Soundzone SZ1001 Capsule Speaker
by Chris Taylor
In an episode of The Big
Bang Theory, the guys are helping Penny with a new
business. Penny asks "How are flower barrettes going
to appeal to men?" Howard exclaims, "We add
Bluetooth". When Penny expresses surprise that they
want to add Bluetooth to a hair barrette, Sheldon
replies, "Penny, everything is better with
And so it was when I recently came across an ad for a
portable speaker. I already have a shoX mini speaker that
puts out great sound
So how could a mini speaker be made better? Bluetooth, of
The Soundzone SZ1001 is - at first
blush - a fairly standard looking portable speaker. But
glancing at the specs, it quickly became apparent this is
not - to paraphrase Oldsmobile - your father's portable
First, what is similar to other portable speakers such as
the shoX mini? (see shoX review in October 2011 issue or
It is compact. It has an expanding section that opens up
a chamber for much improved bass sound. It comes with
cables that allow it to be plugged into any sound device
with a 3.5mm jack as well as charge it from a USB port.
The sound quality from the 3W speaker is excellent.
But there are two areas where the SZ1001 leaps ahead. The
first is connectivity and the second is battery life.
The big difference is Bluetooth connectivity. Once you
pair the speaker with your audio device, it just works.
It really is nice to use it without having to worry about
cables. I found it held a wireless connection reliably up
to about 20 feet in most circumstances, which I found to
be quite adequate for my needs. If I moved out of range,
it would reconnect automatically as soon as I moved
I was able to easily pair the speaker with my laptop and
my BlackBerry. However, I found changing devices messed
up the pairing. As long as I stayed with one device,
simply turning on Bluetooth was all I needed to get the
connection to happen. If I switched devices, I had to
re-pair. A simple operation, but something to keep in
mind if you want to use the speaker with more than one
You can also use the included audio cable which has a
3.5mm jack for a wired connection to just about any MP3
player or computer. It is one of those funky cables like
the shoX mini with a mini-USB connector that plugs into
the speaker and the other end has both the 3.5mm audio
jack and a standard USB-A plug for charging the device.
There is also a tethered 3.5mm audio cable that tucks
into the bottom of the speaker. This very nice addition
means, if I were to lose the separate cable, I could play
through the cable in the bottom of the device and then
buy a regular cable with a USB-A at one end and mini-USB
at the other for charging the device.
I am always leery of stated battery life, especially when
it claims "up to" a certain number of hours. So
I was sceptical about the "up to 12 hours"
claimed in the manual. I was pleasantly surprised. Even
over Bluetooth, I got a solid 9 hours from a full charge.
And the SZ1001 charges in just 2 hours on a standard USB
Then I tried it on an audio cable rather than Bluetooth.
I had to start taking notes because the battery was not
dying before I had to go to work, or to bed, or out to
dinner. The battery lasted an incredible 29 hours on a
single charge! I found this so unbelievable, I had to
retest. The volume had been a little high for my first
test, so I turned it down to a little softer, yet still
quite clear, level. This time, the battery lasted 38
When operating on a Bluetooth connection, the SZ1001 has
controls for adjusting the volume, pause/play, and skip
forward/backwards by track. I picture being in a hotel
room on a trip, with Shaula (my netbook) across the room
on a desk plugged in and charging, with the Soundzone
speaker beside me on the bedside table. Very, very handy
to be able to control the media player right from the
speaker rather than getting up and crossing the room.
One thing I had not counted on when using a Bluetooth
speaker was interference with WiFi networking
(802.11b/g/n). This is not the fault of Soundzone - it is
inherent with Bluetooth as it uses the same frequencies.
I was happily transferring some music from my desktop
computer to Shaula and was getting my normal 1 to 1.5
MBytes per second file transfers. While I continued to
transfer files, I fired up the speaker and started
listening to music. While the music played fine, I saw my
file transfer speed drop to an abysmal 50 to 60 KBytes
per second, or about 5% of the performance without
Although the technology in Bluetooth allows for some
fancy footwork in shifting channels to try to avoid
collisions, it certainly didn't work for me. I might play
with the channel my WiFi uses at some point to see if it
helps, but for now I will just live with the limitation.
If there is one failing with this wonderful little
speaker, it has to be the instructions that are included.
The four pages of incredibly small type (one page has 554
words in a square 2" x 2") cover safety
instructions (including the peculiar admonishment not to
"defeat the purpose of the polarized plug" -
which might make sense if the device had such a thing),
one page of pictures with a packing list, one page on how
to pair the speaker, and finally one page of
Unfortunately, there were no instructions on how to use
some of the dual-purpose buttons on the speaker, no
instructions on how to switch between Bluetooth and
cabled operation, and not even an explanation that the
written instruction "To switch on the speaker, press
down on the power button for some time." actually
meant 5 to 10 seconds!
Fortunately, at the Soundzone web site, there is an FAQ
which expands enough on the instructions that, with a
little stumbling around and trying things, I figured
The Soundzone SZ1001 is not cheap. The price at the web
site is $79.90. Orders over $50 ship for free from the
Oakville Ontario company, so that helps a little.
Overall, I am really impressed with the quality and
functionality of the Soundzone SZ1001 Bluetooth capsule
speaker. Although a little pricy, if you need a wireless
speaker, or a speaker with amazingly long battery life, I
don't think you will be disappointed in it.
Soundzone SZ1001 Bluetooth capsule speaker
$79.90 (shipping included)
Originally published: June, 2012
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.