When i first came across the HiddenRadio project on Kickstarter I just had to back it, as the combination of the great design with the promise of good sound in a portable bluetooth speaker was too good to miss out on. Having had the speaker for about two weeks now, putting it across its pace, it is time to share what I have found out about this unique bluetooth portable speaker.
Apple and design fans out there will likely love the design of the HiddenRadio, with mine being the brushed metal version, as it does match my Macbook Pro perfectly. It is beautiful in its simplicity, roughly the size of a decent coffee cup, and there are no visible buttons to interfere with the sleek design. The guys behind the HiddenRadio has been clever enough to fit all necessary button functions (three) at the bottom of the unit, consisting of a switch between the bluetooth, line-in, and FM radio + buttons for searching for radio stations. Turning on the HiddenRadio and adjusting the volume is all done through the twisting cap of the unit itself, one of its unique and interesting features.
Turning it on for the first time by twisting the cap clockwise, a small light comes on telling you that the unit is in bluetooth pairing mode. Both my iPhone 4, Nexus 7, and Macbook Pro found the device immediately, so pairing was very simple. Bluetooth streaming is the primary purpose of the HiddenRadio as FM radio for example requires you to keep lifting up and turning around the device to search for your desired channel. In fact, you are then much better off using the bluetooth streaming and finding a good radio app on your smartphone instead which allows you to control your radio requirements without touching your HiddenRadio. It will also save you from running any wires from your device (such as the antenna). The twisting cap control for volume has worked pretty flawless for me so far, although some are reporting that they are struggling to do it one-handed as the silicon cushion at the bottom of the unit does not seem to give enough grip to stop the whole unit from twisting on certain surfaces
HiddenRadio sound performance
While i love the design of the HiddenRadio, when first streaming songs from my iPhone 4 i got worried as the audio performance was below what i expected, even from a bluetooth portable speaker. The bass was pretty much non-existent and there was interference in general. Shifting over to streaming from my Nexus 7 resulted in improved audio performance however. Perhaps it has something to do with the bluetooth version/software in the different devices, but the performance definitely got better. I have also found that the unit is performing better after using it for a few hours, something that i have found with other new speakers i have tested as well. The HiddenRadio uses omnidirectional audio technology to provide the same listening experience regardless of position, but this can also be a flaw compared to more traditional audio set ups when it comes to audio performance. After two weeks i still think that the HiddenRadio has some flaws in the audio department, especially when it comes to handling bass. But in context of its purpose and the fact that it is a portable bluetooth speaker, its performance is decent.
Overall the HiddenRadio is a great looking bluetooth speaker with a decent sound for use around the home, but not as your main sound system. Judging purely on audio, the price tag seems high, but take the design into consideration and you get close to value for money, especially if you already have bought into the Apple universe.