When my kids see “Ellie” the Bluetooth Buddy Wireless Speaker appear on the counter they know they are in for a treat! Ellie runs from a Bluetooth enabled device and can read books (via streaming), stream music like Pandora for that early morning dance party. My first grader is working on his reading skills, and so we like to stream the books on tape via Ellie and he follows along in the story. We simply connect Ellie to our iPad use the “read to me mode” for stories. There are three animal Bluetooth Buddies – an elephant, a dog and a cat and they feature a re-chargeable lithium battery. My kids decided to name the speaker *a first* since we are in the naming phase and Elephant wasn’t a word my one year old had.
Out of the box, you have to charge the Bluetooth Buddy – it took about two hours the first time, so I would suggest charging it before showing it to your kids. I made that mistake and my son kept asking me when it would be ready. When the Buddy is charged, you can pair it and a blue and white light show up on the belly. When the Buddy is ready to be charged again, you will see a red flashing light which gives you plenty of warning before the Buddy runs out of charge.
We would open up a story on our device and Ellie stole the show. His mouth moves along with his hat and body as he read the story and puts lots of expression into it! Since we used the “read to me” versus the auto play mode we had to flip the pages, but the auto play mode keeps the story moving. I also loved that if you tapped on any words in the story and they were spoken, that the Bluetooth Buddy would repeat them back.
I found the range for Ellie quite good – and I explained to my son although she looked like a toy, in fact she was a mechanical speaker. I showed him that we could skip tracks, pair to other devices as well as go backwards and forwards when listening to music from his iPod. The Bluetooth Buddy Wireless Speaker was easy to pair and use, and my kids love it!
I recently tested out Ellie with a storybook app where I recorded the text and my son loved hearing the book in my voice – so that’s another option too! The battery lasts about six to eight hours – we don’t usually use it full blast and if you use the lower sounds the Buddy will last longer. The buddy even acts as a speaker for iPhone calls although I found that the person on the other end said I was “muffled” – so if you do get a call, it’s super easy to pick it up and not send it to voicemail.
In terms of enhancements, I do wish that the back part where you turn on and off the elephant was protected by a little more than the tail. It makes it easy for curious fingers to get inside and perhaps switch it off without meaning to. I’d also like to see the headphone adapter located somewhere else on the Buddy – perhaps on a shoulder or on the body of the Buddy so that you could quietly listen with headphones but not worry about turning it off by accident. Of note, I had some Bluetooth wireless headphones I wanted to use with my Buddy but was unable to do so since I needed to use the Bluetooth for the iPad to provide the content.
Overall, my kids love their Bluetooth Buddy and listening to music and stories. It’s important to remind them that it’s not a toy – but rather a speaker and may be best suited to older children who can understand that concept.
Bluetooth Buddy retails for approximately $50 USD and is available from iLiveElectronics
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
- Supports Bluetooth
- Built-in speaker
- Wireless range: 33 feet
- Motorized mouth and body sing and dance along to music
- Supports profile A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile)
- Supports automatic device reconnect
- Aux in (3.5mm audio input)
- Micro-USB port for battery recharge
- LED pairing indicator
- Charge indicator
- Pairing button
- Play/pause button
- Skip forward/back button
- Digital volume control
- On/off switch
- DC battery power: built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery
- Battery life: ~4 hours at 50% volume