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Scosche BoomBottle H2O review: A compact, bike-friendly Bluetooth speaker that repels water

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Canister-style speakers that fit in your bike's water-bottle holder have been around for a while. In fact, long ago, in the pre-iPhone days, there was the iHome iH85 that used alkaline batteries and had a wired connection for your iPod. Remember that one?

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7.6

Scosche BoomBottle H2O

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The Scosche BoomBottle H2O is a compact, waterproof Bluetooth speaker that offers decent sound for its size and solid 11-hour battery life. It fits in the bottle holder on your bike, can be stood upright on a flat surface, or hung by an included carabiner clip.

The Bad

No speakerphone capabilities; has trouble with bass-heavy material at higher volumes.

The Bottom Line

While it has its sound limitations, particularly in the bass department, the downsized version of Scosche's BoomBottle H2O is a pretty decent little wireless speaker that's travel-friendly and repels water.

Probably not. But compared to Scosche's BoomBottle ($150, £120, but can be found cheaper online) which was released in May 2013, and the newer and smaller BoomBottle H2O ($100, £100), that iHome seems quite primitive. That's because the Scosche speakers use wireless Bluetooth technology and have built-in rechargeable batteries.

In the case of the BoomBottle H2O reviewed here, it's fully waterproof, while the step-up BoomBottle is water-resistant and has a built-in speakerphone. There are tradeoffs with going with the smaller model. It doesn't sound quite as good as its big brother -- and leaves off the speakerphone -- but it's easier to tote around since it's basically half the size.

Scosche Boom Bottle H20 product photos

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Design and Features

Measuring 4.5 inches (115mm) tall with a diameter of 2.83 inches (72mm) and weighing 10.6 ounces (301 grams), the speaker comes in a few different color options and feels solid in your hand, with a soft-to-the-touch rubberized finish. While some people may not love its design, the good news is it doesn't look (or feel) cheap.

As I said, it is waterproof (IP67), and is rated to be submersed in water down to 3 feet (about 1 meter) for up to 30 minutes. The caveat is you have to make sure the ports are properly sealed off. Like all of these water-resistant portable Bluetooth speakers, there's a lid that covers the charging port and audio input (for non-Bluetooth devices). To make that lid easier to lift up, Scosche has added a little strap (the bigger BoomBottle doesn't have it).

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The BoomBottle H2O side by side with its bigger sibling, the BoomBottle. Sarah Tew/CNET

A metal grille covers the speaker driver and it's worth noting that I did manage to dent it when I stuck it into a bag with some shoes and other gear (the speaker worked fine with the dented grill, but my takeaway was that if you use this thing as it's intended to be used, it's going to get a little dinged up).

As far as controls go, there's a power button on the front along with volume up down buttons that are raised and easy to operate by feel if, say, you actually do have the speaker tucked into the water bottle holder of your bike. With no pause/play button or transport controls on the speaker, you'll have to use your smartphone or tablet to control playback (some people like having at least a play/pause button on the speaker itself).

Like most Bluetooth speakers, this has the standard range of 10m or 33 feet. I had no problem holding a connection and the speakers is equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, which makes pairing even easier.

Performance

The speaker has a single 50mm driver and passive bass radiator and sounds decent for a very compact speaker. It doesn't have as much bass as the larger BoomBottle, but it has a reasonable amount of clarity so long as you don't push it too hard with bass-heavy or complicated music.

Most people will end up leaving it resting upright on a table or flat surface and if you stick it in a corner or near a wall you'll get a little more bass. In case you want to hang it from somewhere, there's a loop on top and you'll find a carabiner clip in the box.

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A lid seals off the Micro-USB charging port and audio input. Sarah Tew/CNET

For those trying to decide between this model, and the bigger BoomBottle which has two 40mm drivers, the latter model sounds a little fuller and plays slightly louder, but it's not a night and day difference, so you don't feel like you're giving up too much in the performance department.

That said, you shouldn't expect this to produce meaty bass and it can come off sounding comparatively thin when feeding it hip-hop and techno tracks. For instance, I fed it Janelle Monae's "Q.U.E.E.N." and tried cranking the volume, and it sounded pretty rough.

The speaker charges via Micro-USB and is rated at 11 hours of battery life, which is slightly above average for these types of mini-Bluetooth speakers. If you play your music at more moderate volume levels, you may be able to exceed that number.

Conclusion

While this speaker doesn't offer the sound quality (or maximum sound output) of a more premium canister-style speaker like the UE Boom , it does cost significantly less and offers decent sound for its size, though it does have its limitations.

The BoomBottle H2O's list price is $100 (£100), but once it gets wider distribution, I expect you'll see it for less (the bigger BoomBottle, lists for $150 or £120, but can be had for around $105 or £90 online; the smaller BoomBottle Mini retails for $50 or £50).

The Divoom Voombox Travel (around $50, £50) and Voombox Outdoor (around $100, £100) are arguably slightly better values (at least at this moment), but the BoomBottle H2O is a recommendable speaker that's worth a hard look, particularly if you see it selling for less than list.

scosche-boom-bottle-h20-product-photos06.jpg
7.6

Scosche BoomBottle H2O

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Sound 7Value 7