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UE BOOM review: The singing soda can

Usability

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Powering on and pairing the UE BOOM is incredibly simple and requires almost no technical knowledge beyond knowing how to switch stuff on. To pair, simply switch on the speaker by pressing the power button once, then press and hold the dedicated Bluetooth button on the UE BOOM until it starts blinking.

Once that’s done, simply turn on the Bluetooth in the device you wish to connect to the speaker, pair with it and boom, you’re connected. The device also supports what Ultimate Ears calls a “double-up”, where you can daisy chain two separate UE BOOM speakers to either play as a double mono setup or in a left/right stereo configuration.

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The double-up can be set up via the speaker’s dedicated app (search UE BOOM, available for Android and iOS) or with a complicated set of button presses I’m sure most of you wouldn’t bother to remember.

For those of you who will undoubtedly insist I explain how it can be done, what you want to do is press the volume up and Bluetooth button simultaneously on the first UE BOOM that is already connected to your playback device, then switch on the second UE BOOM speaker and press the Bluetooth button twice. An audible confirmation will be played upon a successful double-up.

See what I mean?

Besides doubling up, the dedicated app also brings a whole lot more functionality to your soda can speaker. First off, the app informs you if there are any pending updates for your UE BOOM, updates which could prove crucial to iron out any bugs with the device. The app also allows you to set custom equalisers, allowing you to tune the speakers to your liking, or pick from one of the 4 preset configurations.

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If you turn on “Bluetooth Smart” the app allows you to remotely switch the UE BOOM on or off. However, if you have two speakers in a daisy chain and you switch the second one off remotely, you will have to physically switch it back on again.

For a device with only four physical buttons and no display, it will undoubtedly be an easy device to operate. Couple that with the dedicated app and almost anyone will be able to operate the speaker with ease.

If I had a bone to pick with the device as far as usability is concerned, it would be with the updates. As I touched on earlier, you will be notified of updates via the dedicated app, but to actually install the update on your UE BOOM, you would have to get the app to send you an email with a direct link to the download page.

After you’ve downloaded the update, you will then have to install the software on your computer and connect your speaker to said computer before finally being able to update it. Surely there has to be a simpler method to update a device which otherwise would have great usability.

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