Perhaps the biggest nod in the UE BOOM’s favour is its build and the way it looks. I love it. Sure it kind of looks like a soda can and that might put some of you off, but I think that’s a great little quirk.
From the side, the UE BOOM also looks a little like a pencil box, with that long rubberised strip running from the top of the speaker all the way to the bottom. The speaker grille is protected by a water resistant fabric, stitched in a crisscross pattern, encompassing the whole speaker. This rubber and fabric work together to give the speaker unit an IPX4 water-resistant rating, giving you peace of mind if you’re the type that wants to bring this into the bathroom for one of your shower-oke sessions.
At the front of the device you will find the enormous volume up and volume down keys which won’t work if you press anywhere other than dead centre. The button mechanism is built pretty solid and each button press is satisfyingly clicky through the rubber membrane.
Around the top of the device you will find the power and bluetooth pairing buttons, both of which share the volume rockers’ satisfying click. On the opposite end lies the micro-USB charging port with a little LED, a 3.5mm Aux-in jack and a ‘D-Ring’.
The D-Ring acts as a hook so you can clip the speaker to a backpack, attach to the wall or if you’re feeling baller enough, hang it from your neck. It can also be unscrewed to reveal a port that can be used to mount the speaker unit onto a tripod, bringing your music enjoyment to greater heights. Ultimate Ears also bundles a little rubber flap that fits between the D-Ring and acts as a cover for both ports for when things get a little wet.
Aesthetically, I think the UE BOOM looks great. It is simple, it is elegant and it can also fit into more cup holders than my actual cup. Sure, some party people may complain about the lack of an LED display running along the speaker grille, but I’ve always felt that to be a tad excessive.
I much prefer this sleek and clean design that is as inconspicuous as it is effective. Of course, during the day this is only inconspicuous if you get one in a colour other than Pink Vibe or Superhero, but if you’re using it in the dark, I don’t think the colour would matter that much.
The device is relatively small (about the size of a 500ml water bottle) and should fit easily in the palm of the average person. Its fabric and rubber construction gives it a good grip and also gives it limited protection against bumps and scratches. It is quite hefty though weighing in at 538g, so carrying it around for extended periods of time could lead to unwanted muscle development.
This thing is also built like a tank. Every part of the speaker tube fits fantastically well and I could not find any breaks in the seam where the fabric ends and the rubberised strip begins. The device doesn’t flex when pressure is applied and the fabric covering it doesn’t shift around either when it’s twisted or rubbed.
It had no problem surviving my bowl test either, when I rolled it across the floor at a row of neatly-stacked styrofoam cylinders. The rubber covering the top and the bottom of the speaker unit was also surprisingly resilient to scratches that can come from being placed on rough outdoor surfaces like gravel, sand and tarmac.