Smart speakers are growing in popularity, thanks to the aggressive push from Google and Amazon. Of course, the Echo-series and Google Home devices are the first things that come to mind when we think of smart speakers. But companies like Lenovo and Sony want to change that. Sony’s SRS-XB402M is a Bluetooth smart speaker that comes with Alexa integration. Also Read - Signs of Loneliness? Indians Said ‘I Love You' to Amazon Alexa 19,000 Times a Day in 2020

While most smart speakers are built for smart home use, the Sony speaker can let you be the DJ at small house parties too. You can use the SRS-XB402M as a regular Bluetooth speaker or connect it to Wi-Fi for streaming music online. It is priced at Rs 24,990, but it is available for Rs 19,990. You can buy it from Amazon India, and Croma retail stores. After using the speaker for a couple of weeks, here is my review. Also Read - Misinformation Went Down After Social Media Banned Trump: Report

Sony SRS-XB402M: Design and connectivity

The Sony speaker has a capsule-like design, and is a bit oval in shape. It has a mix of thick all-black fabric and rubber finish. The playback buttons are on the top of the speaker, which includes the power button, mic on/off (for Alexa), and play/pause button. You also get volume control buttons and a shortcut button to turn on/off the live surround mode. There are also four-LED light indicators for volume levels. Also Read - Gamers Rejoice! PlayStation 5 to Arrive in India on February 2, Preorders From Jan 12

One of the highlights of the speaker is the vertical triple multi-color lighting system to add some party effects. You can change the lighting effects based on your mood, either from the dedicated button on the backside or from the Music Center app.

For connectivity, the speaker relies on Bluetooth 4.2, and supports AAC and SBC audio codecs. Sadly, there is no AUX-in port – so you either have to connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to play music. Besides Wi-Fi connectivity for Alexa, it also supports Spotify Connect. This means, even if your phone is not connected to the speaker via Bluetooth, you can still play music from the internet. I opened Spotify app on my MacBook Air and was able to use Spotify Connect to play music on the speaker, and it worked well.

Sony SRS-XB402M: Performance

I primarily connected the SRS-XB402M to my smartphone for playing music. I played songs via Spotify, Apple Music and even high-quality MP3 tracks stored on local phone storage. A few times I also played music while connecting my laptop to the speaker.

Talking about performance, the speaker produces a loud and clear sound. And as the speaker belongs to the XB (Extra Bass) series, the sonic signature is bass-heavy. Focus tracks included One Kiss by Dua Lipa, Closer by The Chainsmokers, and Snowbird by Clark. Now, even though the speaker is heavy on bass, it wasn’t too aggressive and maintained a perfect balance between mids, highs, and lows.

Snowbird by Clark is the perfect song to test its wide soundstaging, especially with Live mode turned on. And it did not disappoint. Moving on, the Time by Pink Floyd is another song where the instruments like the clock ticking in the background, and the strings were pretty clear, while not sounding too sharp. Even songs played via the internet (Amazon Music/Spotify Connect) did not show any drop in quality. 

One of the interesting things about the SRS-XB402M is that it comes with a built-in battery. Sony claims to offer up to 12 hours battery life. During my testing, the speaker easily lasted for about 11 hours, which is not bad. Charging happens using the proprietary connection or using a microUSB connector. I’d recommend using the proprietary connector as it takes a little over three hours to completely charge, whereas microUSB is much slower. 

Should you buy the Sony SRS-XB402M?

Overall, the Sony SRS-XB402M is an interesting product. The rightly balanced audio quality and sound output makes the speaker a good addition to your smart home. It also offers good battery life, which means you don’t have to worry about charging it from time to time. The portable nature, despite weighing 1.5kg, makes it easy to carry around.

One of the best things I liked about the speaker is that you get – Alexa without wires. This is not something you’ll get with any other Alexa-powered smart speaker in the market today. That said, the price point of Rs 19,990 is maybe a bit hefty for some. In this price range, you can get a decent 5.1 channel speakers and an Echo Dot to have the same Alexa experience.

But for those who want portability, there is no other competition to the Sony SRS-XB402M. What’s more, it is IP67 certified too, meaning you can take it to the shower, or even dip it in a pool for during a pool party.