Smart speakers are quickly making their way into our homes. There are two popular options – you can either go for Amazon Alexa-powered smart speakers, or Google Assistant based speakers. But these speakers need to be connected to a power source all the time. There is Sony SRS-XB402M Smart Speaker which comes with a built-in battery, and costs around Rs 20,000. But it is too big and heavy, meaning you can’t carry in your pocket. The boAt Stone 200A is here to solve that problem. Also Read - Best Smart Speakers launched in India in 2019
At launch, it was available at an introductory price of Rs 1,499. However, you can now buy the boAt Stone 200A via Amazon India for Rs 2,700, which isn’t bad either. It directly competes with Amazon Echo Dot (3rd-gen), which is available for Rs 3,999. But does affordable pricing and built-in battery make it a better option? Read my review to find out. Also Read - boAt Stone 200A smart speaker with Alexa built-in launched at Rs 1,499: Here is how it stacks up against Amazon Echo Input
Design and connectivity
Successor to the Stone 200, the Stone 200A is a rugged portable speaker. It carries IP6X certification for water and dust resistance. I dipped the speaker in water for about 2-3 minutes, and even after that, it worked flawlessly. The frame is sealed with a watertight rubber finish, which makes it dust proof, and also makes it shock proof to handle minor falls. Also Read - boAt Airdopes 201 Review: Best budget true wireless earbuds?
The buttons for power, volume, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi at the top. The buttons are a little rigid, and you need to really apply some force on them. Along the left you have a flap under which hides the microUSB charging port, and a 3.5mm AUX in socket. So, if you have a smartphone with a 3.5mm audio jack, you can use the cable to connect with the speaker. You can also mount the speaker on a tripod, and the provision for the same is given at the bottom.
The boAt Stone 200A also comes with Wi-Fi connectivity to stream music from Amazon Prime Music, JioSaavn, Hungama Music and Gaana. And of course, Alexa commands and skills are also supported. You can download “boAt Lifestyle” app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store to pair the speaker with your phone. Talking about Bluetooth, you have support for version 4.1.
boAt Stone 200A Review: Alexa smarts
The highlight of the Stone 200A is the built-in Alexa, not something you find in this price point. You get support for popular commands to ask for weather updates, general knowledge questions, quiz and more. You can also open Amazon Alexa app and enable skills for the smart speaker.
boAt is using a far field mic, but sadly, during my testing, I was disappointed. It worked well when asking basic questions and giving commands. But when songs are playing, the speaker does not hear you at all. You really have to go close to where the mic is located, and scream at the top of your voice for Alexa to wake up.
So, when music is playing, there is no way you can skip, stop or play next song. You have to wait till the song ends, and give commands while the music fades. The other option is to tap the Wi-Fi button to disconnect it, or switch it off completely. I’d just say it defeats the purpose of having Alexa far field mic, but then, for the price point, it’s too much to ask for.
Keeping music aside, you can use Alexa commands to turn on/off the IoT devices such as light, fan and more. The speaker did get a firmware update, after which the mic issue became prominent. If it is a software related issue, maybe boAt can release an update to fix this.
Talking about audio quality, the 3W speaker on the Stone 200A is loud and clear. I played music over Bluetooth from the Galaxy S10+ and from my MacBook Air. Songs included different genres, right from pop to hip-hop, trance and Bollywood. I found it to be quite bass heavy, and the highs were sharp. Only the mids were a little off, and you could notice that when playing slow Bollywood songs. Otherwise, for the price point, there is too little to complain.
The Stone 200A comes with a 1,500mAh battery, which the company claims to offer about 10 hours of music playback. Full charging takes about three hours. During my testing, the speaker lasted for a little above eight hours, which isn’t bad. But most of my music playback during this time was via Bluetooth. And because of the mic issues, I didn’t get enough time to test while streaming music from Wi-Fi.
Verdict: Should you buy the boAt Stone 200A?
The boAt Stone 200A is an interesting product. When I used to Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini, I always wished it had a built-in battery. It would have allowed me to use these smart speakers without having to rely on a power source. The Stone 200A solves that problem. It comes with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, making it first in the segment.
With the affordable Stone 200A, Alexa smarts are made even more accessible at a lower price point. But as I mentioned, the far field mic doesn’t respond when playing music. This makes it practically useless as you can’t even stop music playback. Leave this one important thing aside, and I don’t have many complaints about the speaker. I hope boAt takes note of this and fixes the issue with a software update. And if it is a hardware problem, I hope the next smart speaker from the company is built keeping these factors in mind.