Sony brings the noise to your outdoor BBQ with the XB501G

When you think hot fun in the summertime you rarely think about Sony. The venerable electronics company has had a rough go of it and they’ve recently rebuilt their image as a purveyor of great gear. My go-to travel headphones, a pair of Bose Quiet Comforts, have been replaced by the Sony WH-1000XM3, a set so surprisingly great that I gushed about them last year.

Now I’m here to report that the euphoniously-named XB501G EXTRA BASS Google Assistant built-in BLUETOOTH Speaker – let’s call it the XB501G – is another winner.

Priced at $248, this speaker connects to your phone or can hook up to your Wi-Fi via Google’s Home app. This gives you access to Google Assistant and, if you have Google Play or Spotify connected, you can ask this speaker to play playlists and albums.

The speaker offers full, rich sound indoors and out and it’s rugged enough to drag around the back yard during barbecues and parties. The case is 10.1 x 10 x 11.6 inches and it features a 16-hour battery and charging cable. It weighs 6.83 pounds and is very portable.

As you can see our test model has hung out outside for a bit and has survived condiments, grease, and sloppy hands with aplomb. It’s been a summer favorite.

The best part? This thing lights up like a Croatian disco. The lights on the side of the front panel glow in multiple colors in time with the music and bright LEDs along the top of the speaker flash and shimmer. It’s a fun effect that you can easily turn off with a single button press.

The speaker is a real delight and I don’t offer that praise lightly. It works well with any phone – Bluetooth is seamless – and the Google Assistant features are very convenient. The sound quality is what you’d expect from a Bluetooth speaker – not amazing but not bad – and bass response is solid. There aren’t many specific audio settings but there is a LIVE setting that simulates surround sound and built-in Chromecast lets you connect multiple speakers together for real multi-unit sound.

There are loads Bluetooth speakers out there. This is one of the best. It’s well worth the price and, if you’re looking for a fun way to play music at events and parties, we encourage you to check it out.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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