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UE Mini Boom Bluetooth speaker review: UE's compact speaker gets a small boost

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MSRP: $99.99

The Good The UE Mini Boom is a very compact Bluetooth speaker that has a built-in rechargeable battery, speakerphone capabilities, a line input, and ruggedized design. It sounds good for its small size and can be combined with a second Mini Boom to create a stereo pair. It sounds slightly better than its predecessor, the UE Mobile Boombox.

The Bad Yes, the Mini Boom's bass is slightly improved, but it still can't produce a ton of bass.

The Bottom Line While it doesn't do that much to stand out from the crowded field of Bluetooth speakers in the $60-$100 range, the well-built and decent sounding (for its size) UE Mini Boom is a pretty safe choice for those looking for a very compact wireless speaker.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

If you're like me and having been keeping tabs on the wireless Bluetooth speaker market, you know that the UE Mini Boom looks a lot like last year's UE Mobile Boombox. Cosmetically, at least, the two products are nearly identical (the speaker grilles do have different patterns). However, the $99.99 Mini Boom does offer a couple of enhancements that slightly improve upon an already good product.

What exactly are those enhancements? Well, the Mini Boom offers a bit better sound. And you can also pair up two Mini Booms to create a stereo right and left speakers. I can't say that adds up to a big leap forward, but you are getting a little bit more for your money, which isn't a bad thing.

Same design
The Mini Boom is smaller than the Jawbone Jambox and weighs 10.6 ounces (301g). It's easy enough to stow in a bag or backpack and it's obviously small enough to easily tote out to the patio, pool, or beach (it really is quite small). It makes for an excellent travel companion.

The Mini Boom is available in multiple color options, including solid black. Sarah Tew/CNET

Like the Mobile Boombox, this model has a rubberized, rugged casing, with a limited set of control buttons on the top of the device. There's volume-up/-down buttons, plus a Bluetooth button to set up pairing, but no transport controls for skipping tracks forward and back or pausing playback (with Bluetooth devices, you tend to control playback and volume from your mobile device, but some people being able to control playback from the speaker itself).

The Mini Boom comes in a few different colors -- I ended up with black and red versions -- and has an auxiliary input for plugging in audio devices that aren't Bluetooth-enabled (you'll have to supply the cable, however).

The volume controls and Bluetooth button. Sarah Tew/CNET

One of the reasons behind the rubberized design is that it helps keep the speaker from moving around when you feed it bass-heavy material and pumped up its volume. The truth is that these little speakers aren't really designed to be cranked up and belt out big, booming sound. They can play loud for their size and fill a small room with sound, but they tend to sound best at 6-8 on the volume scale rather than at 10. They also offer virtually no stereo separation since their internal drivers are crammed so closely together.

Since there are no raised "feet" on the bottom of the unit (it's just one flat piece of rubberized plastic), the finish on the bottom may get scuffed up over time, particularly if you use this outside. In other words, be careful about what surface you place the speaker on.

Pairing the speaker was simple enough: you just press the Bluetooth icon on top of the unit and search for Bluetooth devices on your phone or tablet from within the Bluetooth menu. Once it connects, you're ready to start streaming music or a movie soundtrack to the speaker.

Around back you'll find the power button, micro USB charging port, and auxiliary input for non Bluetooth devices. Sarah Tew/CNET

Logitech says you can stream from up to 50 feet away from the speaker (I was able to hit that distance in my tests) and there's a microphone built into the top of the unit, so you get speakerphone capabilities. Additionally, the specs for the product state that there's NFC tap-to-pair for devices that support it, but nothing is mentioned in the instructions about NFC and personally I find the feature useless (once you pair the speaker once, it should pair again automatically.

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