Published on September 24th, 2013 | by Greg
Sherwood’s EXM-50: Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker With FM Radio
It seems like an obvious addition, but it’s one left out of most Bluetooth speakers: radio! Does no one listen to FM anymore, outside of the car? We certainly do, whether it’s to catch NPR favorites like Car Talk or simply listen to breaking news or weather or traffic. Sure, the music stations may be mediocre for the most part, unless you can find a college radio beacon nearby, but there are still plenty of times we’d rather put down our smartphone and simply listen to something on the FM-band.
Which is why we liked the Sherwood EXM-50 and it’s interesting feature set, despite some fairly underwhelming specs. Also labeled EXCAPE Smart Audio, the website lists it as part of their docking product range despite not really being a dock. It is, however, a solid Bluetooth wireless speaker that attempts to tread the line between indoor and outdoor use. The Sherwood EXM-50 looks nice enough to sit on a kitchen counter or desk, but offers IPX-4 certification, meaning that you can safely use it outside without worrying too much about it getting rained on or wet near a pool. This model can be battery-powered, though includes an A/C adapter as well in the box.
It uses the Bluetooth 2.1 spec, which means typical range and no need to enter a PIN, plus easy pairing. The audio is also pretty standard for Bluetooth units- no apt-X lossless codec here. But that’s not really an issue for a unit this size and price, with only about 10 watts of power shared between the two stereo drivers. You shouldn’t expect much bass, nor much volume, but it’s definitely easier to carry around than most other units thanks to the built-in handle. Plus, it can be setup vertically or horizontally for use just about anywhere.
We took the EXM-50 out for a ride, and also have been using it on our desks at work. One nifty addition is the ability to play files from a USB thumb drive, though it can be a bit complicated to get working. We felt mixed about the use of AA batteries- they are easy to find, but worse for the environment than using rechargeables and it ends up weighing a fair bit with six of them inside (though it’s quite light without them). Battery life is decent- about six hours- allowing you nearly a full day of music without much worry. And, unlike most competitors, a remote is included so that you can easily switch between modes, or radio presets. Plus, there are both Android and iOS apps available for free that allow you to set aside the remote and handle most functions from your smartphone- even adjust the EQ, something that we rarely see on a Bluetooth speaker and always appreciate.
The Sherwood EXM-50 looks hard to find in the US, but just like the previously-reviewed Sherwood S9 Soundbar, is definitely worth seeking out. Though the site shows only a white model, our box indicated that a black one might be available as well. Exact pricing was unknown at press time, but we hope that Sherwood continues to push into the American market.