Over the weekend I got my hands on the new $99 Ultimate Ears Roll Bluetooth speaker — a durable and waterproof frisbee of a device that pumps the beats like the UE Mini Boom cousin it is replacing. The form factor is totally new however.
First up: The UE Roll sounds really good with significant bass emerging from that thin profile. Not quite as good as $200+ portable speakers like the Bose Soundlink Mini or even the full-sized UE MegaBoom but plenty good to fill up a room or for a few people to rock out with some background music on the beach for a volleyball game. If you find yourself in a quiet, still spot the sound really comes through clean even though the device with its bungee cord off the back lends itself to the great outdoors and physical activity.
The Roll connects to Apple and other Bluetooth devices – even the Apple Watch – through a typical Bluetooth 4 connection, but Logitech offers some very premium features via the iOS or Android app that debuted with the Megaboom. With the app, you can set an alarm, “equalize” the sound, pair two or more speakers for stereo or do Sonos-like arrays in every room, check battery status and more with updates promised for the future…
The standout feature here is the housing. It is made from a rubber-like substance on the back and a fabric color front or top, (7 patterns to choose from) and is IPX7 (1M underwater) waterproofing which “seals” the deal. I tried dunking it, throwing it and even rolling it down a hill. The sound never stopped coming, though it did sound muffled underwater. UE notes that it can actually go 66 feet from the host device, twice as far as normal Bluetooth speakers thanks to some antenna circuitry/wizardry. It also includes a bungie cable for attaching it to your person, or, as my son did, put it on a bike. Also on the back you’ll find MicroUSB charging and Aux input.
Downsides are few but just like the Megaboom it is a bit of a hassle to plug in with the microUSB port being very recessed. It charges in an hour or two and the battery claims 9 hours of life. In my short time with this speaker I can tell you those battery estimates are a bit optimistic and folks should probably expect closer to 5-6 hours, especially if the music is turned up high. Another quibble is the volume buttons – they are huge, spanning the whole front of the speaker but you’ll have to train your aim for center because only a small part of the buttons work.
Overall, the UE Roll is a winner. I love that you can throw it in a bag for the weekend without having to bring a charger or a box to keep it from becoming crushed. I love that you can leave it outside in the rain or keep it near a pool without having to worry about it getting wet, stepped on, or hurt in any way. I also love that this is wearable anywhere from the shower to a camping trip or a bike ride right out of the box.
We’ll have more on this speaker in an upcoming roundup.
|Manufacturer: Ultimate Ears (Logitech)||Price: $99, Amazon||Compatibility: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple Watch, All MacBooks, any Bluetooth Android or PC|