The Zolo Halo speaker is a near miss, but if you can get it at $30 or less, it’s worth a buy.
The form factor, design and sound quality from the speaker are fantastic. It’s an unobtrusive yet handsome rounded cylinder, with a clean design. While it’s hard to gauge size from pictures online, it’s about the size of a closed fist. Definitely smaller than I expected, but thats not a bad thing. The sound output is said to be better than a dot, but I don’t really notice much of a difference. Mids are stronger than the dot, but there is virtually no low end. Zero thump. This, again, is not a bad thing; considering the size of the speaker it is solidly adequate. The Halo is very good at picking up your voice from across a medium size room, but will require you to speak LOUDLY to pick you up clearly in a big or noisy space. It is slower at responding and processing your commands than a Dot or Echo, but not so much so that it’s a hassle. Overall, it’s a middle of the road entry in the small bluetooth speaker market that punches above it’s weight class thanks to Alexa integration.
Now, the catch. As with most other third party speakers, Alexa integration is limited. Calling, messaging, and other Echo specific features do not work, and I didn’t expect them to. I did expect the BT link to my phone to work though. My biggest annoyance with the device is it’s inability to connect to/disconnect from my paired phone without me going to my phone’s settings. The Halo is also unable to skip or pause songs once a connection is established. Since I listen to my music through Napster and my iTunes library, this adds extra steps that I don’t have with my Echo.
Finally, I’ve heard raves about Anker’s customer service and was excited to finally join their customer base. Unfortunately, two calls to their customer service center with basic questions about functionality left me wanting. The team members did not seem to know basic things about the device such as, “what Alexa features are unavailable.” The second person I spoke to told me that she would have to ask the one team member who was trained on the device to call me back. He didn’t. I’m not averse to self help, so I combed their website for online support information, but there’s nothing official online other than user forums.
I’m still not sure if I’m going to keep the Zolo Halo, but if I’d paid the $59 MSRP, it would have been back in Amazon’s warehouse already.
If any software updates roll out, I’ll update my review accordingly.