Finding an affordable, portable Bluetooth speaker that doesn’t sound bad can be tough. Often, quality sound means a higher price, and the lower the price, the more you should expect that a speaker distorts before it gets loud. The minimalist cool look of the Boombotix Boombot Rex portable speaker might temporarily make the $119.99 (direct) price seem justified. The audio performance of this speaker is not fantastic, however. There are distortion issues at high, and even sometimes moderate, volumes. The ruggedized design may seem like a reasonable trade-off for so-so sound but there are other options in this price range that deliver better audio quality and offer similar feature sets.
The Boombot Rex measures 3.2 by 3.4 by 2.2 inches (HWD) with a hexagonal contour. The semi-transparent speaker grille occupies the entire front panel. The speaker comes in solid black, white, green, or blue, along with three stylized limited edition versions that cost $10 more each. You can also buy custom grille kits, which are basically skins, for your speaker. Thanks to its rugged design, you can take this speaker outdoors and expose it to rain or water without issue. It can handle splashes, but not submerging.
Behind the grille is a pair of 3-watt drivers in a side-by-side array, as well as an LED that glows various colors depending on the charging or pairing status. The back panel has a clothing clip, making the Boombot Rex a wearable speaker, though it’s large enough that most will find clipping it on to a shirt, jacket, or pants a bit awkward.
Below the clip, you’ll find a 3.5mm Aux output, a micro-USB connection, and a 3.5mm Aux input. A retractable, winding cable for the Aux input and output is also included. Above the clip are Volume, Power/Pairing, and Play/Pause controls. You can answer phone calls and use the Rex as your speakerphone using the Play/Pause button.
Call clarity is not awesome, but your partner will understand you just fine, and the ability to use it as a speakerphone is a nice feature that many Bluetooth speakers skip. The pairing process is simple and quick. It took me only a few seconds to connect my iPhone 4S to the Rex.
Boombotix rates the Boombot Rex’s internal rechargeable lithium ion battery at about 6 hours of playback per full charge, and it takes approximately an hour to fully charge. Many speakers in this price range ship with a dedicated charger, but the Boombot Rex only includes a micro USB cable.
Despite a north-of-$100 price tag, at top volumes on just about any style of music, this speaker distorts. It’s not intended to power your next party. At reasonable listening levels there’s virtually no bass response, yet whether we’re talking hip hop, rock, jazz, or classical music, the speaker manages to avoid sounding tinny and brittle.
Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” for example, gets enough implied bass response in the lows and low-mids to make the overall sound signature feel full enough—but this only really kicks in when the volume hits mid-level. If you go much louder, the distortion increases. Go lower, and the sound signature loses its bass presence and things begin to sound brittle.
Given the audio quality here, $120 is too much to ask. Still, even with the so-so audio performance, you do get a durable, wearable design and the ability to answer your calls. For more money, things start to sound better, but we don’t see many major improvements until the $200 price range, with models like the Ultimate Ears UE Boom and the Bose SoundLink Mini. And for far less, the $60 Xmi X-Mini Max offers a reasonably solid experience for its budget price.
But here’s the real problem: The Panasonic SC-NT10 easily bests the Boombot Rex in terms of audio performance. It’s dust-proof, shock-proof, splash-proof, comes with a dedicated charger, and is $20 less expensive. Unless you’re in love with the Boombot Rex’s looks, it’s hard to understand why you would choose it over the Panasonic speaker.
|Wireless Remote Control||No|
|Power Rating (Left and Right, Each)||2 x 3 watts RMS|
|Type||iPod, Computer, Wireless, Portable, iPad, iPhone, Android|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc