Given the sub-standard speakers on most smartphones these days, it’s no wonder that there are literally hundreds of portable Bluetooth speaker options out there. Our Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 review takes a look at a small rugged looking and weatherproof Bluetooth speaker to see if it has sound to match.
The Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 has the following features and specifications:
- Waterproof, shockproof, “everything proof”
- Floats in water
- Built-in power bank
- Hands-free speakerphone
- True wireless stereo pairing
- Universal mount
- Waterproof rating: IP67
- Wireless Range: 100 feet
- Battery Life: 16 hours
What’s in the box
- Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth speaker
- AC Adapter
- Micro-USB cable
- 3.5mm AUX Cable
- Quick Start Guide
- Warranty Information
There’s no question that the Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth speaker has a rugged look to it. Roughly 6 ½” wide with angled top and bottom edges, the speaker is about 2 ½” in height and just over 2 ¼” in depth. The entire speaker is covered with a thin black rubber layer with an inset rectangular design. There are four circular hard plastic nobs on both the front and back which allow for some extra cushioning if the speaker is dropped on the front or back face. Underneath this is the main blue rubber piece that covers the actual speaker. Inset into the blue on one side is the Altec Lansing logo, while the main control buttons — power, minus, and plus —rest on the top of the speaker.
Both the front and back of the speaker are covered with a speaker grille. The Altec Lansing logo is also inset on a plate in the middle of the front of the speaker with a blue LED indicator light visible above it when the speaker is on. The back of the speaker has no branding but on the left-hand side is a rubber cover under which the Micro-USB charging port, 3.5mm audio port, and a full-sized USB charging port are protected. The Micro-USB port is used to charge the speaker while the full-sized USB port can be used to charge your smartphone, tablet, or other device.
Finally, the bottom of the speaker has a ¼” universal mount hole centered on the bottom. Altec Lansing has also included a mount with the speaker. The mount consists of a U-shaped metal piece, a flat piece, the mount itself, and an adjustment piece. Once assembled, it can be attached to bike handles, a railing on a yacht (as per the instructions), or other smaller tube-shaped item. The Mini Life Jacket 3 can then be attached to the mount for secured, on-the-go music enjoyment.
Ease of Use
The Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth speaker is as easy to use as most other Bluetooth speakers. When you first power it on, a voice prompt informs you that the speaker is on. You can then pair it with your smartphone or other Bluetooth device and begin streaming music to it. Once on, pressing the power button plays or pauses the current track, as well as answers or ends a call. The minus and plus buttons control volume and long holding either of these will skip to the next or previous track. Finally, pressing the power button twice will enable the Google Voice Assistant, and presumably Siri if you’re on an iOS device.
While we were unable to test it due to only having one unit, if you pair one Mini Life Jacket 3 to your smartphone, you can then press the plus and minus buttons on a second Mini Life Jacket 3 or other compatible Altec Lansing Bluetooth speaker to connect the speakers and play music over them at the same time.
Even though the front and back of the Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth speaker are covered with speaker grilles, the majority of the sound is projected forward out of the front. For a small speaker, this one is indeed quite loud. While it is fairly clear at full volume, bass tends to get a bit muddied and sometimes distorted depending on the type of music you’re listening to. I found that 80-85% volume — which for the most part was plenty loud enough — was the threshold for not hearing any distortion or muddiness.
That out of the way, for the most part, the Mini Life Jacket 3 is a pretty decent sounding speaker at volumes up to the aforementioned levels. While it could use a bit more bass, it’s fairly balanced and most genres of music sounded decent enough.
Altec Lansing boasts a 100-foot wireless range with the Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth speaker. This, of course, depends on line of sight. During testing, the speaker managed to stay connected to my phone pretty much anywhere I might be on the same floor. I had no issues with the speaker continuing to play wherever I was in the back yard either. As a test I left my phone on the front porch of my house and walked up the street with the speaker. While it most likely wasn’t 100 feet before the speaker started to lose signal, it was definitely a lot further than the standard 33 feet of most Bluetooth enabled devices.
As far as call quality goes, as with most Bluetooth speakers we’ve tested here at Techaeris, the closer you are to the speaker, the easier it is for the other party to clearly hear you.
Again, Altec Lansing is touting up to 16 hours on a single charge with this small Bluetooth speaker. As we’ve mentioned before, battery life definitely depends on the volume you listen to it at. When listening to the speaker between 50-75% volume for the majority of the time, we were able to get between 14 ½ and just over 16 hours of music in before needing to recharge. Depending on your plans, this should definitely be enough to get you through the weekend in most cases.
As mentioned previously, the Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth speaker also has a full-sized USB port which can also be used to recharge your smartphone or other devices. Of course, this will have an impact on battery life for music listening but it’s still a decent feature to have.
The Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth speaker has an MSRP of $99.99USD/$129.99CAD. Even though we encountered some audio quality issues when listening to the speaker at full volume, the added rugged build quality, IP67 rating, and included mount more than make up for it and offers a pretty good value for the price.
The Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 is a small, rugged, weatherproof Bluetooth speaker with a long lasting battery and decent enough sound for most listening cases.
*We were sent a sample of the Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 for the purposes of this review.
Last Updated on November 18, 2017.
Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3$99.99 USD
Ease of Use10.0/10
- Rugged design
- Small, lightweight
- Clear, loud sound for the most part
- Universal mount on bottom
- Includes a bar mount
- Long battery life
- Waterproof, dustproof, floats
- Doubles as USB power bank
- Bass distorts at full volume
- Need to be fairly close for the other party in a call to hear you