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Measuring 3.5 by 8.4 by 3.4 inches (HWD) and weighing in at about 1.8 pounds, the roughly cylindrical Charge 3 is a bit larger and bulkier than plenty of competing portable Bluetooth models. The downside, obviously, is that it weighs down bags and is a bit more of a pain to tote around. The upside is the audio performance, but more on that in the next section. The Charge 3 is offered in black, blue, gray, red, and teal, with an IPX7-rated water-resistant shell.
Sound is projected forward through the speaker grille via dual 50mm, 10-watt drivers, while passive bass radiators on both the left and right ends of the cylinder aid in providing bass response. A rubberized base keeps the speaker from rolling around and allows the drivers to deliver sound at an upward angle.
An array of controls situated along the top panel offer dedicated buttons for Bluetooth pairing, volume control (these buttons work in conjunction with your mobile device's master volume level), play/pause, and power. There's also Connect button for pairing two speakers with one sound source. The playback button doubles as the call management button, and can also be tapped twice to skip forward a track, but cannot be pressed three times to skip backward—the speaker lacks any backward track navigation, a puzzling omission.
Charge 3 inlineA snap-shut cover on the back panel protects a 3.5mm aux input, the micro USB connection for charging the speaker, and a USB connection for charging mobile devices using the speaker's battery. A USB cable and AC adapter ship with the speaker, but there is no included 3.5mm audio, which is a disappointment at this price. In fact, the speaker ships with no accessories at all, only the essential charging cable and adapter—a carrying pouch or audio cable would have been nice inclusions.
Charge 3's battery life to be about 20 hours, but your results will vary with your mix of wired versus wireless playback, your volume levels, and obviously, whether or not you use the battery to charge your mobile devices.
On tracks with powerful sub-bass content, like The Knife's "Silent Shout," the Charge 3 delivers some impressive low frequency response. At top, impressively loud volume levels, the Charge 3 does not distort on this challenging track. It's not so powerful that you'll be searching for a hidden subwoofer in the room, but the bass response the Charge 3 is able to achieve with its two drivers and two passive radiators is about as good as it gets in a speaker this size and price.
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