This site is best viewed in landscape mode.
Rotate your device to start reading.

tech
by: Craig Wilson   ·    9 May 2017

B&O Beoplay P2: Pint-sized punch-packer

Portable Bluetooth speakers are big business, and B&O’s latest foray into the segment offers big sound in a tiny package.

Once the exclusive domain of the extremely wealthy, Danish company Bang & Olufsen (B&O) is now making an increasing number of portable speakers that aren’t much more expensive than competitor offerings. Its latest is the incredibly compact – but surprisingly potent – Beoplay P2, which is designed for smartphone owners who want better audio on the run than their phone’s speaker can offer.

While the P2 will connect to any Bluetooth device, it’s at its best when connected to an Android or iOS phone or tablet. That’s because there are no physical buttons on the unit at all, so aside from some tap and motion controls any adjustments need to be made using the accompanying Beoplay app.

Tap and shake

At first the lack of buttons is a little disconcerting – there’s no power button and no volume rocker, just a USB-C port for charging and a leather strap. Instead, basic controls come in the form of double tapping the top of the speaker to play or pause music and shaking it to skip track.

To adjust volume, you’ll need to open the app, which offers a circular, on-screen volume control you can adjust with the slide of a finger. You’ll also need the app to check how much charge remains, though instead of a percentage you only get an icon.

Another button in the app called TouchTone lets you adjust warmth, brightness and other features of the audio to match what you’re playing. The speaker turns itself off automatically if you don’t use it for a few minutes, but turns on again if you wake up the device connected to it.

Custom controls

You can also use the speaker as an alarm that’ll play music from your library in lieu of an alarm tone. Double tapping the speaker when the alarm is going off is akin to hitting snooze, while shaking it stops the alarm.

There’s also the option to set the shake feature to activate one of four audio presets: Lounge, Party, Podcast or Favourite (your custom setting from the TouchTone menu).

Sadly, though, you can only set one of these tap-and-shake features at a time, so if you’ve set an alarm, you won’t be able to tap to pause or shake to skip a track. It’d be great to be able to customise the controls further, but we can’t have it all, can we?

Bang for buck

What we do get, though, is surprisingly rich, detailed and bass-laden sound (albeit, mono not stereo) from a splash- and dust-proof speaker not much bigger than two mobile phones stacked one on top of the other that only weights 275g.

Oh, and excellent battery life – as much as 10 hours if you keep the volume down, and a full charge in around two hours. The built-in mic is also excellent, which can be useful for taking hands-free calls or barking commands at your phone’s voice assistant.

The P2 is a surprisingly potent package for its size. But then, considering both its price and B&O’s positioning as a high-end audio brand, it ought to be. Its sound isn’t going to fill a concert hall, but it’ll be great for picnics, hotel rooms and anywhere else you might want to take your phone, but not a larger Bluetooth speaker.

The Beoplay P2 is available from B&O stores and select retailers for R3 500.