As always, the packaging for the products is efficient and simplistic. Inside the box I received was the 1byone Magic Music Plasma Ball and the necessary cables as well as a quick start guide. The cables provided were a simple aux cable and the USB cable to power it. Everything seems to be of a decent quality.
The layout of this speaker is really simple and intuitive. The back panel will the first panel that you interact with. The left hand side of the back panel has the 5V input jack which is actually just a standard micro USB cable that you would use for to charge your Android phone. The second port is the Aux in port allowing you to connect your laptop or iPod into the device directly as opposed to relying on Bluetooth. There is a TF card slot below, which means micro SD card for people such as myself who did not know what a TF card slot was, and the power switch. The on and off switch has three modes, off, on and M. Moving the switch to ON lets the plasma orb turn on and synchronize with the rhythm of the music that is being played, while moving the switch to M keeps the plasma ball on all the time.
The front panel is the next point of interest and it has a couple features to offer the user as well. The Mode Switch Button changes the display of the plasma ball, and the following three buttons all control the music. From left to right, they are Play/Pause, Previous/Vol-, and Next/Vol+. If you hold the previous button, it will lower the volume, whereas if you tap it, it will change the track to the previous track. This same rule applies to the Next/ Vol+ button.
The moment I plugged it in and turned it on, I was greeted with a loud beep. After that, I was able to quickly synchronize my HTC One M8 just by scanning for available Bluetooth devices. I was greeted with yet another loud beep, and then I played the last track that I listened to on my phone. I heard some extraneous hum that took away from the music. I plugged this speaker into my wall socket so I know it has a proper ground. This was a huge drawback to the device since I was excited to use it as a Bluetooth speaker. I then plugged it into my phone via the aux cable after disconnecting from the Bluetooth and played the same song again. There was no hum this time and the only factor that changed for me was the Bluetooth.
While the track was playing, I began playing with the crystal/magic ball itself. When you touch the orb, assuming that it is on, the plasma lights inside begin to follow your finger as it moves. I find it really cool and a fun aesthetic feature. Using the mode button on the front panel let me change the severity of the lights and how frequently they oscillated and moved around. I tried playing some beat heavy music and the plasma lights did in fact synchronize with the music itself. Using the on board buttons to switch music was seamless and instantaneous. There seemed to be no lag between my clicking on the speaker buttons, and the song changing, a factor I found to be quite impressive. Music Quality was also pretty good. It was better than I initially thought it would be, but it is not obviously not going to reach audiophile quality for below $30 bucks. The bass was punchy, but the mid and highs left something to be desired.
The last thing to note regarding the speaker is its physical height. The speaker is literally the same height as a standard 16 fluid oz. water bottle. This fact initially surprised me when I first put it together.
One thing I do wish the speaker had was its own battery source. If 1byone was somehow able to implement a rechargeable battery into this unit, it would make it ten times as convenient to have. I was able to connect it to my Anker 10,000 mAh power bank, and it did in fact power on and run effortlessly, but I wish it was wire free. The speaker as a whole is great, and had the Bluetooth feature worked, it would have been a stellar speaker. There is a pretty high chance that I got a defective unit since I had a proper ground, but only another unit can tell as to whether my assumption is correct.
EDIT: It seems when I plug in my phone to the speaker via the auxiliary cable, it negatively affects my touch screen and makes it act on its own. I use a stock HTC ONE M8 on 5.0 and this also happened with my roommates iPhone 6. I can’t figure out why this is happening, but I do not think I will use this speaker via the aux port.