One of the [few] things that I miss about working at RadioShack is the endless samples of new gadgetry. Towards the end of my career at “The Shack”, we were really focused on audio, so I got new Bluetooth speakers all the time, like the SOL REPUBLIC DECK (a personal favorite), the Skullcandy Air Raid, or even the Beats Pill. So when asked if I wanted to check out the new waterproof/shockproof I-Venstar S406 Bluetooth speaker, it was easy to say yes.
Confession: I’d never heard of I-Venstar before they reached out, and I probably would have passed them over while browsing or shopping. However, I’m definitely impressed.
The Physical Stuff
The S406 is a relatively small speaker, measuring in at 66mm x 66mm x 170mm (2.6in x 2.6in x 6.7in). Basically, about the same size as a tallboy beer can, only shaped into a rounded square. It has a silicone wrapping around it that provides some grip and durability, with speaker grilles all the way around. It’s also remarkably lightweight, at only 600g (21.1oz), but yet still feels well-built.
The buttons and NFC sensor are on one end, along with a small indicator light. You get a single multipurpose button that turns the speaker on/off, pauses/plays your music, and can answer an incoming phone call. You’ll also find a pair of buttons that skip track forward/backward when pressed once, or you can press and hold to adjust the volume. I would have preferred this to be swapped, so they do volume first, and hold for skip track, but that’s about the only complaint. The buttons are covered with the silicone skin of the rest of the speaker, but they’re raised and easy to find/press.
On the other end of the I-Venstar S406 is a thin silicone flap covering the 3.5mm auxiliary input port, along with the microUSB charging port and the full-size USB power outlet. You obviously wouldn’t want to do it in a wet environment, but you could use this speaker to charge your phone while it’s playing music, which is handy. The S406 has a 4,400 mAh internal battery, so you could charge most smartphones fully with a little bit leftover for the speaker.
Speaking of power, when you’re just using the speaker as a speaker, the battery is awesome. I’ve been using it while in the shower and getting ready (~30-45 min) every day for about 2 weeks and haven’t had to charge it yet.
The I-Venstar S406 is IPX4 rated for water resistance, which is defined as “water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect“. As stated before, I’ve used this in the shower since I got it about two weeks ago. Granted, it’s sitting on a rather high built-in soapdish shelf, but it’s right below the shower head, so it still gets plenty wet. I haven’t noticed any degradation in sound quality, connection ability, or any other issues. I should note, the silicone flap on the bottom that covers the various ports is very thin, and you should make sure it sits completely flush with the rest of the bottom to preserve the water resistance.
I wouldn’t hesitate at all to take this speaker on a weekend camping trip – it even has a small metal hook on one side, and comes with a carabiner to attach it to your backpack or whatever. It also comes with a USB-to-microUSB cable and a 3.5mm auxiliary cable in the box, for power and audio.
Side Note: I’m really impressed with I-Venstar’s packaging, as well. It’s very professional and high quality – I wouldn’t hesitate to order these for gifts and just wrap the box as-is.
The Other Stuff
Thanks to the built-in NFC chip, pairing is a breeze. Just turn the speaker on and hold your phone’s NFC sensor over the S406’s and you’re ready to roll. It quickly reconnects to my Moto X 2014 as soon as I turn the speaker on.
The S406 has a built-in microphone, and the multipurpose button can be used to answer and end incoming phone calls. I’ve not used these functions, cause I don’t have a clue who I would want to talk to while I’m in the shower, but they’re there, nonetheless.
The sound quality is really pretty good, considering this is a <$40 speaker (at time of publishing). Using it in the shower, I typically keep the volume at around 50-60% to avoid being blasted out, and the quality at this range is really good, as well. It can get distorted if you max the volume out, but in most situations, you wouldn’t need it that loud, anyways.
The only real complaint that I have about the I-Venstar S406 is that it’s only available in black. I’d love to see some additional colors, or even swappable silicone skins. As a shower speaker, surely folks would love a white model, and outdoors folks would probably dig some brighter colors, or even camo. Easy way to expand the product line.
If you’re looking for a way to listen to music in the shower, the I-Venstar S406 is a great option. Sure, there are cheaper options, but they’re mostly smaller, produce poorer sound, or lack the volume/track change buttons to make them really useful. The battery life of this speaker is awesome, and it would make the perfect gift for an outdoors enthusiast who wants to bring some music with them.
Disclaimer: the I-Venstar S406 was provided to me by the company for this review. Also, this post contains affiliate links to the product listing on Amazon. Because I need to buy new gadgets, and the alternative is ugly banner ads.