Logitech is no stranger when it comes to wireless speakers, and as part of the expanded line-up of UE products it's adding two new options to the mix: the Logitech UE Boombox and Mobile Boombox. Designed to be used with smartphones and tablets, both products let you stream music for a richer experience than what you often get with the integrated speakers on mobile devices. We spent some time with both products to get a feel for what they're like to use — and more importantly, how they sound.
The Mobile Boombox is the device that immediately calls out on an aesthetic level. Its rubberized texture begs to be held, turned, and gripped, and true to Logitech's claims, it feels rugged enough to bounce around a backpack or school bag. We had problems with the Mobile Boombox's predecessor, the Mini Boombox, when we took a look at it earlier this year, but Logitech appears to have learned its build-quality lessons here. Controls are as simple as you could hope for: a simple sliding power switch on the back, with three buttons on top, hidden beneath that rubberized coating. The volume buttons provide big, clicky targets, and the Bluetooth button between them makes set-up — a simple long press drops you into pairing mode — as easy as you could hope for. I was streaming music from an iPhone and a Nexus 7 in a matter of moments.
Loud, but a tad dull
Sound quality, however, was a different matter. One of our biggest gripes with the Mini Boombox was its shrill highs and anemic lows. The bass response of the Mobile Boombox is by no means impressive, but there was a decent amount of detail in the low-end, though it appeared to be tuned primarily for rock music. The device is also quite loud — cranking it all the way, I could hear it outside my apartment halfway down the hall (to the joy of my neighbors, no doubt). The highs, however, were noticeably dull, almost as if they'd been rolled off in reaction to criticisms of the Mini. The size of the Mobile Boombox also betrayed it in terms of stereo performance; I had to pull one specific track with exaggerated stereo separation just to confirm the unit was actually providing stereo sound in the first place.
Good for a party
Like its smaller sibling, the Boombox has large touchable buttons and was easy to get up and running. The aluminum handle actually made it feel a bit more fragile than the Mobile Boombox, however, and the rubberized coating on the bottom — though no doubt great for when you set it down in the backyard — scuffed quickly. In terms of sound quality, it outpaced the Mobile Boombox in terms of stereo separation as you'd expect, and it featured ample low-end without overwhelming the overall sound. The highs were satisfactory — there still seemed to be a general lack of brightness — but when cranking the Boombox up to fill a room or party it will no doubt perform admirably.
At $99.99, the Mobile Boombox is half the price of Jawbone's Jambox, and it shows — but for an office cubicle where the highest fidelity isn't required it could be a cost-effective solution (the integrated speakerphone capability says as much about its best-use case as the price and feel do). Logitech's UE Boombox is a slightly different matter. It sounds good, but at $249.99 it's not cheap — and it enters a field crowded with some impressive competition. Of course, hearing is believing, and you'll be able to listen to both devices for yourself when they hit brick-and-mortar Apple Stores next month.