Philips EverPlay BT3900P review
Philips is a well-known brand in the audio community, regarded as offering great audio in a sleek package. Is this still the same for the company’s budget range? We’ve got our hands on the Philips EverPlay BT3900P, the latest budget speaker from the company to put through its paces with mixed results. Carry on reading our review to find out why.
Pricing and availability
Before we get into the review, let’s quickly discuss pricing and availability. The Philips EverPlay will set you back £59.99/$59.99 and is available from Amazon in the UK, and Target in the US. While this is a decent price for a Bluetooth speaker, it’s only £10 cheaper than Denon’s budget speaker which we rated very highly in our Denon Envaya Pocket review.
Design and build
If the Philips EverPlay has anything going for it, it has to be in the design department because it’s an eye-catcher, even in a market with more speakers than we’ve had hot dinners. The philosophy behind the design seems to focus on it lightweight and portable, something that Philips EverPlay has achieved with an impressively slim and light-weight form-factor.
Specifically, the speaker weights a rather dainty 210 grams and measures in at 16.6 x 8.6 x 2.2cm. If that doesn’t mean much to you, it essentially means that the speaker is compact enough to slip into a jacket pocket without a noticeable bulge, or without it weighing down your pockets.
Moving on from the overall build, the first thing you’ll notice is the ‘DuraFit’ fabric mesh that covers most of the front of the speaker, while the bottom is made from plastic and features grippy feet to keep the speaker in place. The design of the fabric is admittedly rather unique, and there are four colour options to choose from: Pink, Black, Blue and White.
It also features IP57 water and dust resistance which while not the best, should be more than enough for the odd jaunt at the park or at the beach. It’s worth noting that Philips advises you stop playing music and let the speaker dry if it does get wet, so it’s not quite as durable as some of the other options in our best budget Bluetooth speaker chart.
There’s also an LED battery indicator to represent current battery life level in 25 percent increments. It’s handy to know how much battery the speaker has left!
The included USB cable features an intuitive design. Rather than simply bundling in a microUSB cable in the box (which are impossible to keep track of!), it can be attached directly to the speaker as it doubles up as the speaker strap. This means that you won’t ever need to hunt the cable down to charge it, but it also means that the strap isn’t waterproof like the rest of the speaker – something to keep in mind when out and about.
You’ll also note that there are physical media control buttons available on the front of the speaker, making it easy to change songs and adjust the volume without fiddling around with the source device.
Let’s talk briefly about the features of the speaker because admittedly, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles available on other budget speakers. First up, and rather obviously, the Philips EverPlay supports Bluetooth compatibility, but it also offers a 3.5mm port for those that want to hard-wire the speaker to their output device.
You’ll also find a built-in microphone for answering calls on the go and provides the ability to interact with Siri or Google without using your iOS or Android smartphone, although Hey Siri and Hello Google support isn’t on offer. To use Siri or Google Assistant, you simply hold the phone icon on the front of the speaker.
In terms of battery life, we managed to get around 8 hours of usage on a single charge, although it depends on other factors like speaker volume. It doesn’t take too long to charge up either; we found that we’d get a full charge in around an hour and a half.
Let’s talk audio, starting with what we liked. First up, the volume syncs with input device rather than having two volume controls (from the source and from the speaker). This makes it easier to use, as any changes made on the speaker will be applied to the output of the device too, and vice versa. It essentially means that when you turn the volume on the speaker up full, it really is at full volume.
But overall, the Philips EverPlay is more focused on design and portability than audio quality. While the build of the speaker is gorgeous, and we love the small form factor, it sacrifices audio – the main purpose of a speaker – to make it possible. You’ll find a single speaker 4-watt output for the entire audio range, which makes playback a little muddy and it’s not quite as loud as we’d expected it to be.
It’s also more focused on the treble, with practically no base to be heard/felt with most tracks that we played. It’s easy to pick up on the anti-clipping function – especially at higher volumes as you hear segments dip, although it does do its job to reduce distortion.
Essentially, it’s good for vocals, but when it comes to more intense, bass-heavy songs, the EverPlay falls over – and that’s a bit of a shame really.
SHOULD I BUY PHILIPS EVERPLAY BT3900P?
The Philips EverPlay is one of the best-looking budget Bluetooth speakers on the market, featuring gorgeous DuraFit fabric mesh protecting the speaker from water damage and an incredibly small form-factor. But while the dainty design of the speaker is great, it’s also the biggest downside. Why? It seems Philips prioritised design over audio quality with the EverPlay as it’s a little disappointing in the audio department with flat bass and a slightly aggressive anti-clipping function.