Boom Urchin Bluetooth Speaker: A Rugged Adventurer’s Changeling Companion [Review]
What really sets the youthful, rough-and-tumble Boom Urchin apart from the rest of its brethren in the crowded Bluetooth speaker market is its flexibility.
Like other ruggedized BT speakers, the Urchin can withstand splashes and moderate abuse — but Boom has also equipped the Urchin with a smart array of effective, fun, useful little accessories that allow the Urchin to easily tag along on adventures that might be awkward for other speakers.
Kicking off the Urchin’s highlights is its ability to be modified to fit its environment; no other speaker I’ve ever played with seems so affably adaptable. three included attachment options — a small carabiner, a knobbed suction cup and a sticky disk with a threaded shaft attempt to take care of pretty much any conceivable mounting scenario.
The trio mostly succeed in their mission. The most used accessory of the three during the test was the suction cup. Its threaded knob is shaped to fit in the little loop on the end of the Urchin’s silicon cover. It stuck easily to practically any smooth surface and didn’t let go, essentially becoming a sturdy yet easy-to-reposition hook for the speaker.
The carabiner looks good and was fine for dangling the Urchin from a backpack or pants; the speaker’s somewhat portly dimensions and weight were offset by its flat bottom, which mitigated swinging motion while moving. I didn’t get a chance to test the last attachment, a sticky disk with a threaded shaft that screws into a hole on the bottom of the speaker. The primary reason for this is that I cross-threaded the post while trying to screw it in. I’m not sure why it was such a pain. I’ve spent countless hours bolting, screwing, unscrewing and threading bits together as a bike mechanic, so it probably wasn’t from lack of experience.
If that’s not enough, Boom sells an optional $20 bike mount for the Urchin that clamps around the handlebars, stem and possibly the seatpost.
Of course, any ruggedized speaker is only as good as its ability to shrug off water and absorb the kind of abuse dished out by elemental forces and/or during wild carousing.
The Urchin proved up the task here also. It shrugged off water while stuck (via its handy suction cup) to the shower wall; and it came away unscathed after I accidentally let a small wave wash over it while shooting images on the beach. Cleaning off the sand afterward was simply a matter of quickly rinsing it under a mildly running faucet.
Battery life and range were also above average. I ran it moderately for about a week before having to charge it — perhaps ten hours total — and I was able to walk perhaps 30 feet away indoors before the Bluetooth signal started dropping.
Rounding out the good stuff is the Urchin’s ability to swap silicon skin colors at $20 a pop.
Kicking off the Urchin’s highlights is its ability to be modified to fit its environment; no other speaker I’ve ever played with seems so affably adaptable.
All that’s great, but audio and speakerphone performance is where the Urchin takes a bit of a hit. Sound isn’t bad, but it’s not that fantastic — on par with smaller BT speakers at about the $100 range like UE’s Mini Boombox. There’s simply not enough oomph or bass; on the other hand, the sound is fairly clear.
Speakerphoning sucked. No one was able to hear me properly. It’s possible I somehow obstructed the microphones when swapping skins (which itself was maddeningly frustrating — it took me ages to get the port that seals the aux and micro-USb ports to fit properly).
For rough-and-tumble adventurists not overly concerned with sound quality (or teleconferencing), the Urchin’s flexibility makes a compelling argument: “Take me with you,” it pleads. Good for a day at the beach, or maybe Howard Stern in the shower, or a little NPR on a bike commute. Those who tend toward audiphilic tastes should head elsewhere.
|Product Name: Boom UrchinThe Good: This little guy will go anywhere; and I mean, anywhere.The Bad: Sound needs improvement.
Verdict: You can take it anywhere — but will you want to?
Buy from: Boom