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In the flesh, the Bose SoundLink Revolve looks very small. But, like Bose's successful SoundLink Mini (originally reviewed in 2013), it promises features and performance to belie its petite dimensions.

This new portable Bluetooth speaker aims to deliver 360-degree sound to everyone in the room or garden, eliminating the need for a 'sweet spot'.

We've seen omnidirectional speakers already from companies such as B&O, Libratone and Ultimate Ears, and the Bose SoundLink Revolve (and its bigger brother, the Revolve+) is a welcome inclusion into this market. 

MORE: Bose SoundLink Revolve is a Bluetooth speaker with 360-degree sound

Design and build

The Revolve speaker is strikingly compact in person, and we can see it fitting into any space in your home. 

Its aluminium casing with rubber ends is sturdily built, and it has a sleek and sophisticated look to it. It doesn’t feel too heavy, either. The speaker is designed to be portable, after all, and is compact enough to be carried in a backpack or large handbag.

The SoundLink Revolve+ is bigger and heavier, and comes with a handle.

Both speakers are available in two colours: 'triple black' (black, basically) and 'lux grey' (silver).

The cylindrical design isn’t just on-trend with Amazon Echo and the recently announced Apple HomePod, either. It’s key to the Bose Revolve delivering its 360-degree sound.

Inside, Bose uses a full-range driver firing downwards into a patented diffuser plate, which spreads the sound out evenly. There’s also a pressure tap wedged between to minimise any distortion.

Bose says this allows Revolve to deliver a uniform sound that can be heard by everyone across the room, regardless of where the speaker or listener is positioned.

There are also two passive radiators inside, responsible for enhancing the lower frequencies. They’re placed opposite each other to cancel out any vibrations.

More after the break

Connectivity and features

The Revolve and Revolve+ speakers use Bluetooth 4.0 to allow easy streaming from a wide range of compatible products (smartphones, tablets, laptops).

For hard-wiring source players there is a 3.5mm auxiliary input, which we’re always happy to see.

The six buttons on top of the speaker let you switch between these two inputs, adjust volume, and turn power on and off. The soft-touch buttons are nice to press, and there are tiny LED indicators alongside them.

The most interesting bit is the multi-function button – the one with three dots. This lets you control music playback on the speaker, as well as accessing your smartphone’s voice assistant – all without touching your smartphone. Press it once to pause or play, double press to skip a track, and if you hold the button down, it activates Siri (or Google Assistant or Cortana) on your phone.

Battery life is a decent 12 hours for the Revolve, and 16 hours for the Revolve+. You can charge the speaker using the supplied micro-USB cable, or you can buy an optional charging cradle for £25.

Want more features? Connect two Revolve speakers and play them in tandem or as a stereo pair. The free Bose Connect app gives you full access to these features, and lets you check the speaker’s battery life and install software updates.

The Bose speaker is also designed to withstand knocks and drops, and is water-resistant - not waterproof - so it'll survive splashes of water and being out in the garden.

MORE: See all our Bose reviews

Sound quality

During our demo, the Revolve has no problem filling up a medium-sized room – and that is at two-thirds of its full volume.

For such a dinky speaker, the Bose Revolve delivers a surprisingly big and bold sound. We discover ample weight and punch at the lower end of the frequency range.

It does a decent job of spreading sound around the room evenly, too. Even as we move around the speaker, there doesn't seem to be any blind spots. The sound remainessolid and robust regardless of where we stand.

Voices are projected with plenty of detail and texture. The general tone of the speaker is enjoyable, and seems to enjoy plenty of rhythmic prowess.

The Revolve+, unsurprisingly, delivers a bigger, punchier sound than its smaller sibling.

In our brief demo, there are elements of the Revolve’s performance that don’t seem as focused or precise as they might, but this is a trade-off we’ve heard before with other omnidirectional speakers (such as the UE Megaboom, the Libratone Zipp and the B&O BeoSound 1).

Whether Bose delivers a better balance than current wireless speakers of a similar type is something we’re keen to ascertain when we get proper a review sample in our test rooms.

MORE: Best wireless speakers 2017

Initial verdict

There’s no shortage of portable Bluetooth speakers on the market, but the Bose SoundLink Revolve ticks all the right boxes – and then some – to potentially stand out from the rest. Its design and set of features is appealing, and it sounds promising.

Pricing is sensible, too. The Revolve is £200, while the Revolve+ costs £280.

Our first impressions were that these two Bose newcomers are pretty impressive. That makes us particularly keen to hear how they stack up against their rivals once we get samples in for a full review.

MORE: 8 of the best Bluetooth speakers

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Bose SoundLink Revolve
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