Think Outside Boomtube H2O1
Editors' Note: The rating on this review has been lowered from 7.0 to 6.7 due to changes in the competitive marketplace.
If Think Outside's Boomtube H2O1 looks familiar, you may have been paying attention when Virgin Electronics was still around: The H2O1 is actually the acquired version of the Boomtube EX. Think Outside purchased the design when Virgin Electronics was dissolved, and that design is enticing indeed. Your musically inclined buddies will drool when you set up the silver, eye-catching Boomtube, but their faces might fall as their ears strain for the promised heart-stopping bass. A thick, heavy metal tube with remote speakers that unscrew from either end, the 'Tube is certainly unique; unfortunately, we could have done with a bit more boom, a cleaner cable setup, and a discount on the steep $200 price tag.
The silver, cylindrical Think Outside Boomtube H201--measuring 12 inches long and 2.8 inches in diameter--might easily be mistaken for a large Thermos bottle, although at 3.2 pounds, there's clearly more than chicken soup inside. When you're ready to crank out the tunes, you unscrew the Boomtube's two end caps and set them on a flat surface, with the open ends (with speakers inside) facing out. Next, you attach the remote speakers to the main tube with a pair of included RCA plugs; a pair of always-attached retractable cords would have made for a cleaner design. Then connect your iPod, music player, or PC with the minijack-to-minijack cable. There's no obvious slot or base for your music player, so you'll have to lay it on the floor or the surface next to the Boomtube--again, not the most optimal design. Finally, you can run the Boomtube using the included AC adapter or its rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is rated for an uninspiring 5 hours of music; by contrast, the $150 Logitech mm50's rechargeable battery is rated for 10 hours. Volume and bass-response dials flank the power button, which sits atop the main tube; the rim of the power button glows green when the tube is plugged into an AC outlet and red when running off the battery. The Boomtube also comes with a sturdy, stylish carrying case, as well as a pair of earplugs for the neighbors--cute and how very Virgin-sounding.
With a bass tube as big and heavy as this, we prepared ourselves for some bold beats. We attached our iPod Nano to the Think Outside Boomtube H201 and queued up Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," but the Boomtube's so-so bass left us a bit, well, underwhelmed. The two remote speakers sounded reasonably rich, with fair detail in the soaring strings, and we were able to crank the volume to bone-rattling levels with little distortion, thanks to the Boomtube's output of 20 watts per channel. However, bass response was disappointingly subtle, even with the bass control cranked all the way up. Switching to the massive drum-and-bass beats of Photek, we still appreciated the bright, detailed sound of the remotes, but the tube--while certainly adding some warmth--didn't quite deliver the boom we were hoping for, leaving the sound a bit hollow at higher volumes.