UE Boom – 16 hours and counting

View of the beach from Alki Surf Shop, April 2015

View of the beach from Alki Surf Shop, April 2015

My beach bum husband and I agree, there are few things more awesome than hanging out at our store on Alki Beach while the sun is shining.

But one thing that makes it even better is listening to music that puts everyone in a great mood.

We had been using a JBL Flip 2 bluetooth speaker to pipe music out to the sidewalk. The music helps people notice us and entices them to come in. We often see people dancing on the sidewalk before making their way up the steps to our store.

Hand-painted signs on the steps

Hand-painted signs on the steps

Recently, thanks to @TheOnlineMom and #vzwbuzz, I had a chance to try out the UE Boom bluetooth speaker.

The UE Boom is fantastic!

First of all, the 360° design is a cylinder of sound. There is a rich bass and clarity that makes the sound seem almost dimensional. And the capacity for delivering volume is unbelievable. IT. IS. LOUD.

The beauty of a bluetooth speaker is not having to hassle with cables and cords when pairing with a music source.  We had our JBL Flip 2 sitting on an outdoor window shelf, which worked well for its promised 5 hours of battery life.

The plus and minus signs are actual controls for the volume

The plus and minus signs are actual controls for the volume

The UE Boom says its battery lasts for 15 hours.  But, guess what? It’s not really true.

When fully charged, the UE Boom kept playing for 16 HOURS. And would probably have kept going, but I finally needed to go to sleep.

What follows is a look at the endurance test I gave the UE Booms’ battery:

9 AM The UE Boom providing the soundtrack to my work day. There is an impressive spectrum of resonant sound. (I could feel the strings vibrate at the end of “I’m Just a Girl!”)

1 PM In my car, I had to turn off my console because it seemed to interfere with the ability of the iPhone to “speak” to the UE Boom. But once I did, it filled my car with sound. I’d never thought about using a bluetooth speaker in a car before, but it made me think it could be great for people who don’t have bluetooth or USB in their cars.

1:30 PM First stop, Unified Grocers, where I had a chance to meet with Al Burleson. My iPhone and the UE Boom kept playing in my car because I wanted the speaker to be in continuous use.

2:30 PM At Alki Surf Shop, we just started selling some Aloha shirts made in Honolulu by Robert J. Clancy. So we needed a cascading arm for our slat wall as well as some nice hangers. That’s where Grand & Benedict came in. That’s where we buy our store fixtures.

3 PM When I finally arrived at Alki Surf Shop, I swapped out the JBL with the UE Boom for the next 4.5 hours until it was time to head home.

Beside amazing sound quality, the UE Boom has a handy little hanging clip on the top which I used to anchor the speaker to the window frame. That way it couldn’t accidentally fall off and hit someone below. But the clip could effectively allow you to suspend the speaker in the air, emitting sound in all directions. It’s a small but a pretty nice little feature.

The hanging option means it's possible to enjoy 360-degree sound

The hanging option means it’s possible to enjoy 360-degree sound

Another cool option is, you can pair TWO speakers to a single device. That means, if we want to pipe the same music inside the store as outside, we can. And because you can adjust the volume on the individual speakers, you have more music outside than in.

There is a “+” and “-“ on the body, which are graphic elements but also function as the volume controls. They look nice, but they are recessed from the outer surface, and I fear they could become dust collectors. They look like they’d be difficult to clean, so I covered them with a piece of clear packing tape to prevent to keep them free of debris.

7:30 PM I kept the speaker going on my way home, then kept it playing at a low volume throughout the evening.

9 PM The power light apparently turns red when the power is low. By the time I noticed it, it had been going for 12 hours.

The power light turns red when the battery is low

The power light turns red when the battery is low

2 AM I don’t know if the volume made any difference in the battery use, but after 16 hours, I was ready to call it quits. Yes, folks, it continued 16 hours, and maybe would have kept going longer if I’d let it. The UE Boom outlasted my capacity to listen!

The UE Boom is one of the most fun, utilitarian and excellent tech gadgets I’ve had a chance to use. It’s twice as expensive as the JBL, but clearly you get more than three times the speaker. If I’d known about it when I was shopping for a speaker, I would’ve gladly paid the difference. If you’re in the market for a bluetooth speaker, the UE Boom is worth every cent.


Alki Surf Shop: http://alkisurfshop.com/

Terri Nakamura: https://twitter.com/terrinakamura

*vzwbuzz is the social media hashtag used by Verizon Wireless.

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A Lime-green Burst of Music and Talk

Charles Horsfall photo by Sheela Santos

Charles Horsfall, photo by Sheela Santos

I’m not a workout fanatic, but I like to walk, so the Plantronics Backbeat Fit wasn’t subjected to the same kind of abuse as someone who does an extreme cardio workout.

That being said, the headphones are easy to set up. For me, it took five minutes or less, including the installation of the Backbeat Fit app.

The first thing I did was try playing a song with the music app, and  I was happy to find the sound quality was crystal clear. I’m not a headphone expert, but already I am thinking this is a great upgrade, and my standard-issued Apple headphones will be buried in my bag for back-up.

There are features for controlling the music with the headphones. Music can be paused and the volume can be adjusted. Unfortunately there is no track skipping functionality. Maybe this is something that can be added in the future.

Plantronics headset photo by Terri Nakamura

Plantronics Backbeat Fit headset, photo by Terri Nakamura

There is a non-adjustable band that wraps around the back of your head and I found it to be comfortable. I didn’t try the arm band, but suspect the same care was taken to ensure comfort and usability.

Making phone calls with the Plantronics Backbeat Fit headphones works the way you’d expect. There’s a single button for answering and hanging up. The play/pause button is used to mute a call, and you are notified by a sound when it is on or off. (The button is located on the left headphone, call button on the right).

Holding the call button also allows you to use voice commands, but it isn’t the greatest—at least on the iPhone 5S. I think it has more to do with Siri than anything than any shortcomings of the headphones.

I’m getting some nice feedback from friends, but most of all, it’s great trying out this new gadget.

Plantronics Backbeat Fit photo by Terri Nakamura

Plantronics Backbeat Fit, photo by Terri Nakamura

Guest post by Charles Horsfall, freelance writer

Edited by Terri Nakamura

Photos by Terri Nakamura and Sheela Santos, taken with a Nokia Lumia Icon provided by Verizon Wireless #vzwbuzz