It won’t be too long until Amazon Alexa and Google Home (maybe Siri…) are pretty much apart of everything in your house that plugs into the wall. Although it hasn’t gotten that far yet, based on the sheer (recent) amount of product we have seen that already supports these assistants, this year will have become one of their biggest expansions into homes yet.
Some of these products include smart speakers (of course), video screens, refrigerators, TVs, and more. For now though, we will keep to the category of speakers with a focus on another Alexa built-in option, a portable speaker called the iLive Platinum Concierge.
What looks quite similar to an Amazon Echo speaker or an Ultimate Ears Boom, the iLive Platinum Concierge allows you to take your speaker (with Alexa) on the road with you. It features wireless support for both Bluetooth and WiFi, and packs a litheon rechargeable battery good for up to 5 hours in Bluetooth or 2 hours in WiFi. With this, you can just grab a speaker and take Alexa anywhere you need her.
The speaker is ultra light, weighing just a tad more than a pound in weight. Its has a cloth grille surrounding it similar to the material you’d find in a couch or Lazy Boy rocker. Surprisingly, it only comes in one color, which is mostly a theme of gray shades, white text (bottom and logo) and a multi-color LED ring on top to display status as well as Amazon Alexa’s modes.
Its center mass is right in the center where it should be, keeping it upright nicely, even if it gets bumped slightly. The entire top portion is plastic (bottom as well). Running down the middle of the speaker on one side is a rubber strip filled with buttons and inputs.
There are six total buttons, including two of which that can enable or disable the microphone (in case you don’t want Alexa spying on you for any reason). There are two buttons for volume: up and down. One button to play/pause the current track or source, which also enabled pair mode if you hold it down (to pair it to a Bluetooth enabled device such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop and more). Last there is a power/mode button that turns the speaker on and off by holding it down, and then you can change the current mode by single presses (ie, WiFi, Bluetooth, aux-in).
Below the buttons there are two inputs. One of which is micro-USB for charging the speaker, and the other is for connected a wired device with, using the provided aux 3.5mm cable (for devices that don’t have any wireless support).
Another device, another app
The app is required to get this speaker to work, so you will be looking for “iLive Wi-Fi Control” within the iOS or Android app market. Once you have downloaded the app and powered the speaker, open the app and it will begin to search for the speaker. If it doesn’t see it automatically, it will ask you to connect to its broadcasted WiFi (giving you the format of the SSID to look for). Once connected, it will then walk you through added it to your own WiFi network. For us, it did take us a few tries to get the speaker to connect (and we did have to manually connect to the network both times we tried to join a network during our tests).
Once the speaker is on your WiFi, it will attempt to pair with Amazon Alexa. It doesn’t seem the process was meant to be complicated at all. Their intentions seem to be focused on user-friendliness. Despite this, Amazon Alexa wouldn’t initially work for us. If you find yourself in the same situation, just choose to cancel that part to continue. When we did this, it led us to a screen that said there was a firmware update was available. After installing the update, we went into the menu, choose Amazon Alexa and successfully added it without a problem (so it seems it was just a firmware bug that was fixed).
Once you have done all of this, your speaker should be ready to go, including using Alexa with your voice.–“Alexa, …..hi!!!”.
WiFi distance seems to be good. We made sure to cover a distance comparable to the average size of a 2-4 bedroom house to see if there were any dropouts, and we didn’t experience a single one.
Although the little card that was included with the speaker claimed Pandora and Spotify didn’t work without streaming it from your device via Bluetooth (yet), it seems to be partially wrong, as Pandora worked through Alexa just fine (which might have been one of added features of the firmware update). We were able to control Pandora just as you would a normal Echo speaker (“Alexa, play Rush radio on Pandora!”).
We found that it supports both iHeartRadio and Pandora just fine (as long as your internet is working of course). SiriusXM, TIDAL and Spotify however did not work, which means for anything not supported Alexa-wise, will need to be streamed from your phone via Bluetooth. This also includes any music or apps on your phone that have sound.
It does not play well with Alexa Echo speakers when it comes to multi-room audio. Telling it to play on a group (ie, “everywhere”) will play across all other speakers except for itself. If it is already playing something when you ask it to, it will trigger all the other speakers to play what you asked successfully, but then go back to what it was originally playing itself. So although multi-room audio is listed as a feature for this speaker, it seems to be limited to its own kind.
Sound quality is somewhere in the middle. You can’t expect any bass from this at all. So if you are looking for something a little more boomy, you might want to look for a bigger speaker. All of their focus seems to have gone to the high and mid frequencies, with a slight presence of mid-lows. It is great if you need something simple and not a portable party. Great for an office desk or small work area where you just need some simple tunes.
It isn’t audiophile/reference quality, but it does work. The volume can get quite loud and it does deliver 360-degrees of sound. It’s just that the price gets dangerously close to the price of the Echo, which triggers certain expectations.
What’s in the box?
It comes with a micro-USB cable for charging purposes, although it does not come with a wall adapter. You will have to find an adapter from one of your other devices or simply plug it into a PC/Mac (USB 3.1+ for the best results) port capable of supplying a charge.
There is a short 3.5mm cable for analog (wired) devices, and some paperwork to get you started with–as well as a few advertisements (Spotify and Amped Router).
It does seem to be a good little speaker and there are still a huge amount of uses for Amazon Alexa. It provides a wonderful Wi-Fi range, and although it doesn’t support everything on Alexa just yet, you can connect your phone via Bluetooth for everything else. The price causes us to compare it to some other speakers with better range, causing a little drop to the score. They do need to clean up the app so that it is much more fluid (less bloopers), and work on the battery life a little (5-10 hrs would have been nice). Other than that, it is a nice speaker with the ability to go wireless so that you can carry it around everywhere you go. It’s not perfect, but it did manage to stay in the positive (score) just fine.
|Buy from Amazon|
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Wireless speaker (audio and power)
- Voice-activated Amazon Alexa support
- Bluetooth wireless
- Built-in Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct & multi-room play (between iLive speakers)
- Multi-user capable
- Aux in (3.5mm audio input)
- Stream from iHeartRadio, TIDAL, or audio stored directly on your device
- Built-in microphone
- Micro-USB port for battery recharge
- Play/pause/pairing button
- On/off switch
- Digital volume control
- LED light ring
- LED function indicator
- Charge indicator
- Wireless range: Bluetooth – 33 feet, Wi-Fi – 98 feet
- Cloth speaker grill
- DC battery power: built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery
- Battery life using WiFi: ~1-2 hours at 50% volume
- Battery life using Bluetooth: ~5 hours at 50% volume
- iLive Wi-Fi app download
- 3.5mm audio cable
- Micro-USB to USB cable
- User’s guide
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.