A few weeks back, we put the G-Boom rugged Bluetooth speaker through its paces and concluded that it packs some impressive sound in a distinct looking package. This time around, we’re looking at the competing Ultimate Ears Boom ($200) which offers some unique features not seen on the G-Boom, while shrinking the overall speaker size.
The UE Boom, by Logitech, reminds me of holding a can of Pringles, but slightly smaller and definitely less salty. The circular shape is intended to allow sound to travel 360 degrees from the speaker. On one end of the tube, there is a power button and Bluetooth pairing/switching button. The UE Boom supports Bluetooth up to 50ft and NFC pairing. I can attest to the range using my iPhone 5s and Chromebook. Having the speaker out back for a bonfire, I was easily able to move around the yard without any issues in streaming.
The other end of the speaker is the microphone, power input, and 3.5mm aux input. There is also a loop so that you can attach the speaker to misc things. This same side also comes with a protective rubber holder which brings me to the next feature: water resistance. Although I’m a bit hesitant to dunk the thing under a faucet, the Boom has a water resistance (IPX4) coating. I used our sprinkler to test this out and water did not affect the Boom at all — it quickly dried and worked just as well as when I took it out of the packaging.
Battery life is rated at 15 hours and I’ve yet to run low while streaming music. On the iPhone, there is a little battery indicator next to the Bluetooth symbol to show the battery level.
Unfortunately, there is no additional buttons for play/pause on the speaker. This would have been a nice so that you aren’t always looking for your music source (iPhone, Android, computer, etc) when trying to change audio. Not a deal breaker, but something to consider when buying.
One of the more unique features of the UE Boom is the ability to upgrade or change the speaker settings via software (iOS / Google Play). We have started to see more of this kind of extension of hardware via software and it’s a good change. With the ability to update the speakers software, Ultimate Ears can include additional features that did not initially ship with the device.
One feature added after shipping was the ability to change the EQ of the speaker depending on the environment. Outside? Change the EQ to Out Loud which gives the speaker a boost in sound. Need more Bass? Turn on Bass Boost. Not only can you change the EQ of the speaker, you also have the ability to bring another UE Boom to the party and enable stereo speakers. I didn’t have an additional Boom to try this out, but looking at the app page, it’s seems fairly straightforward to pair another speaker.
The last option in the app is a simple alarm feature. The app allows you to setup a time and what music you want to wake up to. There are additional options for repeating and at to what volume to have the alarm start.
As always, sound is subjective when listening. For me, I enjoy a warmer sound (i.e., like more bass and mid range). The G-Boom definitely provided that, but the overall package was fairly large and Dave questioned the design aesthetics of the speaker. ;-)
In contrast, the UE Boom is a much smaller package, yet provides a very pleasing sound for all types of music and can still get very loud! I was easily impressed when using the speaker in all conditions, whether outside by the fire, or just moving from room to room in the house. Using the software to change the EQ, I was able to match what sound I wanted to where I was listening and could crank the speaker to full volume with no distortion.
The UE Boom brings not only an excellent sounding speaker in a small package, but also the ability to extend it’s functionality via software and future updates. As stated above, the only option I wish the UE Boom had was additional control buttons for play/pause/FF/RW. Overall, Logitech has hit a great middle ground for sound as the Boom provides clean and clear listening, while also giving enough bass when needed. Battery life is excellent and can outlast whatever crazy party you are looking to throw at it.