QuickLook: Altec Lansing’s T515 Bluetooth Portable Speakers
More and more devices these days are taking advantage of A2DP, or Bluetooth high quality audio. But without a speaker or set of headphones that use this technology, the feature is rather wasted on the originating device. Altec Lansing’s T515 combines what should be the best of all worlds: a Bluetooth headset, A2DP, Line in audio, and portable sound. How does it compare to other portable speakers on the market? Read on for the review!
AT A GLANCE
(all images link to higher resolution)
The T515 box advertising certainly draws the eye, and would have you believe this unit would be yet another high-quality Altec Lansing product, but looks can, and are deceiving…
Inside the box, along with the hardware, is a user guide, warranty card, and zippered nylon case.
Also included in the kit is a gold-plated male-to-male audio cable, a set of headphones, a USB power as well as a wall power source.
One of the nice features of the T515 is the Bluetooth headset that can be detached and used separately. The front of its black face is the microphone, a power button, a forward/back ring, and a play/pause button. The included headphones plug into the top, and are a rather short y cable (with one side longer than the other). Alas, the call quality was rather poor. People had trouble hearing me, and I had trouble hearing them.
On the back of the headset unit is a small clip, which works well, but unit is rather heavy, and with the short audio cable, it is rather difficult to attach to one’s belt. There are audio controls as well as a power jack on either side of the case, and a small jack at the base to connect to the main speaker unit.
To take advantage of the speakerphone or A2DP capabilities, you simply open the front of the T515 and insert the headset into the jack. While the box claims first class speakerphone capabilities, the small notice inside the door says "For the best hands-free experience, we recommend using the detachable headset and earphones to place/accept calls." The headset does draw power when connected, and thus it is recommended that you remove it if only using batteries.
With the front door closed, the Altec Lansing T515 actually looks very sleek. The top of the device has a blue power LED, a circular power button, and two volume control buttons. It’s unfortunate that the sound quality doesn’t match the design. The maximum volume is rather low, and I suspect this is due to the large amount of distortion that is heard if you boost the volume on your audio device end.
The curved back of the T515 hides the battery door (three AAA are needed for power), and the optional power jack, plus the line in port. Battery life was excellent, staying within the realm of similar portable speaker units. The two holes seen above are bass ports that push a decent amount of air when audio is playing. On the bottom of the unit are four small rubber feet to keep the speaker from sliding around.
THE DRAWING BOARD
The number one area I would rework is the sound quality. Compared to other speakers in the same size and form factor, such as the Kenginston FX 500 and the BlueAnt BlueSonic Bluetooth speakers (you can see more reviews of comparable devices here), T515 lacks quite a bit in volume and clarity. The in-call clarity was especially poor, and needs a major overhaul, in my opinion.
You can purchase Altec Lansing’s T515 here for $149.95 USD.
- Has Bluetooth or wired audio inputs
- Great battery life
- Sleek look
- Easy to carry
- Poor audio quality
- Doesn’t work well as a Bluetooth speakerphone
- Short headphone cable
- Still picks up GSM "buzz"
Although its black and shiny exterior would like you to feel like the Altec Lansing T515 is a powerhouse of sound and design, it, alas, is just good looking. The sound quality, especially in the call area, was sub-par for the price, and therefore isn’t a unit that I would necessarily recommend unless you are eager to use A2DP via portable speakers. Hopefully, Altec Lansing will take this unit back to the drawing board and resurrect it to something more fitting to the its namesake.