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Ultimate Ears is known for its line of rugged, waterproof speakers that come in bright colors and offer high-quality sound at prices that aren't exorbitant.

In October, Ultimate Ears expanded its product lineup with two new flagship devices, the Blast and the Megablast, successors to the Boom 2 and the Megaboom, with revamped designs and, for the first time, Wi-Fi support with Amazon Alexa integration.

blastmegablast-800x600.jpg

I tested the new Ultimate Ears speakers, and I liked the addition of Alexa integration, especially in a wire-free device. There were, however, some limitations and caveats that may not make this the best speaker for everyone.

Design

Blast and Megablast don't look too different from previous-generation Ultimate Ears speakers, but they do sport a new, more modern design with a flatter top and less rounded edges for a decidedly cleaner and sleeker appearance.

They use the same cylindrical design as past speakers, offering 360 degree sound. The top and the bottom of the Blast and Megablast feature a soft rubber material with bluetooth/power/Alexa buttons and access to a charging port, while most of the rest of the speaker is made from a matching mesh.

blastdesign-800x600.jpg

Both speakers continue to feature prominent "+" and "-" buttons that are used for controlling volume. Some people don't like these buttons because of the resemblance to a cross, but I've always been a fan of the bold look and easy-access volume controls. The speakers each come in a range of colors, including Blue Steel, Merlot, Blizzard, and Graphite. The Megablast I have on hand is Blue Steel, while the Blast is Merlot, and both colors are subdued and even elegant, able to match well with any decor.


Click here to read more...

Article Link: Review: Ultimate Ears' New Blast and Megablast Speakers Bring Alexa Integration But Sacrifice Features
 

Smartass

macrumors 65816
Dec 18, 2012
1,258
1,299
i have three Boom 2 speakers and ability to connect them to each other is really great. Plus i got each for 100€ and they are well worth it. This new version with this stupid Alexa thingy? i dont want it.
 

Bacillus

Suspended
Jun 25, 2009
2,681
2,200
The HomePod void is so massive that every accessory maker jumps in
(yes, yes I know that it's targeted differently but a non-existent thing isn't targeted at all)
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2012
797
511
Oakland, CA
The HomePod void is so massive that every accessory maker jumps in
(yes, yes I know that it's targeted differently but a non-existent thing isn't targeted at all)
Strange thing is the HomePod is not targeting ruggedized general use like the Boom 2.


Apple has really dragged its heals in the wireless speaker category.

If they did a waterproof, wireless charging rugged version of the HomePod with apple’s improved BT sync it would be a great.

I don’t know why they seem solely focused on the home Alexa thing, yet still unable to get a product released.
 
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sidewinder3000

macrumors 65816
Jan 29, 2010
1,089
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Chicagoland
Wait, so the mid-tier speaker goes from $199 to $229, loses the ability to pair two for stereo, adds voice control that doesn’t work with the two dominant music streaming services, and can’t charge while upright?

Where do I sign up?
 
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sidewinder3000

macrumors 65816
Jan 29, 2010
1,089
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Chicagoland
It always surprises me that reviewers fail to mention that every Bluetooth speaker works with Siri/Apple Music via your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. Once connected, I use my phone or watch to control and change music all the time and it works great. And I prefer whispering into my watch or phone over yelling commands out to a speaker in the middle of the room (especially when I’m with other people) any day of the week.

Alexa is cool. And does some nice things. But it needs to be communicated that there is a lot of voice control for music (etc.) that’s been available for years with the stuff most of us already have on hand.
 
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haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
6,099
4,901
It always surprises me that reviewers fail to mention that every Bluetooth speaker works with Siri/Apple Music via your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. Once connected, I use my phone or watch to control and change music all the time and it works great. And I prefer whispering into my watch or phone over yelling commands out to a speaker in the middle of the room (especially when I’m with other people) any day of the week.

Alexa is cool. And does some nice things. But it needs to be communicated that there is a lot of voice control for music (etc.) that’s been available for years with the stuff most of us already have on hand.
Exactly my thought.
 

redneckitengineer

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2017
420
937
Here’s an idea for Apple.... make the HomePod with a battery. Thatd be kind of awesome to have Siri and Apple Music in a device you can take to the shed or out in the backyard hammock.

I had the original Boom from UE, it was by far my favorite portable speaker. This Alexa controlled stuff is getting out of control, I don’t need 20+ Alexa devices all answering when I call her name.
 

wolfshades

macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2007
472
610
Toronto, Ontario Canada


There are no physical controls for pausing music or changing songs -- these things must be done using Alexa integration or your connected iOS device. No on-device control is something of a step back, because both the Boom 2 and the Megaboom have tap gestures for skipping and pausing songs, and I think that's something a lot of people are going to miss.

Really? We’re going to miss that? I’ve never been able to get those functions to work. Well not “never” but it certainly is an unwieldy and awkward process. “Pick it up, tilt it a bit and double-tap to move to the next song.” Yeah right. I’ve tapped the hell out of that sometimes, to no avail. Easier to hop out of the tub, grab the iPhone or Apple Watch and move to the next song using either of those.
 

Phonephreak

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2017
572
530
Here and there
It always surprises me that reviewers fail to mention that every Bluetooth speaker works with Siri/Apple Music via your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. Once connected, I use my phone or watch to control and change music all the time and it works great. And I prefer whispering into my watch or phone over yelling commands out to a speaker in the middle of the room (especially when I’m with other people) any day of the week.

Alexa is cool. And does some nice things. But it needs to be communicated that there is a lot of voice control for music (etc.) that’s been available for years with the stuff most of us already have on hand.
Isn’t that kinda like saying that any bt speaker works with any brand smart phone. Siri/Alexa/google. Whatever.
 

sidewinder3000

macrumors 65816
Jan 29, 2010
1,089
1,201
Chicagoland
That it’s understood how a bt speaker works. Why would you write an article about it. Yes you can connect any smartphone to any bt speaker and use it.
The entire point I’m making is that these manufacturers are making a huge deal about “Alexa integration” and failing to put it in proper context for the kind of regular consumers who don’t use these forums. The don’t have to “write an article about it”. But they could remind consumers that the functionality of these devices has a huge overlap with what they likely already own. There’s an obsession with having all this voice recognition built into a speaker or device, which seems like it’d have been huge news, I dunno, 11 years ago. But in an age when the vast majority of adults have their iPhone/Siri or Android/Googlelady within arms reach, it’s much ado about nothing to act like these speakers are all that earth shattering. “Wouldn’t it be great if you could yell at a speaker across the room about the weather instead of having to ask the device that’s within arms reach (or actually on your arm) 90% of the day?”

Don’t get me wrong, cheap little connected terminals can be usefull devices. Especially for young kids or people without smartphones. But I’m betting that if most people knew that the majority of what these things can do is already covered by the smartphone they already own, they wouldn’t be selling nearly as much as they are.

Isn’t that kind of context that tech reporters should be sharing with their readers? Instead of acting like each new gadget exists in a vacuum and that it’s existence somehow proves it’s intrinsic value? I think so.
 
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