5 speaker, Li-Ion battery (Nokia BL-5C), user manual, orange colored 1.2 meter 3.5mm audio cable, 1 meter USB cable and USB wall charger. As a fan of orange, I liked seeing the high quality audio cable in this color with a usable length.

The speaker itself feels just like the last model and that is a good thing. It has an all aluminum construction while feeling light in your hand. It has curved edges and corners with the battery compartment access serving as the stand that rests on a table.

The only physical difference you will see in this new model is the phone icon below the play/pause button that is used to answer and hang up calls. You cannot use the button to initiate a phone call, such as through a voice dialing application.

Performance and experiences

The Rocksteady XS with Speakerphone does not sound as good or last as long on a charge as the UE Boom speaker I recently tested, but that speaker is twice the price. When you look at the sub-$100 market, the RocksteadyXS sounds great and is my personal favorite available for such a reasonable price.

I was able to turn up the volume all the way and still enjoy music with very little distortion. There was not too much bass or treble and the music, various genres, sounded good. The speakerphone worked well, but I don't make a ton of calls anyway. It is a rather small speaker and with the aluminum construction it seems like it could take a beating and keep working.

rocksteady15xs2.jpg
2 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Opening up the retail package, accessories in side compartments

rocksteady15xs3.jpg
3 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Higher quality cables and a charger are included

rocksteady15xs4.jpg
4 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Note the phone icon under the play/pause button of the new model

rocksteady15xs5.jpg
5 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Lots of buttons to let you control music without your smartphone or tablet

rocksteady15xs6.jpg
6 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Same ports and button on the back of the speaker

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza
img-8825

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza

26 Photos
A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex
img-9792-2

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

22 Photos
Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
shutterstock-1024665187.jpg

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos
Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup
Asian woman working at a desk in front of a computer and calculator

Related Galleries

Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup

8 Photos
Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup
Person seated at a booth in a cafe looks at their phone and laptop.

Related Galleries

Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup

10 Photos
Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida
ca3b4019-26c5-4ce0-a844-5aac39e2c34b.jpg

Related Galleries

Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida

16 Photos