Bluetooth speakers are ubiquitous and cheap, but are generally better, with improved sound quality, range and stability. In addition to being more expensive than Bluetooth, one of the main reasons Wi-Fi still hasn’t cracked the mainstream is a lack of battery-powered portability. Speakers like the Riva Arena are designed to address this.
At $249/£225/AU$369, the Riva Arena offers the combination of a direct Wi-Fi connection to your phone and a portable battery when you’re out of the home. It has a glut of connection options for playing music from your phone, including our favorite Wi-Fi ecosystem: Chromecast built-in. And yes, there’s Bluetooth if you need it.
Competitors Sonos and Denon sound better, but you can’t take them on the road. Right now if you want a portable Chromecast speaker, the Riva Arena is your best (and only) option.
Design-wise, the Riva Arena is two partsand one part MP3 player. It’s a 4-by-7-inch rectangular cuboid which comes in a choice of either white or black. It’s larger and more solid feeling than the Sonos at 3 pounds (1.4kg) On the top of the unit is your control panel, which offers playback controls, volume and input selection (with a long press).
The splash-proof speaker is driven by a 50-watt amplifier which feeds three ADX drivers complemented by passive bass drivers. For a broader sound stage drivers are located in three of the four sides. There’s no “sub” as such, but the accompanying Riva Wand app allows you to adjust the EQ.