The Good: Solidly built, very portable, generous battery life, great sound, doubles as a speakerphone.
The Bad: Slightly cheap looking, hiss on auxiliary audio, no mains plug.
The Bottom Line: Stunningly good value portable audio.
Ever heard of Inateck? No, neither had I. It is a German company in the trade of manufacturing computer-related accessories, from USB hubs, to cases, to HDD enclosures. Drill down into its significant range, past the barcode readers and keyboards, and you’ll find BP2001 — a Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker with a mounting spot for a phone or tablet.
With an RRP of £49.99, it’s remarkably affordable, and it packs 10W of audio, too. But can a jack-of-all-trades company really produce a masterful sound experience? To find out, I gave the BP2001 a try.
Out of the Box
I can’t say I was filled with optimism as I pulled out the Inateck from its packaging. The materials used on the exterior all look a bit cheap, especially where silver plastic seems to have been used as a cost-cutting replacement for steel. On my review unit, the one and only button is even on a slight tilt.
The BP2001’s design is okay, but ithe materials look fraction cheap.
However, the design is decent. The BP2001 is only about 6cm tall and 4cm deep, making it eminently suitable for travel use. Visually, it isn’t going to offend any eyes, and once you actually start to use the Inateck, it also becomes apparent that it is made of better stuff than first impressions would suggest. Pick it up, and it feels solid. Even that wonky button depresses with a pleasantly subtle click. It’s quite impressive for such a low cost speaker, actually.
I mentioned above that this is a portable speaker. That point is reinforced when you open the box and find no plug; mains-powered listening is an impossibility without additional equipment. All you get is a short USB cable for charging the internal battery, and an auxiliary cable. That battery is meant to last 5-6 hours, but it actually has more to give.
With the BP2001 fully charged, switching it on puts it straight into Bluetooth pairing mode (unless you have the 3.5mm cable plugged in). The range isn’t vast, but making the connection is a one-tap or one-click process. Of course, this means you can start belting out tunes, but thanks to the in-built mic, you can use the Inateck as a respectable speakerphone, too.
The big round button on the front acts as a Play/Pause toggle for music, and an Answer/End for calls. Around the button’s rim are three helpful indication lights, which let you know what the status of your connection is, and whether the battery is charging.
The Inateck is remarkably stable with an iPad on top.
Finally, on top of the BP2001 is that slot for an iPad or iPhone. I pick out Apple products simply because that’s what it was designed for, but in truth, any relatively slim device will happily sit in there. Considering the size of the unit, it’s pretty remarkable how stable it is with such a device in place. This can be attributed to the very well designed kick-stand, and the Inateck’s low centre of gravity.
The kick-stand is superbly designed.
The most pleasing surprise of all, however, is when the music starts. 10 watts doesn’t seem like all that much, but it kicks out a remarkable amount of sound from such a small unit.
It’s very nice sound, too. Whilst it does have the unmistakable audio signatures of a small speaker, the output is clear and crisp, with a reasonable amount of depth. The fact that it is a small unit makes it better suited to the strident trebles of electronic, dance and mainstream pop, but it reproduces all genres faithfully, and clarity is maintained as the volume is cranked up. In fact, the only real negative I could find was the slight hiss on the auxiliary audio, which is not really an issue unless you’ve got your ear on the speaker when it is quiet. Which would be a slightly weird thing to do, in fairness…
In summing up, I’m going to be direct here: the Inateck BP2001 is stunningly good value. In fact, that does it a disservice — at £100, it would be good value. It is solidly built and very portable. It doubles as a speakerphone, has a generous battery life, and most importantly, it sounds great.
Of course, there are compromises — it is merely decent in terms of looks and that hiss on the audio really shouldn’t be there. But when Inateck is selling the BP2001 direct via Amazon at £28.99 (at the time of writing), who cares. Just get one.