(Pocket-lint) - Ultimate Ears has announced that it's getting into the smart speaker game with the UE Blast and Megablast, a pair of Alexa-powered speakers.
While we all accept that the Amazon Echo was a game-changing device, the biggest criticism of Amazon's smart speaker was the sound quality. That's something that Amazon are addressing with the new Echo and Echo Plus, but there's also a huge opening for speaker manufacturers to get smart.
UE are known for its great Boom Bluetooth speakers, but now there's the Blast and Megablast, which split off to form a new family of properly connected devices, while still hanging on to many of the things that made the UE Boom popular in the first place.
For starters there's the design. The UE Blast keeps the colour and the use of textures - including rubber - to give you a distinctive design of speaker. You still have the bold volume controls on the sides and that 360-degree sound, while also retaining the waterproofing and rugged looks.
Speaking of sound, the Blast speakers deliver that meaty audio that the Boom 2 and Megaboom are known for, with rich powerful bass and plenty of volume. Be gone, weak sound performance, you've no place in the modern connected home!
What really makes the UE Blast and UE Megablast different from all the other Alexa speakers that we've seen so far is that they are also battery powered. That means that you can take Alexa on the move with you, giving you a distinct advantage over a speaker like the new Sonos One.
However, the fun doesn't stop there, as UE is also offering a charging base accessory, which means that you can effectively dock your speaker in your kitchen for use on a day-to-day basis, which is exactly how the Amazon Echo has been used by many.
When you want to use it in another room or in the garden, you just grab it and go, making it a lot more flexible than many of the other premium Alexa speakers that we've seen launch recently.
Of course, it still works as a Bluetooth speaker, so if you're taking it on a picnic, it just becomes a waterproof speaker that looks great, sounds great and basically is great, with the added advantage that you could use the Wi-Fi to connect to your phone's hotspot for Alexa anywhere.
You'll get full control through Alexa Voice Services, so you'll be able to ask questions, shop on Amazon, control your smart home and play music from services like Amazon Music or TuneIn. Like the Sonos One, however, there won't be full support for Spotify at launch, although it's on the company's radar and planned for the future in an update.
The UE Blast will cost £199, while the UE Megablast - the loudest speaker that UE have ever made - will be £269. The optional base will be £34.99 and yes, it's a shame that it doesn't come in the box.
Pre-orders are now open, with deliveries expected in late-October.