One of the defining technologies of our time with definitely be Bluetooth, the wireless protocol that has connected computers and phones and tablets with one another, as well as speakers and keyboards and other peripherals.
According to the official organization behind it all, Bluetooth SIG, as of 2013, there were over 2.5 billion devices with Bluetooth… shipped each year. We can only imagine that those numbers have gone up significantly since 90% of all phones now include it.
Bluetooth has changed significantly though- it’s up to version 4.2, now, with the latest specification just finalized late last year.
Two of the biggest improvements have had a huge impact on one of the key categories: the portable Bluetooth speaker.
Battery life and audio quality both have seen major upgrades, and that’s definitely clear on one of the newest competitors, Riva, and their Turbo X Bluetooth Speaker.
Battery-powered but with more power than many plug-in models, the Riva X is definitely on the upper end of the spectrum. It’s bigger than most other ‘portables’, but the flip side is that it has better battery life as well- around 25 hours or more when fully charged!
Along with fairly typical additions, like a decent speakerphone and an auxiliary minijack input, there is also a USB power output so you can charge your devices if you need it. And you can charge via USB, or by plugging directly into an outlet.
The coolest feature by far, though, is their custom audio processing techniques, called Trillium Surround.
It’s a way to simulate surround sound, but unlike many systems that are forced to use only a couple of speakers, they’ve actually built in seven distinct drivers, four for bass alone, into the Riva Turbo X.
That’s probably a record number for a unit in this class, and it supports the high definition apt-X codec for better audio quality.
At 3.5 pounds, it’s not a speaker that you’re likely to throw into a purse, but feels solid and stable in the hand, or on any surface.
It’s dense enough that it won’t rattle much when playing even at louder volumes- and speaking of which, it’s the loudest Bluetooth speaker we can recall, thanks to a mode they call “Turbo EQ”, which boosts output greatly (though will drain your battery faster).
There’s even an optional custom app you can download (iOS or Android), which allows you control over EQ modes and an easy battery check.
The Riva Turbo X might not quite have the visual panache of the X-mini Clear that we checked out recently, but it’s still good-looking. Touch-sensitive controls are fair, well, sensitive, but the layout and backlight were nice.
One more unusual addition: voice prompts, which aren’t that rare by themselves, but with the Riva, you can actually turn them off and use tones instead.
It’s not truly weatherproof, no remote is included, and in this price range, we might’ve liked to see AirPlay support as well for use at home. But those are fairly minor points- overall, this is a great-sounding, easy-to-use Bluetooth speaker with incredible battery life and a unique feature set.
The Riva Turbo X is available now in either black or white, online, and in stores for around $350.