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UE Roll 2 review: Waterproof Bluetooth speaker plays louder, has better range

Ultimate Ears' second-generation version of its popular flying-saucer portable wireless speaker offers improved performance and comes in five color options.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

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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 e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.

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The UE Roll was one of my favorite compact Bluetooth speakers of 2015 and now there's a sequel: the UE Roll 2, which offers a couple of modest improvements over the original. For starters, it plays louder. About 15 percent louder according to UE. More importantly, it has a longer wireless range of up to 30 meters or 98 feet. And it ships with a UE Floatie, so you can take it into the pool with you right out of the box.

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8.3

UE Roll 2

The Good

The UE Roll 2 is a compact, waterproof Bluetooth speaker with a unique design, very good sound for its size, and decent battery life. It has an integrated bungee cord and an included inflatable life preserver that allows it to float in water. New version has better wireless range and plays a little louder.

The Bad

It has no speakerphone capabilities.

The Bottom Line

Overall, while this may not seem like much of an upgrade over the original, the UE Roll 2 is a better speaker and clearly one of the top mini Bluetooth speakers on the market.

That's right, this speaker is completely waterproof and can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. However, it doesn't float, which is why you need to the Floatie accessory to keep it above water.

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What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The speaker looks identical and weighs virtually the same (330 grams or 11.6 ounces) as the original Roll (332 grams or 11.7 ounces), with the same integrated bungie cord, which comes in handy, allowing you to hang the speaker from a hook or attach it to a backpack or even your belt clip. Battery life is the same at around 9 hours and the price is, too: $100, £79 or AU$149 (will be available in Australia later this year).

For me anyway, the extended wireless is the key upgrade here. I tested the original Roll and Roll 2 in the same pool and found that the original Roll's connection got spotty as the speaker floated toward the deep end of the pool when I was standing about 40 feet away. However, I didn't have a problem with the Roll 2 -- the wireless connection remained steady and hiccup-free.

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The UE Roll 2 makes a great pool companion.

David Carnoy/CNET

As far as sound goes, though the Roll 2 can only deliver so much bass (read: it sounds a little thin with some tracks), it sounds very good for a speaker this size. The step-up UE Boom 2, which costs twice as much, is going to provide bigger sound with somewhat better bass. But a lot of people will appreciate how easily portable the Roll 2 is.

It's worth mentioning that if you're willing to buy two of the speakers, you can pair them together to augment the sound (via the UE Roll app).

To be clear, if you have have the original Roll and you're happy with it, you certainly don't need to get the sequel. That said, the Roll 2 is a better speaker and clearly one of the top mini Bluetooth speakers on the market.

The UE Roll 2's key specs:

  • Outputs 15 percent more sound.
  • Has a longer wireless range of 100 feet.
  • Colors: tropical anime, volcano, reef, sugarplum, habanero and atmosphere
  • Completely waterproof (IPX7)
  • 9 hours of battery life
  • Bungee cord loop to hang the speaker anywhere; you can attach it to a bag, bike or belt loop
  • Includes UE Floatie, a small blow-up doughnut
  • $100, £79 or AU$149 (available in Australia later this year)
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8.3

UE Roll 2

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Sound 7Value 8