Logitech’s UE Boom portable speaker: How on earth did they get something so big out of something so small?

UE Boom: like a bottle with a ship, only louder



Logitech’s Ultimate Ears UE Boom speakers . . . pack one in your luggage so you can listen to music in your hotel



Likes Great sound, dead simple to use

Dislikes Waterproof fabric cover isn’t interchangeable

Price $199

Ultimate Ears says it based the design of its portable speaker, the UE Boom, on a water bottle. When the device is switched off, it’s easy enough to believe that it’s some sort of a drinking bottle. The UE Boom, which boosts the sound of your mobile phone or tablet, turning it into a sort of boombox, is roughly the same size and weight as a 600ml water bottle, and weighs about the same. (For anyone keeping score, the UE Boom is 18 centimetres high, 6.5 centimetres in diameter, and weighs 538 grams. So it’s a shade under a 600ml bottle.) But start playing music through this device, and it’s entirely another sort of bottle that comes to mind: one of those old wine bottles with a miniature sailing ship in it, that leaves you wondering “How on earth did they manage to get something so big into something so small?”Though, in the case of the UE Boom, you’re left pondering a question that runs in quite the opposite direction. How on earth did they get something so big out of something so small?

The sound that comes out of the UE Boom is so big, so rich and spacious, that when you first listen to it, it’s actually quite a shock. When I first heard the device, it occurred to me that another, bigger speaker had just come on somewhere else in the room. I found myself picking the thing up, and moving it around in front of my face, just to check that it really was the UE Boom playing my music. It was.

More or less the same thing happened to a friend of mine who was in my office while I was testing the Boom. Apologising that I couldn’t turn the Boom down or off because I was testing its battery life (which is itself quite amazing, by the way), I picked the speaker up and moved it to the other side of my desk. My friend was shocked. He pointed at a much bigger speaker unit also on my desk (a Sonos Play:5) and said he had been sure the sound had been coming out of that the whole time.

Now, I’m not talking about miracle sound here. The UE Boom is, after all, only the size of drinking bottle, so don’t expect a deep, thumping bass from it. Playing something super-bassy like James Blake’s Limit to Your Love, the lack of a bottom-end to the sound from the UE Boom is almost comical. Half the song sounds missing. This is no substitute for real hi-fi, not by a long shot.

But it’s not meant to be. The UE Boom is the water- and stain-resistant, battery-operated speaker you take with you to the park or to the beach, to share your music with your friends. It’s the speaker you pack in your luggage, so you can listen to your music in your hotel room.


And for that purpose, it’s brilliant to the point of bordering on miraculous. There are quite a few products like this on the market, but this is the best I’ve ever heard by some margin. I’m listening to it now, and I still don’t quite believe the sound.

And I’m only listening to one of them. The UE Boom connects to your mobile phone or your tablet using Bluetooth, and using UE’s controller app on your Android or iOS device, you can actually pair two of them to your phone at the same time, and have one of them playing the left stereo channel while the other one plays the right. I’ve heard that configuration (albeit very briefly) and that sounds even better.

Ultimate Ears, now owned by Logitech, is the company that invented the in-ear monitors that musicians wear, and obviously it knows a thing or two about audio.

The controller app also tells you other things about your UE Boom, such as how much battery life you have left. We got an impressive 17 hours of loud, spacious music in our tests.

But don’t take my word for it. I am, after all, a little deaf. Before you buy a UE Boom, listen to one for yourself. Hearing is believing. Or in this case, not believing.

Not quite.

The Australian Financial Review

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

One Response to Logitech’s UE Boom portable speaker: How on earth did they get something so big out of something so small?

  1. Pak King says:

    You should know the UE Boom battery is “proprietary” and no replacement is ever going to be available. All Logitech can offer is “the product has a two year warranty”. I’d will suggest for those that bought it (Got Suckered) taking it back with the ‘expired’ lithium battery a week before that two years is up. This is appalling. Knowing this, I will never buy a Logitech item ever.

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