Today Ultimate Ears is announcing the $99.99 UE Roll 2, the successor to last year's original Roll. The design is completely unchanged; it's still a very portable speaker (just over half a pound) shaped like a flying saucer that comes in a variety of colors. The frontside is still dominated by oversized volume buttons, and around back is the same bungee cord loop that lets you hang the Roll in the shower, someplace outside, or pretty much anywhere else you want music. Pull open the flap and you'll find an auxiliary jack and micro USB port for charging.
There are a couple upgrades on the inside, however. The Roll 2 pumps out around 15 percent more sound, according to Ultimate Ears. That's not a huge difference, but louder is louder — even if the Roll was already surprisingly powerful for its take-it-anywhere size. I chose it over the flagship UE Boom speaker for the added portability and that stretchable bungee cord.
There's no telling these two apart.
Perhaps more important than the slight output boost is the Roll 2's extended wireless range; just like the larger Boom 2, it'll keep your music playing up to 100 feet away, up from the original model's limit of 65. The new speaker maintains its predecessor's IPX7 waterproof rating. You should still avoid submerging it, and to that end UE is now including a blow-up floaty in the box, so you can keep the Roll 2 nearby while relaxing in the pool.
Buying the original Roll on sale for $50 or $70 might be a smarter move right now
If you've already got a Roll, you can use UE's app to pair the two together. They can either both play the exact same audio, or you can set them to put out a wider stereo soundscape with one covering the left side and the other right. Depending on the song, sometimes the mix can be a bit off when you're listening to a single speaker, but it's rarely an issue. There are plenty of adequate, inexpensive Bluetooth speakers out there, and you can find many even cheaper than the Roll 2 on Amazon. But the original model has been a reliable performer for me for just about a year now. That's been on sale for between $50 and $70 lately, which is probably a smarter purchase until supply runs out. But if you're more interested in the sequel, it'll begin shipping this month — Best Buy's already selling it.