The UE Megaboom is easy to recommend based on its sound and battery improvements over its smaller Boom brethren. But, at $299 (£249, AU$379), this speaker is in need of a killer app to best the competition.
Bigger sound, better battery
Easy to use
Doesn't offer anything new
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The UE Boom 2 is a tour de force in the Bluetooth speaker scene. First off, it's one helluva good-looking device. Then, it keeps impressing with class-leading performance, waterproofing, and a unique set of features allowed by its free companion app.
So, the only way to make it better is to give you more of it. With the UE Megaboom, that's exactly what you get.
The UE Megaboom is nothing more than a bigger Boom 2, and that qualification alone makes it an easy recommendation off the cuff. But digging in a little deeper, this plus-sized variation sounds louder and fuller than its smaller next of kin. The larger form factor even allows for the battery life to stretch on for 20 hours, 25% longer than the Boom 2 is capable of.
With these improvements in mind, the Megaboom makes good on its $299 (£249, AU$379) price point, especially if you're in need of more power for your parties. But, on the other hand, it offers nothing different in the way of features from the Boom 2. The sole deciding factor is power. How much is that worth to you?
As you might expect, the Megaboom absolutely dwarfs the Boom 2 in size, and is on the large side for portable speakers in general. It stands just shy of nine inches, two inches taller and about an inch thicker than the UE Boom 2. Heftier dimensions aside, it still retains the compact, cylindrical charm.
Unlike most first-generation products, UE struck gold with the design of its original Boom – so much so that you can see the design here is, more or less, unchanged. You'll still find the familiar "+, -" volume buttons positioned at the front, and the power button resting in the middle of its concave top.
For the uninitiated, the Megaboom is the size of a large thermos, taking on a mix of design elements found in both the original Boom and its successor. The fabric stitching that wraps around its body has a more sparse thread count and button design that mimics the look found on the UE Boom. But, once flipped over, the port flap that helps the Megaboom in its waterproofing (IPX7) efforts has gone under the knife and looks flatter, like what you'll see on the Boom 2.
For more about the design nuances found in the Megaboom, our review of the UE Boom goes over them in great detail. Also, check out our review of the UE Boom 2 to learn about how the Megaboom functions, including a few words on the new, awesome built-in motion control feature.
Just as it did with the design, the Megaboom measures up to the successes of the UE Boom and Boom 2, then multiplies them. This plus-sized speaker is just as easy to use, but offers measurable boosts in sound and battery performance, which help it not only stand above its smaller kin, but to reach eye-level of other, heftier competition, too.
The Megaboom boasts a powerful sound that's filled with crispness and heady bass. Providing a full, room-filling experience has long been a strong suit of UE's cylindrical Bluetooth speakers, and the larger hardware is just as worthy of the accolade. Every genre of music that we lobbed at it sounds vibrant and expansive.
The 360-degree audio effect, which we found to be improved in the Boom 2 over its original, was also noticeably better here. Walking around the speaker, it's much harder than it used to be (but still possible) to find a "dead spot" in the sound delivery.
Listeners who insist that a speaker's worth relies heavily on its feature set will be pleased with the Megaboom. Like the rest of UE's lineup, this one's capabilities are nestled in its free companion app, too. It isn't a necessary component to start using the speaker, but you'd be remiss not to take advantage of its many noteworthy features.
For example, the built-in equalizer can be tweaked to your taste, and you can pair two UE speakers together. If that isn't impressive enough, you can set custom alarms for the speaker. There's really nothing like waking up to your favorite music.
Lastly, the Megaboom's owner can invite others within its range to connect and make song suggestions via the app's Block Party feature.
UE's larger speaker also pleases with the performance of its more practical features. Answering calls is a cinch, requiring a single press of the Bluetooth pairing button to pick up and another to hang up a call. Sound quality coming from the call, as well as the Megaboom's microphone pickup, leave nothing to be desired.
Battery life, as mentioned earlier, gets a five-hour boost over its smaller UE counterparts to a total of 20 hours. This puts the Megaboom in the range of what I expect for a speaker of this size and price.
Lastly, the waterproofing measures do well in protecting the innards for up to 30 minutes while submerged. It's a little too cold as of this writing to take a dip in the pool with it, but it handled a plunge into my kitchen sink like a champ.
Upgrading from previous iterations of the UE Boom isn't an absolute necessity here, unless it's power that you desire more of. That said, this is a fantastic, albeit pricey, entry point for the lot of you who haven't bought into this fantastic lineup of speakers.
If you're interested in seeing what else is out there for the $299 (£249, AU$379) price point, the Harman Infinity One might be more up your alley. It may not have waterproofing or the long-lasting battery of the Megaboom, but its audio chops can run a lap around it.
Perhaps the Megaboom's greatest (and only) flaw is that it doesn't do anything different than the UE Boom 2, which is more affordable by a great margin. Sure, it can pipe the tunes louder and for longer, but I don't know too many people who would consider those reasons convincing enough to part ways with big bills over.
To this end, the Megaboom might seem like a redundancy in the UE lineup (and it sort of is), but I'll gladly take more of what has worked so well in the past. However, the Megaboom's next generation needs a killer app to make it more readily worth the investment.
Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.
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