UE Megaboom review: Top indoor/outdoor portable Bluetooth speaker gets supersized

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The Good The larger UE Megaboom improves on the already impressive sound quality of the Boom, with even louder sound and fuller bass. It's also waterproof, has upgraded Bluetooth range (and Bluetooth Smart) and excellent battery life.

The Bad A bit pricey at $300; no carrying case included.

The Bottom Line The UE Megaboom Bluetooth speaker one-ups its little brother with a range of improvements, including a larger size, bigger sound (particularly on bass), better waterproofing and extended battery life.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Sound 8
  • Value 8

What does UE do for encore after releasing one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers of the last two years? Go bigger, of course, with a larger model appropriately called the UE Megaboom.

Not surprisingly, a bigger speaker means a bigger price, and the Megaboom costs $299.99 and AU$349 in Australia (pricing in the UK yet to be announced) or $100/AU$150 more than the Boom , which remains on the market. While the speaker is just hitting stores now (in January), we got some early review samples and have been playing around with them for a few weeks in advance of the launch.

Now waterproof

Available in several color options, the Megaboom is little over 8 inches tall and roughly twice the volume in size of the original Boom, with a weight of 1.93 pounds. Even though it's bigger, it's still easily transportable and is seems as durable as the original, if not more so thanks to a couple of design improvements.

For starters, it's waterproof (IPX7 certified) instead of water-resistant and can be fully submersed in water for several minutes without getting damaged (we did dunk it). It's also worth noting that the rubber gasket that covers the USB and audio ports has been better integrated into the unit and is easy enough to get open (like with the original Boom, when you unscrew the gasket's fastener, you'll see you have a threaded tripod mount).

The speaker has some other technical upgrades. UE has equipped the speaker with longer-range Bluetooth, and depending on the device you pair with it, you can stray up to 100 feet away from the speaker and still stream audio to it. I did get a few dropouts, but overall playback was pretty smooth.

What you get in the box. Sarah Tew/CNET

Smarter Bluetooth

The Megaboom employs Bluetooth Smart, which allows you to turn the speaker on and off remotely from the free UE app. That app also allows to pair two speakers together -- or even pair the Megaboom with the original Boom -- and it includes equalization features for tweaking the sound along with an alarm function.

I had a little trouble pairing the speakers and making them a left/right stereo pair (you can also join multiple speakers together to augment the sound and better fill out a larger room or outdoor space). It took several attempts to get the stereo pairing set up correctly, but I was using an early version of the new app that probably wasn't entirely bug-free (yes, it will get updated, and the speaker's firmware is upgradable as well).

As you might expect, pairing two speakers together and creating real stereo separation significantly improves the sound quality. That said, $600 is a lot to spend on a pair of speakers and you can certainly get a lot better sound with a pair of $600 wired bookshelf speakers. Of course, the key word there is "wired." If you're reading this review right now, you're probably looking for a portable wireless speaker, not a wired one.

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