Best $100 Dollar Speaker Mid 2017 Edition

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JBL Flip 4 Sony XB20 UE WONDERBOOM Altec Mini Lifejacket 2

So you're looking for a small portable $100 wireless speaker, which should you get? Theres JBL, Sony, UE, Altec, and Aquaphonics just to name a few. With so many companies fighting for your dollar there has to be one thats the best right? So thats what we’re going to find out right now. Which speaker is right for you? Lets find out. don't forget to like comment and subscribe. 

So all of the speakers we’re looking at today usually retail for around $100. Today we’re looking at the JBL Flip 4, Sony XB20, UE WONDERBOOM, and the Altec Mini Lifejacket 2. At the time of this recording the UE WONDERBOOM is actually on sale for $79.99 so you might want to check the link below before its too late. All of these speakers come in various color ways, so theres bound to be one that you might like. If you want to pick either of these speakers up i’ll have links in the description below and i’ll keep them updated so you can get the best deal possible. 

Size wise these speakers are pretty similar, the JBL Flip 4, Sony XB20, and Altec Mini Lifejacket all have a rectangle shape to them, But the Sony XB20 is the biggest of the bunch. The UE Wonderboom on the other hand is more of a pod like design. Concerning weight, the Sony XB20 is the heaviest at around 600 grams while the flip 4 is right behind at 515 grams. And The Altec mini lifejacket is the lightest of the bunch. 

JBL Flip 4

Concerning construction, the JBL Flip 4 and UE Wonderboom both have nylon weave outers and they are pretty durable. The nylon weave outers can take almost everything you throw at it. They also have soft touch rubber on the ends which give them a premium feel and give them a good amount of grip so they stay in place when you place them on a table and the bass gets going. The Sony XB20 also has a soft touch rubber body but has a painted metal grill on the front which makes it look more expensive than it really it. The Altec mini lifejacket is the most radical looking one of the group. it also has a grill on the front like the sony XB20 but its made out of plastic. Theres also two layers of rubber encasing the plastic body, when ever i look at the Altec i just think about a Humvee. But like Altec says its everything proof. All of these speakers have a rubber comet on the back that houses a micro USB port for charging and an AUX Jack from the elements. Well, except the UE Wonderboom, the wonder boom only has a micro usb port… no aux jack. 

all of these speakers have buttons on them, some more than others. the Altec only has 3 buttons but you can adjust your volume, play or pause your music, skip a track or go back a track,  answer and end calls, and if you double press the power button you’ll redial your last phone call. honestly I really wish you could change what double pressing the power button does. The UE Wonderboom has two big buttons on the front for adjusting your volume and you really have to give them a hard press to get them to work. Theres also three more buttons on the top. the bottom one is your power button, the UE logo is also a button, press it once it'll play or pause your music and if you double press it it'll skip a track, unfortunately you cant go back a track which kind of sucks. The Sony XB20 also has a few buttons on the top and you can do everything the Altec can do, except you can also activate siri by pressing the phone icon. And the JBL Flip 4 also has a few control buttons but also suffers the same set back as the UE Wonderboom, you cant go back a track, but if you press and hold the triangle button you can active siri. 

Sony XB20
UE Wonderboom Red

Concerning Connectivity and battery life, the JBL Flip 4, Sony XB20, and UE Wonderboom are all using bluetooth 4.2. so this means they can all be paired to multiple devices at one time so switching between your phone and laptop is super easy. But the range between these 3 speakers is different. The Sony XB20 has the shortest range at just 40 feet, while the Flip 4 and the Wonderboom both have a range of around 100 feet. And these 3 speakers can be paired to other speakers of the same make. 

The Altec Mini LIfekjacket 2 that i have hereonly has a range of 30 feet, but if you were to get the Altec Mini Lifejacket 3 you should get a range of around 100 feet. When it comes to battery life on the Lifejacket 2 with real world use i get around 7 or 8 hours. If you were to get the Lifejacket 3 then battery life should be doubled. 

The UE Wonerboom should be good for around 9 hours of playback, but if you listen to music with the volume cranked all the way then the battery life with significantly decrease down to around 6 hours. The Sony XB20 with the light feature turned on and the volume set at around 70% gets a battery life of around 9 hours. And the JBL Flip 4 is the over achiever in the group with a real world battery life of around 14 hours even though it advertises 12 hours. Hand down the JBL Flip 4 has the best battery life period. And all of these speakers charge via a micro USB Cable so you don't have to worry about any proprietary cables. 

also, checking your battery status on the Flip 4 is very easy thanks to the fuel gauge on the back. in order to check your battery status on the Sony XB20 you have to press and hold the phone button and it'll verbally tell you a percentage. to check your battery life on the UE Wonderboom you have to double press the plus and minus button at the same time and it’ll play 1 of 3 tones… loud tone means full battery, medium tone means half battery and low tone means low battery, its not the best system… and I'm still trying to figure out how to check the battery status on the Altec i guess the indicator light flashes red when the battery is low. 

UE Wonderboom Color Line Up

All of these speakers are also not afraid of a little water. either of these speakers can get a little wet without any issues. The Sony XB20 is IPX 5 certified while the JBL Flip 4 and UE Wodnerboom are both IPX 7 certified and the Altec Mini LifeJacket 2 is IP 67 certified. basically either the Flip 4, UE Wonderboom or Altec can be submerged underwater while the Sony can't. also its worth noting the Wonderboom and Aletc float while the flip 4 doesn’t. so if either of these speakers were to make their way to the deep end of a pool or lake you're going to have to go diving for the Flip 4. And the IP 67 rating on the Altec means its not just water proof, it also dirt and sand proof. 

The most important thing about a speaker is the sound quality, and all of these speakers sound very different. So I'm going to go from worst to best. The worst sounding speaker in this group is the Altec mini Lifejacket 2. The sound stage is narrow, the highs are extremely tinny and it hurts some times and this speaker suffers from the worst sound distortion in the group when the volume is high. but it has a lot of bass so thats nice…

The UE Wonderboom is the only speaker here with 360 degree sound. But the sound quality is very shallow and theres this constant raspyness or tininess when ever its playing music. theres a good amount of bass to the speaker, but the mid and highs get blown out constantly. whenever you listen to this speaker it leaves you wanting more. 

The JBL Flip 4 only shoots music out through the front, and it sounds really good. there are passive radiators on either side of the device that produce really strong and clean bass. instrument separation on the Flip 4 is really good and the Mids and highs are very clear. theres very little tinning and the highs rarely cause any discomfort. 

like i said in my JBL flip 4 vs sony xb20 video the sony xb20 sounds just ever so slightly better than the flip 4. Even though the XB20 has an extra bass feature, its has a little less bass than the Flip 4, but the Sony XB20 has this depth to its soundwhich helps put you in the center of the music. the sony XB20 also suffers from the least sound amount of distortion when the volume is set all the way up, but the JBL Flip 4 does get a little louder. 

All of these speakers have an X Factor that make them special. The Sony XB20 has a light up feature on the front that flashes to the beat of your music, but you do sacrifice battery life. but you can also turn it off. As mentioned before, the UE Wonderboom has 360 sound and it the smallest of the group. The Altec Mini Life Jacket is perhaps the most rugged of the group and the theres a mount so you can attach it to your bike and have music while you ride. But don't be fooled, the JBL Flip 4 and UE Wonderboom can both take a beating as well. And the JBL Flip 4 has the best battery life in the group.  

JBL Flip 4 Red

So which is the best speaker? Well unless you're going to be running over your speaker with a dump truck the Altec Mini Lifejacket 2 comes in dead last in this comparison. Unless you're looking for a speaker you can mount on your bike. The UE Wonderboom is good if you're looking for a 360 degree speaker but the battery life is so so and sound quality isn't the best. its a very close call for first place here cause over all the Flip 4 is the best preforming speaker here but the Sony XB20 just sounds slightly better. But since battery life isn't as good and since the XB20 isn't as durable, the JBL Flip 4 is the best speaker. So the standing here is JBL Flip 4 in first place, a very close second for the Sony XB20, third goes to the UE WONDERBOOM, and the Altec gets a participation award.