B&O BeoPlay P2: Australian Review

Bang & Olufsen's younger, funkier BeoPlay brand has really been kicking some goals recently; I haven't met a BeoPlay speaker that I haven't loved. The same is true even of this latest P2, a pint-sized USB-C-powered travel companion that makes perfect sense for anyone with a new Android phone to take with them in backpack or purse wherever they go. It sounds so much better than your phone's tinny speakers, but fits away in even the smallest bag.

What Is It?

The $249 BeoPlay P2 is a palm-sized speaker, measuring 140x80x28mm and weighing 275g. It's small, really -- around the profile of a modern 5-inch smartphone and three times as thick, although its curved body makes it seem a little sleeker. It has a USB-C port for charging or connecting directly to a PC to output audio and microphone, and that's it. Nothing more, nothing less -- just the essentials (although you might be one of those people that wants a 3.5mm port on a Bluetooth speaker; I'm not one of them).

And the BeoPlay P2 has one button. One. For power toggling, and for activating Bluetooth pairing so you can hook up a wireless source (up to two can be connected simultaneously, only one of which can actually play music or audio though). Everything else that the P2 does is controlled through a series of taps and shakes. A shake or a double tap will skip or pause tracks or change volume as you want it to -- these can be customised in B&O's BeoPlay app -- and an always-on microphone will pick up your voice anywhere in a large room for Google Assistant or Siri spoken commands.

What's It Good At?

Picture me: I've just checked into my hotel room in Taipei for Computex. I got a free upgrade: it's pretty nice. The bed is big, there's a bath. But it's quiet, and I'm on my own. Lame. Out comes the BeoPlay P2, volume to max. Put it on the desk, somewhere it'll reflect a bit of sound upwards. The latest Girl Trapz goes on, and my hotel room is filled with some pretty damn decent quality audio. Life is good. And all this from a speaker that's small enough to fit in your palm.

And despite its size, it has prodigious battery life. I clocked it hitting the 10-hour mark that B&O promises, and more, despite all those 10 hours spent smashing out dope bangers at close to full volume. Charging is quick, and done over USB-C -- a godsend for any traveller with a relatively new Android phone. And its microphone works over a wide space, so you can have it across a room and still speak to it without having to yell.

And throughout its volume range, the BeoPlay P2 manages to consistently produce sound that sounds good. It's a small speaker, to be sure, and it can't produce the deep bass nor the singing treble of a larger and more capable enclosure. What it can do, though, is output audio that has enough bass, and clear -- if not sizzling -- treble to sound impressive for its size, and to make the music you're listening to sound good. It handled everything from vocals to electronica to acoustic-guitar-driven tracks with aplomb.

What's It Not Good At?

You really need to have that BeoPlay app installed on your phone to get the most out of the P2 -- and this means it's really a little bit more at home being hooked up to a phone or tablet than it is to a laptop. When I first set up the P2, I didn't actually know how to change the volume, and on Android phones Bluetooth output volume is controlled independently of a speaker's own volume -- which meant diving into the app to pump up the jam. It's worth it, though, because you get to choose what you want the speaker to do -- double tap for voice control, double tap for play/pause, and so on.

For its size, which means for the volume of sound that you get, the BeoPlay P2 is expensive. You could get yourself a UE Boom 2 for the same price or less, which will be louder and have more bass to boot. For my particular mileage, having a small speaker that I can slide into a pocket or an empty zipper compartment on my backpack is the entire reason why I like the P2, but if you won't be travelling constantly you might want a speaker with more oomph for the same price. There's also no carry pouch.

Should You Buy It?

Do you need a properly portable -- that is, you can stick it in your pocket and take it anywhere you could take your phone -- Bluetooth speaker? One that can fill up a pretty decent sized room with pretty decent sound? I mean, it's not incredibly bassy or incredibly crisp in the treble department, but the $249 BeoPlay P2 is more than good enough to dance around to manically while nobody is watching.

It looks good, too, and it's very well constructed. B&O is very much a premium brand in the Bluetooth speaker world, and BeoPlay is its funky offshoot, and I've liked the A2 Active and A1 in the past for their sturdy built quality. Despite being smaller, the P2 is no less rugged -- and while its shake and tap controls are a little inscrutable to start with, they're actually pretty straightforward and also offer the option for some modern conveniences like Google Assistant voice control.

I took a bit of a gamble bringing the P2 with me on this trip because I hadn't actually heard what it sounded like before, and I'm a little bit discerning with my audio: if it sounded dull or anemic, I'd be genuinely annoyed that I wasted bag space on it. But it sounds great, and it's small, and it charges through the same port as my phones do -- and for those reasons all together, I'll be taking it on every work trip I make after this one is over.