Inateck’s MarsBox is an excellent portable Bluetooth speaker, in its cool-looking design, more than acceptable performance and loud audio, and in sheer value for money. However, it disappoints as an FM radio.
Inateck’s MarsBox Bluetooth speaker and FM radio is one of the best budget Bluetooth speakers we’ve seen, with a cool design and booming audio. Also see: Best budget Bluetooth speakers 2015.
You wouldn’t believe this speaker costs less than 50 quid (right now it’s £46.99 from Amazon). It’s made from plastic, but has a soft-touch matt finish that makes the MarsBox feel more expensive than it is.
All the internals are housed in a black rectangular box, and a red grille with a dot-matrix effect sits slightly offset at the front, wrapping around to the left side. This asymmetrical design is enhanced by four red rubberised buttons atop the speaker, and with minus and plus keys sat in between two circular controls it has a look reminiscent of a retro gamepad.
At full volume this 10W portable speaker is incredibly loud, with no distortion. It’s more than loud enough to cater to house parties, and easily up to the job. Two pads on the base hold it steady on any surface, no matter what tunes it’s rocking out.
We tried the Inateck with a range of music, from rock to classical and pop, and it handled all very well. Bass can at times be slightly muffled, but never tinny, and for the money you pay it’s difficult to find fault with the MarsBox.
You can pair the Inateck to a phone, tablet or laptop over Bluetooth 4.0, or use the AUX connection to physically hook up the pair. Inateck supplies braided USB and 3.5mm audio cables in a cool red, which match the appealing design of the MarsBox itself.
Connected to a smartphone over Bluetooth Inateck allows you to receive Bluetooth hands-free calls over the speaker. When the phone rings you can press the MarsBox’s multifunction button to answer, and when the call has finished music will automatically resume playback.
Using Bluetooth we found good range within the house, although the audio began to break up as we took our paired smartphone to the bottom of the garden.
Battery life is long, with Inateck promising between 10- and 15 hours of playback from the 2200mAh battery. Your mileage will depend on whether you physically or wirelessly connect the speaker to your device, and on how loud you turn up the volume.
If Inateck had left things at that we would have been quite happy with the MarsBox. But this portable Bluetooth speaker is also an FM radio, which is not especially common in budget Bluetooth speakers. Inateck says it supports FM stereo radio from 76- to 108MHz, adapted to most countries of the world. See all speaker reviews.
In our tests the FM radio didn’t meet expectations. Without attaching the Micro-USB cable (as instructed in the user guide to improve the signal) we couldn’t pick up any radio stations at all. With the cable we could pick up only Classic FM and BBC Radio 4 at our Hertfordshire home; even in our London office we could additionally hear only BBC Radio 2 and -3. You can forget about Capital, Heart, Radio 1 and the like. (Of course, it took us a while to work out which stations we were listening to, since there’s no LCD panel.)
If the range is this poor in the centre of England’s capital city, we can’t imagine it would be much improved elsewhere within the UK. Given that we wouldn’t choose to listen to any of the stations we could pick up on the MarsBox it has limited appeal as an FM radio.
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Inateck MarsBox BP2002: Specs
- 2x 5W drivers
- connects over Bluetooth 4.0 or AUX
- FM radio: 76-108MHz
- 2200mAh battery (10-15 hours life)
- 7.5W (5V/1.5A) Micro-USB charging port