I was recently sent a TimeBox by Divoom, a device which is described as the company’s “most intelligent pixel speaker.” The TimeBox has been one of the most entertaining gadgets I’ve played around with this year, but that distinction is not because of its performance as a Bluetooth speaker.
The TimeBox is billed as a portable Bluetooth speaker. It’s the right size, features Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, has a built-in battery (good for roughly 6 hours), and a single 3-inch full range speaker with a passive radiator that’s powered by a 5W DSP amplifier. It has prominent music control buttons across the top. There’s a built-in mic for taking hands-free voice calls.
As a Bluetooth speaker, it’s okay. It could put out a decent amount of bass for its size, and it can get loud enough for a small room without starting to get buzzy. It’s only $69.90 on Amazon, but even at that low price, I would expect to see at least dual drivers, a little more power, and longer battery life.
However, the Divoom TimeBox has a lot more up its sleeve, and it’s these extras that make it such a fascinating gadget.
First, it also has FM radio. As in old-school, honest to goodness FM radio, not internet streaming radio. You can record voice messages. There’s a temperature sensor. It works as an alarm clock.
But the showcase feature is its front face, which is a square grid of 121 programmable, multi-color LED lights. These aren’t just little bulbs, they’re square “gem” style, they’re bright, and they can be customized to display thousands of different colors.
With the LED panel and the accompanying app (iOS And Android), you can display a huge range of pixel art images from the gallery or have the TimeBox display simple animations. Better yet, you can create your own images and animations.
The LED panel also ties into other functions. For example, you can program the TimeBox to be a smart alarm, with gradually increasing music intensity and light brightness. You can use the TimeBox to display notification alerts for your social media accounts. Playing music? You can have the display accompany the music with animated visual effects that (mostly) keep time with the song. You can also play simple games with a retro, pixelated look.
The only complaint I really had was that the app wants you to create an account and then log in every time you use it. There’s a single button “log in as guest” option, so at least it’s not a requirement.
For playing music, the TimeBox doesn’t particularly stand out from the pack of inexpensive Bluetooth speakers. But when you throw in all the additional functionality—and especially the brilliant LED front panel—this is a fascinating gadget that is well worth the price. My kids have been all over it and every time someone plays around with it, they seem to find yet another new feature. Divoom promises that with app and hardware updates, the new features will keep coming.
Disclosure: Divoom provided a sample speaker for this review.