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Logitech UE Mobile Boombox review: Logitech UE Mobile Boombox

Logitech's UE Mobile Boombox Bluetooth speaker sports an improved design and slightly better sound than last year's Mini Boombox -- for the same price.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
4 min read

I liked the Mini Boombox, Logitech's first attempt at a tiny portable Bluetooth speaker. I said that it did exactly the same thing as the $175 Jawbone Jambox, and while it didn't do it quite as well -- and wasn't as attractive -- it only cost half as much.


Logitech UE Mobile Boombox

The Good

The <b>Logitech UE Mobile Boombox</b> 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 tiny size.

The Bad

The Mobile Boombox just can't produce a ton of bass.

The Bottom Line

The Logitech UE Mobile Boombox sports an improved design and slightly better sound than last year's Mini Boombox -- for the same price.

Now, under its Ultimate Ears brand, Logitech has put out a sequel to that product, the UE Mobile Boombox. Fundamentally, it's a very similar speaker, but the engineers have made some design improvements and slightly improved the sound while leaving the list price unchanged at $99.99.

Better design
The Mobile Boombox is smaller than the Jambox and weighs in 10.5 ounces (298g). 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.

While the earlier Mini Boombox had touch-sensitive buttons on the top of speaker and a glossy exterior, the Mobile Boombox has a rubberized, more rugged casing, and standard buttons on the top of the device. It comes in a few different colors (I tried the black version) and has an auxiliary input for plugging in audio devices that aren't Bluetooth-enabled (you'll have to supply the cable, however).

The UE Mobile Boombox has a streamlined, more rugged look and feel. Sarah Tew/CNET

One of the reasons behind the rubberized design is that some people complained that when you fed the Mini Boombox bass-heavy material and pumped up its volume, it had a tendency to vibrate and move around, even though it had little rubber feet.

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 close together.

Around back you'll find the power switch, a Micro-USB port for charging the unit (a cable and power adapter are included, but any standard cell phone charger should work), and the aforementioned auxiliary input.

Logitech has simplified the button layout on top of the unit. There's volume up/down buttons, plus a Bluetooth button to set up pairing.

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.

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 it's also worth noting that you can pair up to eight different devices with the speaker, which makes it easy to switch back and forth between those devices (that said, you can only stream audio from one device at a time).

The unit charges via a USB connection on back. A charger and cable are included. Sarah Tew/CNET

The only problem I have with the design is that because there are no raised "feet" on the bottom of the unit (it's just one flat piece of rubberized plastic), I expect that the finish on the bottom will get scuffed up over time, particularly if you use this outside as I did for a few days. In other words, be careful about what surface you place the speaker on.

Good sound for its size
I'm not going to lie to you and say this sounds great. But like I said with the previous model, when you get into the tiny-speaker category, just sounding OK is a feat, and most people should be impressed that such a small speaker can produce fairly decent sound. It can play pretty loudly and puts out a lot more sound than the internal speakers of your typical smartphone or tablet.

The earlier Mini Boombox couldn't handle is a lot of bass at higher volumes. This one can, but only because Logitech's engineers have done a better job making it so the speaker doesn't distort at higher volumes. But it has tendency to sound a little thin and not terribly open or expansive (when reviewing headphones, I refer to this as a "canned" sound, and that description applies here).

Unsurprisingly, where the Mobile Boombox sounded best was on acoustic material and lighter fare. For example, the live acoustic version of Caetano Veloso and David Byrne's "Live at Carnegie Hall" and Adele's "Turning Tables" sounded just fine and made you think you were listening to a larger speaker.

As far as battery life goes, you can run this for about 10 hours before having to recharging it, which is pretty decent. I found that it worked well enough as a speakerphone, though you'll want to keep it within a few feet of you when talking into the integrated microphone (I could hear callers a little better than they could hear me).

In the end, the Logitech UE Mobile Boombox is thoughtfully designed and offers some small but significant improvements over the earlier Mini Boombox.

Typically, when a company improves a product, I'd grade it a little higher than the earlier model. But in the last year, a plethora of tiny Bluetooth speakers have come onto the market for around this price and while I think the Mobile Boombox is better than most in this price range, its sound quality doesn't do enough to put it head-and-shoulders above the rest. So this gets 3.5 stars -- just like the last model. It's very good for the money, just not great.


Logitech UE Mobile Boombox

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 6