Stellé Audio is a company that has burst into the wearable tech market with a mind for fashion and a keen eye on making sure their products reach more than just your standard tech junkie. With watches grabbing headlines as of late, Stellé Audio has not forgotten about the non-watch wearing community, and more specifically, has a product aimed at the fashion-minded ladies in the tech world that are not wooed by bulky wrist-wear. Instead, Stellé Audio has a practical accessory used by a majority of women but with an incredible amount of technology and added functionality: the Mini-Clutch Speaker.
We were fortunate enough to meet up with co-owners Anna Perelman and Wayne Ludlum at CES this year where they had been awarded the Innovations Design and Engineering Awards Honoree in 2014 for both the Mini-Clutch as well as another product, their Audio Pillar speakers, and they very kindly sent us a sample to test out. I’ve had my hands on the Mini-Clutch for about a week and have put it through the ringer, let’s see how it did.
The Stellé Audio Mini-Clutch Speaker currently comes in three different designs – Dazzling Diamond, Blue Love, and Metallic Purple. We had the Metallic Purple to review, however all the speakers have the same specs aside from their outward appearance.
- Six-watt stereo digital amplifier
- Stereo speaker system with two 1-inch full range drivers and bass radiator
- Built-in microphone for speakerphone capabilities
- Bluetooth® wireless range of up to 50 feet
- Auxiliary Input for connectivity to non-Bluetooth devices (cable included)
- Removable chain link strap for use as a shoulder bag or cross-body purse wear (strap included)
- Interchangeable bangle for wristlet wear (bangle included)
- 15-hour Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery
- USB port for emergency charging, like your smartphone
- Mini-USB port for internal charging (USB to mini-USB cable included)
- 6.4″ wide, 4.3″ tall, 2.9″ in diameter
- 1.3 lbs.
The Metallic Purple Mini-Clutch has performed admirably after a week of use. It was packaged very thoroughly, even with the thin plastic lining around all of the gold trim, so I was initially worried about regular wear-and-tear, getting dinged on doors and corners as a regular purse would. It appears that those worries were for naught so far as the sides remain unmarred, the tech still performs perfectly, and the purple fabric has magically not picked up any pet hair. And believe me when I tell you, with having two cats around, that is magic.
The button that opens the clutch is big out of necessity as the spring on it is rather tight. While it probably makes for good security so you aren’t worried that your clutch is going to bust open and spill all of your things, especially as it gets worn out over time, it’s a little tough to manage at first. The button is designed to be pushed up as you pull each side apart, anyone experiencing thumb and possibly wrist issues might not be so keen on the mechanics, however it seems like a fairly standard clasp for the regular clutch world.
Both the USB and mini-USB ports as well as the auxiliary-in are all located on the bottom of the clutch. Looks-wise, this is great placement as it doesn’t interrupt the overall design of the purse. Function-wise, it’s a little more tricky as the purse can’t be stood up easily to allow the cables to be connected and be upright, so out of necessity the purse gets put on its side, angling the speakers at potentially a less-optimal position. Unfortunately the little feet are not tall enough to even support an elbowed auxiliary cord. But if you’re diligent about keeping it charged or don’t end up wanting to listen to it while it charges, it could be a moot point.
As for the wristlet concept, it’s pretty par for the course in the clutch world. Having the ability to choose over the shoulder vs. hanging on the wrist is nice and gives flexibility in outfit choices and can make the clutch fit just about every occasion from a girls night out to a fancy dinner event. However, in the Mini-Clutch’s case, the wristlet is not a terribly viable option. Given the size of the purse, its inability to collapse at all, and being over a pound, it’s just a weight at the end of a heavy duty bracelet. You pack your phone, some purse necessities in there and suddenly your purse has turned into a technologically advanced beating device that can play your enemy’s song of demise as you obliterate them with your clutch. Then you can call your assistant and use the speakerphone to direct them on where to pick up and dispose of the body. Probably not in the top 100 ideas on how to use the Mini-Clutch, but if someone ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, it wouldn’t be unfeasible in my mind.
Honestly, there isn’t much software to speak of. When you turn on the speakers you are greeted with an accented female voice saying “Hello,” and then shortly thereafter say “Paired successfully” once the Mini-Clutch finds your Bluetooth device. Working with a Samsung Galaxy S5, it takes a matter of seconds and there is no fuss on the phone end of things.
When you receive a call, the same voice will notify you that a call is incoming, announce the number, and you can take it on speakerphone through the Mini-Clutch, or you can turn the clutch off or disconnect the Bluetooth to answer from your phone directly. If you’re playing music it will pause while the call goes on and when it’s over the music will resume. There’s also a setting in the Bluetooth function on your device that should give you the option to only use for media audio or only use for phone audio, so you can rid yourself of phone call interruptions during your favorite jams.
The volume was impressive, and the Mini-Clutch is definitely well equipped to handle all of your Top-40 listening needs at full volume. I was able to hear it two rooms away, which spanned over 50 feet and around a corner. For such a little package they definitely blew me away.
Now, if you’ve got more of an eclectic taste, be mindful of bass-heavy jams and volume, while the 1-inch speakers performed admirably to the high and mid-range notes at top volume, the bass was definitely a deal-breaker. At normal volumes the bass did fine, it’s certainly not going to jam your dub-step at a rave, but if you aren’t trying to blow the speakers you can listen to just about anything at a reasonable volume. Obviously there isn’t a dedicated bass speaker, but considering the size and comparable docks and other mini-speakers, it performed well within the “as expected” range.
The Bluetooth link was seamless. The calls were clear through the Mini-Clutch with no crackling or other audio disturbances. The audio quality on the callers line was fairly standard for a speakerphone, clear but definitely sounded like you were on speakerphone. I didn’t really test this out in too many scenarios, like in public around noisy traffic, or anything like that. But, realistically, I wouldn’t be using speakerphone there anyway. In the car, at home, and other places I’m comfortable making calls the speakerphone worked great. I’m not holding a Mini-Clutch on my shoulder with speakerphone on and then blaring music for all to suffer through while I ride public transport. Maybe that’s just me, though.
I rolled the Mini-Clutch right out of the box and turned that baby on first thing, no charging at all. It lasted several hours of on and off and connecting and un-connecting to Bluetooth and phone calls and music and music and phone calls and I didn’t have an issue. The purse charged overnight with no issues and I couldn’t use it enough during the day to run it out fully. Of course, it’s new and all new batteries work great but the degradation of the battery life over time will very much depend on how well the user takes care not to leave the Mini-Clutch exposed to extreme temperatures and, naturally, how often it is used.
If I had to throw a mostly un-educated guess, assuming usage was less than your cell phone, and your cell phone battery can usually last between 1-2 years without significant deterioration, I’d probably at least double that for the Mini-Clutch’s useful life. Perhaps more, again all depending on usage. If it’s just a out-on-the-town kind of deal, you’ll probably get it to stretch out for several years before you notice any significant drop in power but if you’re rocking out every night it’ll probably be much shorter. I am not a battery doctor, nor do I play one on TV.
The Mini-Clutch is a hard case wrapped in the metallic purple fabric with gold trim and gold rubber buttons. The contents inside the clutch seem to be rather well protected, and any dropping or getting hit hard against something is likely more concerning for the speaker and electronics natively inside the clutch.
The buttons to control power, volume, Bluetooth, and phone calls seem sturdy in the pushing part of the deal, but the edges of the lettering seem to already be succumbing to wear and tear and scratches seem to appear but can be rubbed away. I have no idea what kind of witchery was used to create that effect, definitely a good follow-up question.
The inside is obviously half used by the speakers and electronics, leaving you half of the clutch to put your things into. Purportedly, it will hold an iPhone 6 (5.44″ tall, 2.64″ wide, .27″ width), though I did not have one to test out. The Samsung Galaxy S5 was just a hair too long and too wide, unfortunately, though the S3 mini fit in rather comfortably even with a rubber case on. There was room to spare for other small necessities, but it’s definitely not going to hold items on the mom-purse level.
The Mini-Clutch comes with a cleaning cloth for the spectacular mirror that serves as the thing that keeps the handy electronic bits in place inside the clutch. You get a USB to mini-USB cable that’s about 2.5 feet, an auxiliary-in cable that is also 2.5 feet. The matching shoulder strap that is about 4.5 feet, and a hard plastic wrist bangle with Stellé written all around it. It literally comes with everything you need, which is fantastic. The cords aren’t terribly heavy duty but they’re not cheap either. If you’re like me and not a fan of the wristlet idea, you just got a neat bracelet that matches your purse. Who doesn’t love that? The cleaning cloth is a nice touch and can be used to clean glasses and sunglasses, assuming it doesn’t get lost in the first week you own it.
As previously mentioned, the Stellé Audio Mini-Clutch Speaker comes in three different designs, and the Dazzling Diamond look will run you $199 before taxes. The other two designs, Blue Love and the Metallic Purple both are $149 before taxes.
Now, as a person working in a professional environment on a daily basis that is not a fashionista, I can see and have seen instances where the Mini-Clutch will be useful in my life – fancy tech to show off, a useful clutch that can be dressed up with or just utilized as a fancy accent to normal business attire, etc. I can also see how useful it would be on party nights. When going to my friends place to get ready and pre-game, we’re usually using some dock station speakers that we have to put relatively close to the rooms we’re using. We can now instead use the Mini-Clutch as both entertainment and a purse for the actual going out part. The Mini-Clutch also provides convenient jams for when you’re out and about, the list goes on. Surely this all came to the minds of the people who developed the device.
Initially the price point was deterring. I’m not a huge accessory person, and while I know $150 is a drop in the bucket comparatively to other tech investments or even other name-brand clutches, it’s still an investment in my mind. However, the utility of the Mini-Clutch is far more than just a mobile speaker inside a fancy purse. If you look online for on-the-go mobile device chargers or extra batteries, you’re looking at spending anywhere from $10 to a few hundred dollars, depending on what level you are looking for.
Add to that total a dock for your phone or portable speakers and, again, you’re looking at dropping $10 to several hundred dollars. Throw a fancy, middle-of-the-road name-brand purse in there, say something like $50-100 dollars. Plus individual cords and cables, maybe some batteries, a cute bracelet to match your purse, and suddenly $150 doesn’t sound terribly unreasonable. What’s more, you’re also not carrying around a pile of junk everywhere in some giant totebag. Instead, all of that is wrapped up in a very stylish and savvy looking clutch that could double as a person repellent if you really needed it to. But mostly it looks really nice and is rather neat.
I had a great time playing with some new technology, especially something I might not have otherwise gone out and bought for myself. If you’re looking for some mobile speakers, you like cute little clutches, and don’t have a phone that’s bigger than an iPhone 6, I would definitely recommend the Stellé Audio Mini-Clutch. It’s a unique piece of technology that is fun, classy, and definitely stands out in the crowd.
If you’d like to see more of what Stellé Audio has to offer, visit their website to see new products and read about the Newport Beach, CA based company and what they’re doing next to define the next generation of fashion technology. Also keep an eye on Techaeris for our review of the Stellé Audio Pillar speaker in the near future.