Product: CERA Wireless Portable Speaker Set
Sometimes I get crazy excited about the problem solving promise of a product. This was the case with Tego Audio's CERA wireless portable speaker and specifically, the set of three CERAs which could be daisy chained together to create an entertainment center of sorts. But while the CERA has some obvious upsides, including a 360 degree sound chamber and a simple user interface, it didn't quite live up to my dream.
There are some serious pluses to the CERA, which are worth highlighting upfront. In an era of bluetooth everything, the fact that this little device comes with a hardwired option is nice for less tech savvy users who still want a portable speaker on the go. The simple colors and press to turn on functionality is sleek and user-friendly. Beyond that, the battery life was incredible. I found it lasted well beyond the 7 hours listed in the manufacturer's specs, and didn't run out of juice until around hour 9. These factors alone, plus the impressive 360 degree sound, make the single CERA worth recommending at around $70, depending on the color. However, for the set, I'm less likely to recommend dropping the $200.
Ultimately, the reason I imagine most shoppers choosing to buy this set of three speakers versus other single bluetooth speakers is for the daisy chain functionality. I wrongly assumed the three devices would be able to communicate with each other as a set of Bluetooth speakers, which would allow them to be set up in different spaces, essentially creating a budget surround sound experience. However, my tests showed this was absolutely not the case. The only way to take advantage of the daisy chain feature was with the use of a mini USB/3.5 mm audio cable (included), which means the three speakers are always attached and only stretch a max distance of about two feet between each. The speakers are each individually loud enough to easily handle that 4 foot range, so it's a somewhat moot point.
There are some fun things you can do with the set, though, even if the daisy chain is less than ideal. For example, if you want to set up two speakers as your left and right, you can do that easily in your audio settings by naming each speaker and setting up the channels. This is a slick way to set up affordable wireless stereo speakers for a desktop computer.
Of course, the optional color schemes of the CERA can be a bonus or a downfall depending on your aesthetic. From a design perspective, I found the red CERA to look and feel a lot like an ornament, so I tended to favor the black and white designs more. I did worry about dropping the cute little CERA too, because the plastic body doesn't feel nearly as durable as a JAMBOX or the Oontz Angle. I can't say all bad things about the red though, because the different colors were helpful in setting up bluetooth when I wanted to identify each speaker individually.
In the end, I'd only recommend these speakers for setting up a two channel wireless speaker set up for your computer OR for users who want a compact speaker that can be hard wired in addition to bluetooth useage. I definitely liked these speakers and appreciated the clean sound, but individually they can't compete with similar single speakers, and their real potential comes in what they are able to achieve as a set. With future iterations, the CERA has the potential to become a truly awesome solution.
Pros: Great option for non-bluetooth devices, especially non-techy users who want compact audio on the go. Battery life lasts well beyond advertised 7 hours. The 360 degree sound is no lie and produces clean audio on a budget.
Cons: The Daisy Chain functionality doesn't take full advantage of bluetooth capabilities and requires hard wiring. The hardware isn't as durable as other similar speakers in the same price range.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by the manufacturer for testing and review purposes.
(Image credits: Elizabeth Giorgi)