One of the features that’s increasingly made an appearance in Bluetooth speakers is a USB out port with the ability to top up a smartphone’s battery. It’s a good idea, especially with a portable speaker that’s often used where there’s nowhere handy to charge the smartphone that’s streaming the music.
The HMLink Bluepot turns that concept on its head. This is a 10,000mAh portable power bank with the capacity to recharge an iPhone 8 five times. And it has Bluetooth connectivity, with a pair of built-in speakers.
RESONADO is a startup founded by four University of Notre Dame students that focuses on audio. So what does that have to do with power banks? The answer lies in the company’s patented Flat Magnetic Speaker Technology (FMS). Standard drivers take up a lot of space, but RESANADO’s FMS tech means effective speakers can be added to products that would normally lack the physical space. So they stuck a pair of 3-watt FMS speakers (plus a “pseudo speaker” for bass response) in a power bank: the HMLink Bluepot.
The net result is a power bank that measures 2.8 x 5.4-inches, with a thickness of just under one inch and weighing 9.5 ounces. That’s pretty much average sized for a portable power bank of this capacity.
As mentioned, the Lithium Polymer battery can charge an iPhone 8 five times; if used as a speaker (connectivity via Bluetooth 4.1), that translates into roughly 50 hours of play time from the dual 3-watt speakers. There are two full-sized USB ports with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 support. You can even charge and play music simultaneously.
Appearance is nondescript: a rounded rectangular box made of white plastic with ports and blue LED indicators for battery level and Bluetooth connectivity. The primary visible difference between it and similar capacity power stations is the HMLink Bluepot is a tad larger (still small enough to slip in a pocket or purse) and a speaker grill cutout on the top surface.
The audio output of the HMLink Bluepot is on par with some of the ultra-compact Bluetooth speakers in my collection—despite the fact that it’s smaller and built around a battery instead of being designed as a portable speaker. This is not going to replace your home stereo, but it’s not meant to. The audio doesn’t have much depth and starts to distort at high volume settings, but it can get surprisingly loud and the output is quite energetic: neither muffled nor tinny. The FMS technology is really quite impressive.
The $49.99 HMLink Bluepot isn’t going to replace a dedicated wireless speaker. But it offers the just-in-case battery backup that is always useful for mobile devices, and having a decent Bluetooth speaker as part of the bargain is a bonus. You never know when you might want to play some music, and when your portable speaker is sitting at home on a shelf, you can pull out this power bank to save the day.