Polaroid P2 Player Review

Most people associate Polaroid with instant film cameras, but after two decades of post-bankruptcy corporate reorganisation, the company is expanding beyond that identity. The most recent project from the modern-day Polaroid is a set of four Bluetooth speakers with a companion app that curates a set of streaming radio stations. The P2 Player ($129.99) was sent to us by Polaroid. It is part of a lineup that also includes the small, mono P1 for $59.99, the larger stereo P3 for $189.99, and the even larger mono P4 for $289.99. The P2 Player has 1.85-inch drivers and is quite loud for its small size. We like its playful design, but it lacks the clarity, finesse, and weatherproofing of similarly priced Bluetooth speakers like the $129.95 JBL Flip 6 or the $179.95 JBL Charge 5, each of which come with a far more useful companion app.

The Polaroid P2 Player has a fun design, is quite loud for its size, and is reasonably priced at $129.99. However, it lacks detail in the highs and power in the lows to stand out in the audio department.

A Vibrant Design, but Not the Longest-Lasting

With a rounded white body, a bright grille, and colourful back accents, the P2 resembles a children’s toy (black, blue, red, white, or yellow models are all available). The slim rainbow strip in the middle as well as the rainbow fabric loop on the right side give it a more cheerful appearance than most Bluetooth speakers. The only dark element on the speaker, unless you get the black model, is a circular LED between the two grilles that displays the connection status, volume level, as well as other information. It is larger and heavier than the cylindrical JBL Flip 6, measuring 3.6 by 8.7 by 2.0 inches (HWD) and weighing 1.4 pounds (2.6 by 7.0 by 2.8 inches, 1 pound).

The speaker is supported by a rubber foot that runs along its bottom edge as well as keeps the device stable. Play/power, back, forward, and app-defined favourite and music buttons are located on the top edge. It also has a large volume wheel, a Bluetooth pairing button, as well as an NFC panel for quick pairing with a tap.

The left side of the speaker has lanyard holes, but the rainbow tag on the right works just as well once you connect the included, matching fabric strap. A rubber door beneath the tag conceals the USB-C port (for the included USB-C-to-USB-A charging cable), a 3.5mm input, as well as a reset button. There is no USB charger included.

Despite what the rubber door might suggest, the P2 lacks an IP rating. This is surprising given that most other speakers in this size and price range have some level of weatherproofing. The Bose SoundLink Flex ($149), JBL Flip 6, as well as the dirt-cheap JBL Go 3 ($49.95) all have an IP67 waterproof rating.

The P2 connects to source devices via Bluetooth 5.0. This is an older version of Bluetooth, which is unsurprising given the price. Polaroid has not disclosed what codecs are supported. According to Polaroid, the P2 Player can be charged for up to 15 hours. This estimate is affect by your listening volume, as loud music will shorten that time. The speaker takes about four hours to recharge.

An App Created for Radio

The Polaroid Music companion app (available for Android and iOS) adds a few new features to the P2. Most importantly, it allows you to select and favourite music by using two of the speaker’s buttons. You can also use the app to access several Polaroid-curated streaming radio stations, as well as connect your Apple Music account (support for Spotify will be added at a later date). Otherwise, you can adjust the display brightness and the volume of your phone’s system sounds in relation to the music.

The app lacks EQ and balance controls, as well as the ability to pair a second speaker for stereo listening. The latter is at least possible by activating stereo pairing mode on two speakers by pressing the Bluetooth pairing button twice. To complete the connection with the speaker, the app also requires persistent access to location data. If you refuse to grant this permission or turn it off later, you can still use the app’s features, but a “Connect your Polaroid Player” tile will remain at the top of the app interface.

Unimpressive Despite Being Loud and Balanced

A speaker this small and shallow is unlikely to produce powerful bass. As a result, it offers only modest low-frequency response with our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” and emits the characteristic crunch as well as pop of distortion at maximum volume. When not trying to push out sub-bass frequencies, the P2 can get amazingly loud for its size and has good balance. The opening acoustic guitar notes in Yes’ “Roundabout” have a lot of resonance and can easily fill a room. However, the hint of string texture that comes through the speaker lacks the high-frequency finesse that we prefer.

When the track fully kicks in, all of the elements get a lot of attention, if not a lot of detail. The bassline, drums, guitar, and vocals all stand out without being overpowering in the mix. The sound, once again, isn’t particularly rich or crisp.

“Born Too Slow” by The Crystal Method demonstrates the P2’s general mid- and high-mid-focused signature. The riffs and vocals dominate the mix, while the backbeat settles a little further back than ideal, lacking the lower-frequency weight required to anchor the track. Higher frequencies receive little attention as well. The normally screeching elements are still present, but they don’t cut through the mix as well as they should.

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