So how exactly does a wireless speaker work without a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection? The Oaxis Bento uses electromagnetic induction tech to work its magic. Simply place your smartphone on top of the Bento’s platform and align its speaker with the marked line. Its sensors then detect the sound that’s coming from your device’s speakers and amplifies it through its own larger speaker.
It’s a fascinating technology for sure. In fact, it’s almost magical the first time you place a gadget on top of it, and the sound gets dramatically louder without having to pair your device with it. Inside the Bento’s lunch-pail shaped box are a pair of 40mm full-range drivers each powered by 2.5-watt amplifier. Because of its upward-firing design, sound is omnidirectional, so you can place it pretty much anywhere in your room.
Its whiz-bang technology is not without its challenges. If you don’t place your phone in exactly the sweet spot, you can get some buzzing and other odd artifacts. The amount of distortion seems to vary depending on the specific sounds in the music from what I could tell. I found that placing my iPhone 6 plus face down produced the best sound, with the least distortion. I also imagine that the distortion varies depending on the quality of the speaker in your phone.
There’s also no volume control on the Bento, and you have to use the volume settings on your phone instead. Battery life also is a little lower than most of the other wireless speakers I’ve tested – about six hours.
In the end, I’m not sure what to make of the Bento speaker. The geek in me is totally fascinated by its technology, and the way that it’s able to amplify sound without any sort of connection to your devices. It’s also quite reasonably priced – currently just under $70. On the flip side, the sound isn’t the greatest – most inexpensive Bluetooth speakers work just as well. But if you’re looking for a speaker that requires no setup or pairing, the Bento is worth a look.