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Touch and Go

Near-field communication,popularly referred to as NFC,is an exciting technology.

Written by Pranay Parab | New Delhi |
June 2, 2013 8:12:52 pm

NFC speakers try to hit the sweet spot between portability and sound quality

Near-field communication,popularly referred to as NFC,is an exciting technology. If you have used a Delhi Metro card to enter a station,you’re already familiar with how it works. Just bring an NFC-enabled smartphone close to another NFC-enabled source and certain preset functions will work automatically.

Most phones released this year have an NFC chip,so if you take them close to an NFC-enabled speaker,the speaker will start playing music from the phone. Last year,we reviewed the Nokia Play 360,an NFC speaker that had great sound quality and a two-day battery life,but was not loud enough to be audible in noisy environments. This year,Nokia has tied up with JBL to launch PlayUp,while Sony has launched its own range of NFC speakers.

Sony SRS BTV5

After the launch of this year’s Xperia range of smartphones and tablets,Sony introduced NFC speakers in the Indian market. At Rs 3,990,the BTV5 is the cheapest version. The speaker is smaller than a cricket ball and weighs just 136g. If you’re looking for a speaker you can carry around all the time,the BTV5 is a good choice.

The power button is at the bottom of the speaker and users will need to pull it to the right and hold it till the blue light starts blinking. The NFC pairing isn’t quite simple. You need to download an Android app called NFC Easy Connect and run the app every time you want to pair the phone with the BTV5. This also means that NFC won’t work with non-Android phones.

The speaker is too small to produce great sound quality,but is good enough if you would like to hear music while working on your laptop. Sound reproduction is average and it doesn’t handle bass well. If your collection has a lot of vocal songs,the BTV5 is a good choice. It also doubles up as a speakerphone and lets you receive calls but don’t expect great performance in a noisy environment.

JBL PlayUp

In line with Nokia’s colourful Lumia phones,the JBL PlayUp is available in all Lumia colours. The speaker is 12 cm tall and,at 760g,is portable but heavy. The speaker grill on top has the volume buttons and the battery indicator and there is a vent at the back for the woofer.

Just like the Play 360,JBL PlayUp has a Bluetooth button in the front,with a ring that lights up when the device is powered on. The connection process is simple. If your phone supports NFC,just take it close to the speaker and you’ll see a blinking blue light (even when the speaker is off). Once connected,you’ll hear a sound and the light will stop blinking. Remember that its NFC connection works best with Nokia phones and may not work well with other smartphones.

For non-NFC phones or those that can’t connect to PlayUp via NFC,just press and hold the Bluetooth button till the light starts blinking. The PlayUp will now appear in the list of Bluetooth devices on your phone and you can just wirelessly pair both of them to connect.

The sound quality on the PlayUp is very good for a portable speaker but bass lovers will be disappointed because it lacks depth. There were no distortions when was at maximum,even with high-pitch vocals or heavy instrumental music. The battery life was impressive. Nokia rates it at 10 hours and it lasted about 9 hours 45 minutes on a single charge. Overall,the JBL PlayUp is a good product,but the price is steep at Rs 11,999.

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