The UE Mini Boom is an excellent value for those seeking a rugged Bluetooth speaker, a repeat delight with emphasis on stellar sound performance, portability and approachable design.
Surprisingly deep sound
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The adage "never judge a book by its cover" applies to more than just books. In the case of the Ultimate Ears (UE) Mini Boom: don't judge this Bluetooth speaker by its size. If you do, you'll miss out on an affordable option that defies its small appearance with awesome sound for a fraction of the price of some bigger tweeters.
At $99 (£79, AU$99), Ultimate Ears's miniature speaker confidently shows that size doesn't always matter. Competition beware, the UE Mini Boom is on a mission to usurp the throne as your go-to speaker and is one of the best values around.
This fist-sized Bluetooth speaker begs to be your anytime, anyplace companion and achieves just that with its durable, no-nonsense design that minimalists will love.
The speaker is housed in a uniform rubber casing. Ultimate Ears provided TechRadar with the orange flavor in the Mini Boom line. It's a festive neon color that gives the speaker a whimsical look. The Mini Boom also comes in the sleek black and red you see above, in addition to variations of black, purple and green.
It's not all about looks, though, the band of rubber acts as a bumper, providing a good amount of protection from tumbles, scratches and dings.
Embedded flush on the top of the speaker is a simple panel of buttons that offer a satisfying, tactile click. From left to right, we have decrease volume, Bluetooth pair and increase volume rounding out the offering. Nestled next to the panel is a discrete microphone for taking phone calls with a push of the pairing button.
Connecting through NFC is also possible by holding your capable device near the top of the Mini Boom. All in all, this is a user-friendly design that even Bluetooth initiates should feel right at home with.
Moving around the Mini Boom, its front-facing grille is splashed in white and is made up of unique diamond-shaped perforations. A bright blue LED lights up to signify a successful tether over Bluetooth. Other than that, there isn't much to see here, but there exist a few more details on the back.
Here, you'll find an on/off switch, micro USB charging port and a 3.5mm input hanging out together on a little island of plastic on the rear metal grille. There's also a hollowed-out area on the back that allows the surprisingly deep bass to radiate through.
The speaker works right out of the box, but Ultimate Ears encourages you download its aptly titled companion app (available for iOS and Android), Mini Boom, to boost its capabilities. With it, you can browse the product manual, adjust EQ settings, change the name of your speaker and even pair with a second Mini Boom for stereo sound. It's not a must-have, but only adds to the value packed into this little boom box.
The UE Mini Boom tackles design with finesse, giving the market a shake with an utterly simple and elegant miniature Bluetooth speaker. But wouldn't you know it, that's not even the Mini Boom's strongest suit.
When it comes to performance, the Mini Boom offers a surprising level of fidelity from its small form-factor. What's more appealing is that the sound delivery is bass-heavy, which is nearly unthinkable for something of its size.
Performance in general, regardless of genre, is generally impressive through the mighty Mini Boom. Jazz sounds warm and hip-hop is deep. However, it's not all perfect. Ultimate Ears clearly put the majority of its focus on deep bass and mids.
While the speaker can fill the room with ease, I noticed a haze hanging over the highs. Fans of rock and pop will love the full sound that the Mini Boom can provide, but the lack of ultra-crisp delivery will leave you wanting more definition.
Battery life is yet another strong suit of the UE Mini Boom. Although the charging period is a bit lengthy at four hours, I was able to squeeze the advertised 10 hours of performance out of this little one at a variety of volumes.
Connectivity via Bluetooth and NFC is quick and simple, as it's meant to be. With the companion app, the Mini Boom is capable of pairing wirelessly to another Mini Boom to mirror the music from two speakers placed within the impressive 50-foot range. We had another one in the office, so we actually had the opportunity to test out the functionality. What's cool is that it's also possible to switch it into stereo mode with the appropriate channels coming through each Mini Boom.
The UE Mini Boom strikes a particularly sweet chord as a versatile Bluetooth companion that is portable, durable and sleek.
It's even better then that sound and battery performance deliver surprisingly beefy results, especially coming from such a small speaker.
While sound performance is booming on the whole, highs don't get the deserved attention in the sound signature.
The emphasis on bass and mids will cater towards portable party-goers (or hosters), but the lack of shine in the sound will be apparent in more tame environments.
In the Bluetooth speaker market, you're going have a difficult time finding a better value. Combining impressive sound, long-lasting battery life and a cool design, the UE Mini Boom makes a huge statement for being such a little thing.
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.