49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Boom! This speaker just blew me away!,
This review is from: Ultimate Ears BOOM - Black Night (Electronics)
After returning my Bose Soundlink Mini (it developed a fault and I opted for a refund), I went looking around (yet again!) for a bluetooth speaker. I looked at all the usual suspects in the £100-£200 range, and eventually decided upon the UE Boom!
What is it?
The UE Boom is a wireless Bluetooth speaker. In short, if you've got a smartphone (ie. any Android or iPhone) or tablet (eg. Nexus, Kindle Fire or iPad) or even a modern laptop you can wirelessly stream (play) music from your device. No wires, no fuss just great sound quality!
What I needed?
In order of priority:-
1. Sound Quality - needs to be top class. I'm no audiophile, but at £150+ I want the best possible full, rich and (ideally) room filling sound
2. Portability - I want to use it around the house, and out on the occasional picnic or outdoor event
3. Rugged - It needs to be a little rugged. Not that I'm taking it to rock festival mud bath - but I want to use it in the bathroom in the morning and not have it break down
4. Battery Powered - Goes with portability really. I needs to be include a rechargeable battery. At least 5-6 hours.
5. Linked up - Ideally I'd like to have one permanently in the bathroom, with the option to buy another and stream to them both.
6. Line in - so I can plug in an MP3 player or external CD player (optional)
In reality only 1-4 were mandatory. The rest I could live without.
How does it work?
You simply "pair" the speaker and phone/iPad and play your music or radio.
On the iPhone (but almost certainly available on Android) I use the following Apps:-
* Music - to stream music from my iPhone and iPad
* Tune In Radio - An app to listen to world wide radio stations (or XFM London and Radio 4 in my case)
* Spotify - where for £5-£10 a month (or even for free) you can listen to unlimited tracks of your selection
* BBC iPlayer or You Tube - to boost the sound from your iPad or tablet
You also get a free iPhone app meaning you can control sound volume, set a equaliser, connect two together for full stereo and even have it wake you up in the morning! It becomes a clock-radio!
What's it like?
Sound quality is simply brilliant! While I'm no audiophile, this is the 5th streaming device I've tried (see below), and sound quality is just stunning. This kicks out a great sound, and overall sound quality is near perfect. Certainly enough to fill a large room, and from a device this size - just amazing.
In terms of size and weight it's about 7 inches long and shaped roughly like a water bottle with a nice weighty feel about it - just over half a bag of sugar. Small enough to fit into a bag and carry around with you, it's also rechargeable. I've tried it out myself and found it runs for around 9-10 hours on high volume. (By which I mean HIGH VOLUME!). They claim about 15 hours - but presumably that's turned down pretty low.
In terms of connectivity, it "remembers" the last eight devices paired with it. Although the "pairing" process only takes a short time, it means once you've set it up, myself, my wife and daughter can stream music to it from their device without any further setup. It also has a handy AUX socket, meaning you can plug in an external CD or MP3 player - a nice extra. There's also a USB connection which I understand it to apply software upgrades.
In terms of style, it's pretty cool. Maybe the bright colours are a little too "obvious" for my liking, but the black works well for me.
And best of all - it's RUGGED. Comes with a D-Ring to attach to a bag, and is "water resistant". This means while you can't take is swimming - it should be fine for outdoor use (if it's caught in a light shower) or in my case - in the bathroom where humidity is a potential problem.
Oh - and one final feature (although I've not tried it yet), it seems you can use it as a speaker-phone to make phone calls. That would be a great little feature if using with an iPad or laptop to make a video call.
What's Good about it?
* Stunning sound quality
* Remarkably small, but a nice weight
* Charges via a USB which means you don't need to worry about losing the cable
* Auxiliary port means you can plug in a stereo or MP3 player
* Bluetooth pairing with iPhone or Android device. Up to 8 are remembered
* It's rugged and "people" proof.
* When you can afford it - you can connect another
What's not so good?
* The power connector and USB cable is bright yellow. (OK. So it's a matter of taste!)
What else is available?
Well, as stated above, this is the FIFTH streaming speaker set I've tested or bought. Not that I'm hard to please, but at £150+ I expect these to work well and sound great. This one ticks all the boxes for me. The alternatives I've looked at are:-
* Bose Soundlink Mini. Direct competitor (same price). More restrained "Apple" brushed aluminium design and not nearly as tough (as I found out!)
* Base Soundlink III. £100 more, and maybe slightly better sound quality. The "big brother" of the Soundlink Mini. My brother has one (I plan to do a head-to-head)
* Azatom Stealth Air: A mains powered only device. Great sound and price, but this produces better sound quality, and is portable and rechargeable.
* JBL Charge Bluetooth: Another bluetooth portable speaker at around £100. Quoted battery longer at around 12 hours play-back, but both Boom and Bose beats it on sound quality and depth
* Apple TV: Great option if you have an iPhone or iPad as you can connect it to a TV and external Sound Bar or speakers. I stream music to this in the lounge (and also watch films as a bonus!).
* Sonos Range: Fantastic sound, with the ability to connect several together - but not rechargeable
* AQ Smart Speaker: Disappointing sound quality given the high price - but you can pair two portable speakers to work in stereo.
How does it compare?
Having owned both a Boom and a Bose Mini, it's an obvious question - but I've not heard them both together. Having said that, I'd say the Boom wins overall on full, loud sound quality. I do agree with many other reviewers than the Bose Mini is terrific at lower volume, and but I think there's not really much between them.
The real clincher for me was the fact the Boom is designed to be used outdoors. While not a military grade tough device - it shrugs off water and dirt.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Mar 2014 12:14:25 BDT
Wow. I don't really like long reviews (and don't normally bother reading them) but yours was so clearly set out/structured and easy to read, thank you! Thanks for addressing all my potential questions. I work in a sometimes steamy and slightly dusty studio workspace and have been hesitating between a Bose Soundlink Mini and a UE Boom to use with my Kindle Fire HD (mainly for the TuneIn and Spotify apps) and possibly my iMac at home. Your review is really helpful and has pushed me off the fence.
In reply to an earlier post on 31 Mar 2014 13:57:40 BDT
John Ryan says:
Thanks Isabel. Glad the review was useful!
Posted on 23 Apr 2014 12:13:25 BDT
N. Hutchison says:
Brilliant review thank you
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