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Lifewire / Danny Chadwick
10-hour battery life
Invisible play/pause button
The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM is a portable waterproof speaker with fantastic audio quality, but the retail price is a little expensive for what you get.
The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM is a Bluetooth speaker that’s waterproof, delivers great quality audio in all directions, and is easily transported from place to place. This device has the potential to be the center of attention at any party you bring it to. It’s also ideal to take camping, to the beach, or even to just a backyard barbeque.
This Bluetooth speaker is all about audio. Its cylindrical form factor allows it to project sound all around instead of just out of the front of the device.
The controls, on the other hand, could use a little work. It’s quite obvious that the plus and minus buttons on the front of the speaker control the volume, and the power and Bluetooth buttons are easy enough to figure out. But there is also an invisible button on top that allows you to pause/play when you push it once and skip ahead one song when pushed twice (there’s no way to skip backward). It’s fine once you get used to it, but if a friend or guest needs to pause a song, they might have a hard time finding the invisible button.
It’s also ideal to take camping, to the beach, or even to just a backyard barbeque.
Ultimate Ears’ claims of 10-hour battery life are accurate. We fully charged the battery, paired it with a computer, and let it play until it died. We started in the morning and it stopped playing about 10 hours later. If you only use it intermittently, you can probably get a month’s use out of it before having to recharge.
This device is drop-tested up to five feet, so it will survive a tumble. But you still won’t want to drop this speaker—it’s about the size of a softball and heavier than it looks. If you drop it onto anything fragile (or your foot, for that matter), it might do some damage.
To evaluate the waterproof claims, we held this model fully submerged in a bathtub for three minutes. True to its word, the WONDERBOOM was undamaged when it resurfaced. The device is IPX7-rated to be waterproof in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. But, given this device’s natural buoyancy, it’s hard to think of a likely situation where it would be totally submerged for half an hour.
This device is drop-tested up to five feet, so it will survive a tumble.
The range of this Bluetooth speaker is 33 feet away from the paired device. That’s the minimum possible under the Bluetooth Core Specifications—and in line with the rest of the similar products we tested—but we expected a little more out of a device this hefty.
One thing this device lacks is the ability to use it as a speakerphone. Other Bluetooth speakers we tested have built-in microphones so you can take calls away from your phone. While that’s not a deal breaker, it would be a nice feature to have included at this price point.
If you buy two of these speakers, you can pair one device to both of them. This is nifty and useful if you having a large party, but when we tested it, we didn’t think this speaker was amazing enough to want to invest in two.
The included documentation is surprisingly brief and not very helpful. There’s not even a proper user manual—just safety and warranty information. However, the instructions on the inside of the box should be enough to get it up and running in about one minute. If you’ve never paired a device via Bluetooth before then it may take a minute longer, but the process is generally straightforward.
In a word, the sound quality is excellent. The cylindrical design of the speaker delivers audio in 360 degrees. It’s got decently thumping bass, crisp vocals, and clear sound. When you play an album you’ve heard a million times, you’ll hear every cymbal and high note you expect to hear.
The cylindrical design of the speaker delivers audio in 360 degrees.
If you’re indoors, the sound will fill the room easily, especially from a central location. It has a lot of power for such a compact device, which also makes it a great pick for outdoor ambiance as well.
The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM retails for $99.99. We think it is certainly worth that much, but it’s hard to justify buying two at that price if you want to sync them.
If you can get them at some kind of discount or promotional price, do that—you’ll definitely feel like you got more out of your dollar.
We tested the WONDERBOOM side by side with the JBL Charge 4, which retails for $149.99 but can often be found for less. The biggest difference is the shape of the device.
The WONDERBOOM is an orb that sits upright while the Charge 4 is more bar-shaped and sits horizontally. The sound quality is about the same, but the Charge 4 doesn’t produce 360-degree sound. The choice between the two comes down to where you plan to put it—the Charge 4 is great for a shelf or anywhere that it backs up against a surface, which the WONDERBOOM is a better fit for a table or open space with lots of room around it.
It delivers excellent 360-degree audio, though it’s a bit pricey for the compact size.
This device is designed to be taken outside, bringing your favorite tunes to the beach and the mountains. This is a speaker for pool parties and camping, a waterproof and portable device that makes your music sound great—from every angle.
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