Ideal for watching “films on the go”, the Skullcandy Barricade Mini Bluetooth speaker is genuinely portable in that it’s light in weight, robustly built and capable of delivering audio that gives your movies something extra over typical tablet speaker systems.
The key to Bluetooth speakers is knowing what you want. They’re all built for different reasons. The big, heavy-duty ones aren’t the sorts of speakers you want to be putting in your luggage for your trip overseas. That’s where speakers like the Skullcandy Barricade Mini come in. It’s a genuinely portable Bluetooth speaker as it’s lightweight, robustly built and capable of delivering audio that gives your movies something extra over typical tablet speaker systems.
At 3.6 x 3.8 x 2.6 inches, the Skullcandy Barricade Mini is nicely compact, fitting comfortably in hand luggage or laptop carry case. The Mini is the smallest of the Barricade family which features the classic Barricade and the Barricade XL. It is therefore the ideal option for travel, taking up little room in bags and not weighing you down.
Described as featuring “rugged construction and classic, clean design” and delivering “up to 6 hours of rechargeable battery life and hugely powerful, full-spectrum sound”, Skullcandy’s “mini” speaker largely delivers on its promise.
An affordable, entry-level Bluetooth speaker for the traveller
The Skullcandy Barricade Mini is an ideal starter-speaker for those wanting to add audio options to their film-viewing while either away from home or in a room without a TV/home cinema set-up. In my tests, I used the speaker for both reasons – watching Deep Impact in my bedroom with the speaker, wirelessly connected to my laptop, on the bedside table. I also tested it on a recent visit to Paris where I again set up the speaker on the bedside table and wirelessly connected it to my old iPad 2.
Since Skullcandy entered the market some 15 years ago, the brand has proven successful in marrying value with quality in the mid-range audio market. The Skullcandy Barricade Mini is the smallest version of its Barricade range and is therefore one of the brand’s ideal speakers for watching films on-the-go.
Ready-made for those “on the go”
The handy fabric loop-strap can clip to your bag for ease-of-travel and added security. At only 1.8 ounces you’ll hardly notice it and as I found out, its lightweight while its build-quality means it can withstand a fall. Similarly, functionality and use is equally straightforward with both wireless and wired connections available with on-speaker controls for things like volume and track-skip.
One thing I particularly like about this speaker is the fact it’s waterproof. While on a recent business trip in Europe I paused my film and started streaming music through the speaker from my iPad. Taking the speaker with me into the bathroom while I showered I accidentally dropped the speaker in the shower while it was on and the speaker got soaking wet. But this well-built audio device took both the drop and the shower like a champion. It continued playing and, after re-reading the instructions, I understood that the water would have no adverse affect on it because it’s waterproof. So if you fancy taking this speaker with you to the beach or pool during a trip or holiday, don’t worry about it getting wet.
Bass levels give the Skullcandy Barricade Mini the edge
It would be unfair to compare portable speakers with their large Bluetooth counterparts but when it comes to watching films you’re inclined to think back to your home cinema set-up. That’s understandable.
What I found with the Skullcandy Barricade Mini is that it copes with music handsomely. There are few problems enjoying the latest Ed Sheeran track. But the soundtrack of a film has more subtle parts and the Barricade Mini struggles to deliver a truly satisfactory range between dialogue, sound effects and music. Indeed, it comes into its own when music plays but lacks punch and depth when more subtle sound delivery is required.
However, because the speaker is so good at handling music, it is consequently quite handy at bringing plenty of bass to the party when called for. A passive radiator has been packed into its miniature design giving it comparable bass delivery to larger speakers. For this reason, it offers you an enhancement to typical tablet or laptop speakers as the bass notes pack a bit more oomph.
In fact, with some emphasis placed on the low end through the incorporation of a passive radiator, the Skullcandy Barricade Mini offers an impressive level of bass that is, as you’d expect, ideal for movie watching, particularly those heavy on action scenes.
The Pluses and Minuses of standalone mini Bluetooth speakers versus laptop audio
Inevitably, you lose the spatial qualities of a two-speaker stereo laptop set-up. You’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons of using the Skullcandy Barricade Mini against your laptop if you’re going to watch movies that way. You’ll get a deeper, earthier sound with the Skullcandy Bluetooth speaker which is great for music and a good upgrade to tablets when not listening via headphones but a lot of laptops will give it a run for its money when it comes to watching TV/movies. The fact you’ve got everything in one place with a laptop and no need for extra connections is a bonus, and one reason to dismiss the Barricade Mini as an option.
At less than £30, the Skullcandy Barricade Mini presents great value. It’s the sort of speaker you’d take with you when walking/hiking, playing sport and international travel without the burden of worrying too much about it getting broke en route or stolen. Firstly, it’s robustly built so can take a few falls while it’s unassuming, low-key design won’t attract many tea theives. And if it is stolen you won’t be as unhappy as the guy with the Beats Pill!
Does the trick
When you know the Skullcandy Barricade Mini’s limitations, there’s no reason not to be impressed by this device. It won’t given you a home cinema surround sound set-up away from home but it does offer an earthier upgrade to tablets, phones and even laptop movie watching. You’ll probably be better offer using headphones – and Skullcandy has a few good options – when “on the go” but this portable Bluetooth speaker is small, light, robust and inexpensive so is ideal for the traveller.