Provisional Product Review And Old Man Rant

My desk is a chaotic rat’s nest; computer cables, pens, pencils, binoculars, earplugs, hard drives, papers, books, calculators, coffee cups, spent ammunition (I don’t even have that caliber do I?), screwdrivers, a wrench (why the hell is there a wrench under the keyboard?), etc. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to clean that shit up.

A first step is to eliminate a 15-year-old speaker system that has outlasted a half dozen computers since it’s initial purchase. It sports an octopus-like network of wires that go from the laptop’s headphone jack to a powered subwoofer from there to a manual volume control dial from there to a left speaker and from there to right speaker and eventually to an AC plug… and probably elsewhere too. No speaker’s wires should form a run on sentence. It doesn’t like Skype, the cables are usually wrapped around my USB hub, and the subwoofer is perpetually underfoot.

Time for something more svelte. I don’t care about high fidelity so why am I allowing an old speaker set to monopolize valuable desk space? I bought this (image is a link):

It’s small, battery-operated, and supposedly works on Bluetooth. No more wires! Charge it every now and then and fuhgeddaboudit. All hail the marketplace for it provides our deepest desires. This is exactly what I want!

So happy Curmudgeon drops 25 bucks to fulfill part of his New Year’s resolution. It arrived yesterday and I was psyched. Fuck yeah! What’s to worry?

Here’s where the promise of modern technology turns in to a circular firing squad of overcomplicated/underflexible suck. I plugged it in, charged up, pressed the on button and…


Goddamnit! This is why I hate buying new stuff. I want problems solved, not problems created! I’m plenty good at creating problems all by myself. It’s supposed to turn on and announce itself the invisible Bluetooth ecosystem that surrounds us. Did that happen? No!

My laptop is supposed to detect this amazing new device that is supposed to improve my life. It’s looking. “Hello, is there anybody out there?” But the speaker’s not turning on. Thus my laptop is just listening to nothing; like a small scale SETI praying for a remote speaker to announce itself.

Here’s the part that really burns my biscuit; there’s not a goddamn thing I can do about it.

In the old days of coal-fired computers and cars with carburetors you could do something when shit didn’t work. Open the hood and poke around there with the screwdriver, tweak settings, hit the fucker the mallet, reverse the polarity on the tricorder, you name it; there was always something you could do.

Not so with modern devices. There are five rubberized buttons. I may press the buttons. I may refrain from pressing the buttons. That’s the sum total of my influence over the situation.

Therefore my official stance is the following:

The Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker with 24-Hour Playtime, 66-Foot Bluetooth Range & Built-in Mic, Dual-Driver Portable Wireless Speaker with Low Harmonic Distortion and Superior Sound – Black is a raging piece of shit that should be set on fire then buried in a swamp.

Yes, I deliberately used those search terms in hopes that someone at Anker (ideally a marketer) loses their wings and/or has to go to bed without supper.

I also called their helpline, was put on hold, and was prompted to give a callback number. I was told I’d be called when my number in the queue came up. If that happened and if the tech support solved the problem: “All you need to do is press the button while hopping on one foot and humming Greensleeves” then all would be forgiven.

They haven’t called back. I’m still pissed. I hope I’m shaving 0.0001% off their global sales.

Update: I called their tech support a second time. (They never called back like they said they would.) I got an actual human being. The diagnostic process was a bit insulting but understandable and it was quick:

“Did you charge it?”

“Yes, overnight on a powered USB hub.”

“Did you press the ‘on’ button?”


“What happened?”


“What’s the blue light doing?”

“There is no blue light. I have never seen this device emit a blue light.”

“You got a dud. We’re sending a replacement. You’ll get it in 5 days or so.”

So that’s that. The Amazon reviews say it’s a great device. Who knows? At least the company is trying to make it right. I’m updating my review:

I purchased an Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker. Straight out of the box it was missing the magic blue light of functionality. A replacement is on the way. The replacement will determine whether my customer experience is mildly peeved followed by mollification or I spend the next month ranting about the good old days when a man could fix a broken speaker with a soldering iron.

About AdaptiveCurmudgeon

Adaptive Curmudgeon is handsome, brave, and wise.
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12 Responses to Provisional Product Review And Old Man Rant

  1. Mark Matis says:

    Oh come on now – the problem is obvious.

    They forgot to put the “W” on it.

  2. Bruce says:

    Sounds like a shithole to me,

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      What? The desk? Yeah it is. I’m workin’ on it.

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      OMG! Is this in reference to the epic trolling that’s going on? Brilliant! I had no idea about the matter when I first responded. So much fun stupidity and I don’t always keep up.

  3. JC says:

    Never own a product with a sticker saying “No User Serviceable Parts Inside”. I actually considered getting it as a tattoo, but discovered I was wrong. And I couldn’t read it in the mirror anyway.

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      It gets worse than that. I wanted a very simple thing, a speaker with minimal wires. But in order to get that I was almost forced to accept one with a microphone. That’s right, it would have cost more and been a bigger hassle to find a device without an embedded snitch-eriffic goddamn microphone. Obviously I’ll turn it off via software but what does that really mean? Unless I can find a soldered connection to sever or something similar I’ll never really know for sure it’s not listening. (Which is a lot like the microphone in my laptop. It “indicates” it’s off but for all I know it’s not.) I don’t have anything to hide but I hate that I can’t get a speaker that’s absolutely nothing more than a speaker. What happened to KISS?

  4. Never buy a battery run speaker system. They do not have enough oomph and I have never met any that actually run worth shit. Return it.
    Buy something like this:

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      I’ve had bad luck so far but I’m still hoping for something small and wireless. The stuff you linked to is superb but more than I need.

      My goal is to free up desk real estate and eliminate cables. (And be cheap.) It’s “get your shit together season after all”. Audio is, ironically, not a big deal so long as it’s not appalling. When I listen to music it’s not at my desk and much of the time I keep my computer on mute (I’m weird like that). For years I subsisted on the laptop speaker (which sucks). I’m still grumbling about needing audio at all. (That’s the “Curmudgeon” part winning out over “Adaptive”.)

      What finally prompted me to install the cord-a-palooza speaker set was a series of instructional videos. The laptop speaker wasn’t good enough. 15 year old speakers sounded fine but I got frustrated with all the cables. I thought “a speaker the size of a mouse would be ideal” and promptly ordered what turned out to be a factory dud. You may be thinking of basking in the soundtrack for “2001: A Space Odyssey” but I’ll probably be listening to lectures about herbicides.

      In a perfect world I’d find what I wanted and it would be dirt cheap. Sufficient audio for a clear voice and a handy “off” button. (What’s faster than a “mute click”? An “off” button!) I already got all “keep off my lawn” when I found out many speakers come with a microphone. The horrors! I can (grudgingly) live with it only because my laptop already has a microphone that’s probably spying on me. (My dog thinks I’m getting weak on OPSEC.) There’s a reason marketers hate me. How about a speaker that does other “desk crap” duties? A built in pencil sharpener or stapler? Sized like a trivet to hold my coffee cup? A mouse that’s a speaker too… nah that would be muffled. None of these are cool but they’d suit me fine.

      There’s no getting around it, I have no class and marketers hate me.

  5. terrapod says:

    I am really surprised you did not do the “slam it hard on the table” reset. A loose connector inside is all it would take to brick the unit. Then again, I have opened “not user serviceable” stuff before and found just that, loose connectors, un-soldered wires or missing fuses.I mean, where is the fun if you can’t open it up and explore the guts? Of course, it the whole thing is glued together with no fasteners apparent, then I forgive the omission.

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      It’s glued together. Once the replacement arrives and I’m satisfied with the situation I’ll tear open the bad unit and see what makes it tick (or not tick).

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