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The UE Boom tops the portable speaker market (review)

Ultimate Ears knows audio and their latest UE Boom product rocks the portable market with fantastic features, long battery life, and advanced pairing functionality.
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UE Boom powers your mobile device

I have had the opportunity to test out many new portable speakers, headphones, and earphones and the audio experts at Ultimate Ears continue to impress. They have large and small speaker solutions in the Logitech UE Boombox and Mobile Boombox, but this latest speaker I have been testing is the best I have heard from them so far.

The Ultimate Ears Boom speaker comes in a number of color schemes and can be used alone or paired with another. I compared it to the Beats Pill, Jawbone Jambox, and Braven 650 and found it to be the best of all. It has all the latest and greatest technology, including Bluetooth with a range of 50 feet, ability to pair with up to eight devices, NFC for ease of connectivity, a battery life of up to 15 hours, and mic for speakerphone functionality.

Retail package and initial hands-on

The UE Boom arrived in a cylindrical container and before I opened it up I thought it was going to be a rather large speaker, similar in size to the Big Jambox. After sliding the cylinder of of the outer advertising sleeve, it splits open down the length to reveal the speaker centered in the compartment.

A small upper compartment houses a lime green USB to microUSB cable and short Quick Start Guide. The cable is durable and the specifications state is is designed for increased charging capacity with additional voltage.

A lower compartment houses a matching lime green USB to A/C charging adapter with prongs that flip out to fit into an outlet.

Ultimate Ears sent along red and white colored speakers. Two were sent so I could test out the dual mode functionality (discussed below). The red color, almost orange, is on the acoustic skin with plasma coating that makes the UE Boom water and stain resistant. The speaker grille material feels excellent in the hand and seems very durable.

The white part of the speaker has a rubber feel that runs along one length and the top and bottom. Large plus and minus signs appear near the top of the lengthy rubber material. These are actually buttons to control volume. If you press and hold the two buttons at the same time you will get a voice prompt telling you what the battery percentage remains.

Specifications and hardware

Along the top you will find the Bluetooth button and LED above the center power button and LED. On the bottom you will find the 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port for charging. There is a D-ring centered on the bottom and when you remove it you will find it fits into a standard tripod mount in case you wish to mount the speaker on a stand.

The UE Boom has top of the line specifications that include:

  • Support to connect eight devices, two at the same time that you can alternate between
  • Bluetooth range up to 50 feet
  • NFC enabled to assist with easy pairing (works with Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10)
  • Maximum sound level of 88 dBA
  • Frequency range of 90Hz to 20 kHz
  • Drivers measuring 1.5 inches, 4 Ohms, and two 2 inch passive radiators
  • Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery with up to 15 hours battery life
  • Dimensions of 7.1 inches length/height and 2.6 inches in diameter with weight of 19 ounces

You can have fun with the dual connectivity and let a buddy connect to the UE Boom and then switch back and forth between devices to enjoy various content.

I connected my HTC One to the speakers and then walked two rooms away with one of the speakers and the music continued to play flawlessly. The 50 foot range is valid and the speakers can be used adequately to power audio in a typical house.

iOS and Android software

In order to use two speakers together, you need to connect an iOS or Android device. There is no way to have both speakers connected physically, through daisy chaining, or wirelessly without the UE Boom application. As you can see in my screenshots, the UE Boom application lets you pair to two speakers wirelessly and then have the speakers work in stereo with a left and right channel or in stereo individually with both speakers powering your audio experience.

In addition to controlling the pair of speakers, the mobile application lets you manage the name of the speakers, view battery level, set the alert language, change equalizer settings (loud, vocals, or intimate), toggle alerts sounds on or off, and view/manage the speaker firmware.

The last icon on the app launches the detailed user guide that will answer all of your questions and is a very nice reference.

UE Boom experience and wrap up

Like my previous experience with the Logitech UE 900 earphones the UE Boom offers a top notch audio experience. Audio was crisp and clear, even at maximum volume levels. With the two speakers operating in stereo, my focal point for the audio source was right in the middle where there was no speaker. The sound wasn't bass heavy and like the other UE products gave me a sound that seemed true to the content.

Logitech UE has smaller and larger Boombox solutions and while they are good, the UE Boom stands out above them both, IMHO. The UE Boom is portable, has all the greatest functionality, and is a fantastic portable speaker solution.

You can purchase a UE Boom for $199.99 each. After experiencing the dual mode functionality of the speakers it would be tough for me not to purchase and enjoy two speakers. The available colors of the UE Boom include Moss green and blue, black and red, blue and white, pink and red, red and white, and complete white. The UE Boom comes with a 2-year limited hardware warranty.

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Opening up the UE Boom retail package. Note the two compartments at the ends of the speaker.

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Top and bottom compartment contents

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Quick Start Guide

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UE Boom pair

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Top of the UE Boom

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Bottom of the UE Boom

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Red speaker material

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UE branding

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UE Boom compared to other speakers

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UE Boom Android application

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UE Boom Android application

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UE Boom Android settings

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