It's easy to get blasé about modern digital speakers, particularly at the lower end, where competition has become so cutthroat that consumers can practically take it for granted that we can get something that can fill a room for less than a round of drinks.
This is one such speaker, I got mine, delivered, for less than 11 quid. To be fair, that will get you 7 pints of £1.49 IPA in The Justice Mil in Aberdeen, although I've never been to a Wetherspoons (or any pub), where everyone buys the special promo, but I am heavily digressing here so I'll summarise and just say that this is bargain-basement cheap.
Unboxing is a similar experience to opening a new iPhone, using the same slide off smooth paper finish that everyone seems to have adopted, you get your usual micro-usb cable and paper instructions, plus a 3.5mm cable.
It's fairly weighty for it's size, presumably it has a sizeable Li-ion battery in it. It is, doesn't creak and feels fairly well made, it's essentially a Jawbone Jambox clone.
Turning it on, you'll get the usual beep and a sampled status voice, there is an issue when pairing with multiple devices, where it will connect to both simultaneously when both are in range whether you want it to or not, and even if you remove the speaker from your pairing list, the speaker will not forget and complain audibly that paring wan't successful. A factory reset would almost certainly resolve this, however there appears to be no way of doing that, which is a bit annoying, but not a huge deal.
You also get a full complement of controls on the top, something often missing on far more expensive speakers, not a main concern for me as I tend to use the playback device to control, but once to have.
I played back music from a variety of genres, and spoken word via a few podcasts, I did direct A-B comparisons with a Sony SRS-BTS50, a vastly more expensive speaker, but similar in terms of audio specs - 2.5+2.5 watts, plus passive bass radiator.
Without going into detail, the Elf can go bit louder and has a brighter sound, and the Sony has fuller, deeper bass and a warmer overall sound. The Elf is more prone to distortion and case vibration on certain bass driven tracks, particularly Deadmaus/Kascade "I Remember" and "Real Joy" by Fono. Acoustic and string based music, pop, rock etc is more tolerant than deep house bass lines, however you can still get the speakers to fart a bit if you max out both source and speaker, I find notching down the volume by one on both devices resolves this, while still offering volume levels comparable to the Sony.
Overall, the Sony does sound a little nicer, and is less prone to distortion, has a nicer designed case, NFC etc. But the fact that for relative pennies, I managed to get a device that not only compares very well, sonically to a speaker that retailed for £130, but actually manages to beat it in terms of volume and arguably clarity in certain circumstances, can't be ignored.
Put it this way, half a decade ago, you couldn't even get an XMI mini 2 this cheaply, I paid over £15 for one of those in 2009, and while those little golf balls are still great little squawkers (better than hotel LCD tellies, I've actually used and XMI to make them more audible!), these passive radiator speakers are a quantum leap in comparison, and now we can get them for same price. Even the battery life manages to be in the same ballpark.
Taking the technical and audio niggles into account, I still can't give this less than five stars for the money. It's about to be an awesome little gift for a family member.
Side note, the box claims 5+5 watt RMS, but I would take this product pages claimed specs of 6 combined (3+3) as more likely to be accurate. Think of this as having 2 XMI minis plus a mini sub-woofer in a small box.