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The Boom Brick 2.0 is a magic speaker, and I'm in love with it

It looks and operates like a Bluetooth speaker, but here's the weird part: No Bluetooth. Wait, what? It's true, and this killer gift is on sale for $36.

The non-Bluetooth Boom Brick 2.0 makes an especially great speaker for videos -- and have fun figuring out how it works.
Rick Broida/CNET

True story: My son received a Boom Brick 2.0 for his birthday, prompting a discreet eye-roll from yours truly. Another Bluetooth speaker? Throw it on the pile. Except, hang on, the box says it requires no Bluetooth. No wires. No connection of any kind. Snort. Yeah, right. So it's a magic speaker? You just lay your phone in the cradle and little fairy elves amplify the sound? Well, let's just see about... oh, my god, it works!

Read more: The best portable Bluetooth speakers for 2019

How it works, I'm not entirely sure -- and I've been writing about technology for a long time. No doubt it's a combination of vibration and amplification, but to be honest I'm content to not know the full story. Sometimes it's fun to just sit back and be amazed.

This is a hard-to-find item, too, but for a limited time, Cheapskate readers can get the Boom Brick 2.0 for $36 shipped with promo code CNET10.

The Boom Brick is an attractive, solidly made wood cabinet with a sloping cradle on one side and two speakers on the other. Although the description indicates "no batteries needed," the unit does require power from a built-in rechargeable battery -- one that's good for about 6 to 8 hours.

To use the speaker, you just flip the power switch, start playing music or a video on your phone, then lay the phone in the cradle. The audio is instantly amplified -- in a way that's surprising and, yes, kind of magical. Several tech geeks (myself included) at the aforementioned party spent considerable time poking and prodding, trying to determine how and why the Boom Brick works as well as it does.


The Boom Brick 2.0 employs a pair of amplified speakers -- but amplified by what?

Rick Broida/CNET

It's not perfect, mind you: Although it can get pretty loud (as you turn up your phone's volume), the overall sound quality doesn't rival that of competing Bluetooth speakers. It's a little muffled and a little harsh, especially at louder volumes.

However, as a video speaker, it's outstanding. If you're sitting down to watch an episode of BoJack Horseman or you want to show your friends the latest hilarious Pitch Meeting video on YouTube, the Boom Brick is insanely convenient. It's also substantial enough to hold a full-size tablet: I tried it with a new iPad 10.2, and as long as I aligned the "speaker end" of the tablet with the right edge of the Boom Brick, the amplification worked.

In some ways, this product is kind of silly. It points the sound away from you. It's no cheaper than something like the $30 BlitzWolf mini-soundbar. And it's not like Bluetooth pairing is complicated.

So I guess I'm just a sucker for the magic. The Boom Brick seems like something that shouldn't work, but it does. And on the novelty factor alone, I think it would make a great gift.

Your thoughts?

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