There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to buying a wireless speaker. That can make finding the one that's right for you a little difficult. Most of us want the same thing when we're buying a speaker — the right balance between cost, features and sound quality. Vizio comes in with the right mix of each with its Crave Go Wireless speaker.
At first glance, the Crave Go looks like other high-end speakers on the market. You have a rounded corner rectangle, a stately two-tone silver and black exterior, all propped up with a built-in kickstand on the back. It's clearly designed to serve its purpose without looking out of place in most any setting. And while the Crave Go is a great size to carry along on an outing, it would also look right at home in your living room or bedroom.
The sliver and soft-black rubber finish looks great and should hold up well.
A look at the rear shows the inputs for power and auxiliary cable, a USB output to use it as a charger for other devices, and the power switch. The rest of the controls are on the right side, which is convenient as they would be difficult to reach while in use had they been positioned near the kickstand. There you'll find the Bluetooth pairing button, a volume rocker, and play/pause buttons. One thing I noticed is that the controls are spaced far enough apart that you can easily operate the speaker in the dark or without lifting it up to look at the buttons themselves.
The best feature of the Crave Go is wireless support through Chromecast or Vizio's SmartCast Mobile app. The speaker is a full-fledged Chromecast Audio device which means it is capable of use in a multi-room setup. In case you're not aware of how this works, once your Crave Go is set up on your Wi-Fi network you can stream audio from any Chromecast enabled app directly to the speaker without going through your phone. You can also start listening through Google Home or Google Assistant. I found the Chromecast feature to work just as well as it does with Google's own Chromecast Audio products, including multi-room setup.
Of course, you can also use the Crave Go as a traditional Bluetooth speaker for the times you're on the go. Pair it with your phone and you can send audio out to it like you would any standard Bluetooth speaker — the Wi-Fi abilities don't interfere with Bluetooth operation in any way. I found the Bluetooth connection nice and strong, with a range of about 35-40 feet before any noticeable stuttering or pausing. On the go, I was able to use the speaker for about 4.5 hours (less than the advertised six hours) before it needed to be plugged in.
Bluetooth while on-the-go and Google cast at home makes the Crave Go a double-duty device.
One pain point I did come across was the initial Wi-Fi setup. The Vizio SmartCast app was able to set up the speaker on my Wi-Fi network, but it never fully finished up to allow me to cast to the device using the Android version. I had no such problems with the iOS version of the SmartCast app. This was easily rectified by using the Google Home app to assign the speaker its name and could then send music out just as expected. This could be because of my network or the phones I tried, but in any case, it's worth a mention. As is the fix.
In a word, excellent.
The Crave Go is advertised as being able to output volume up to 88 decibels and frequencies as low at 75 Hz. That translates into a loud stream of audio with big booming bass, which the speaker certainly does deliver. Over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you'll be able to play music or any other audio at levels that border on uncomfortably loud without any crackle or distortion, and you really can feel a hint of the chest-pounding bass you experience from bigger and more expensive speakers.
With the volume at full on the speaker itself and adjusted through my phone while casting, I was able to get the right amount of sound to fill a small or a large room as well as get everyone in the backyard toe-tapping and singing along while using it outdoors for a cookout.
You won't have any complaints about how the Crave Go sounds, and that's because it sounds damn good.
The Crave Go lists for $199, but it's on sale at Amazon (at the time of this writing) for $149. You can find plenty of Bluetooth speakers for a lot less. But this is not just another Bluetooth speaker.
I would buy this, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a great wireless speaker.
The excellent sound quality puts it above most Bluetooth speakers on the market, and the ability to also use it as an at-home Wi-Fi speaker with Google cast separates it from almost every other portable speaker out there. When you do find a speaker that sounds good and offers support for Wi-Fi play through Google Cast, you'll see that the price isn't out of line.
I have a bit of collectoritis when it comes to speakers and other audio products. When I find a good one, I'll buy it even if I don't need it. the Crave Go is a good one, and I'd totally buy it. I'll also recommend it to anyone else.
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