(Pocket-lint) - Standing out in the overcrowded Bluetooth speaker market is tough. But it's being not only tough but also adaptable, as is the case of the Fugoo speaker, which marks its point of difference. Three jacket options - Style, Sport and Tough - are available, so you choose which to buy to suit your needs.
The Fugoo - named after Fugu, the somewhat risky Japanese puffer fish delicacy - is waterproof, mud-proof, drop-proof and shock-proof in its naked "Core-X" format. No risk involved of an untimely death here then.
But as Bluetooth speakers go, does the Fugoo's jacket-based differentiator separate it from the established pack, and does it actually sound good?
No Jacket Required
Without a jacket attached the Fugoo works just fine in its Core-X format. Problem is it just looks pretty awful.
But there's a reason for its looks: the Core-X sports a reinforced case with co-moulded seals and shock absorbers to protect the internal drivers and tech. The end caps, for example, are able to absorb impact on all eight corners while the seals protect the speakers from the elements such as water (to a depth of up to 3ft), snow, dust, and sand.
Where the trio of jacket options come in to their own is by providing even more protection, along with an aesthetic far easier on the eyes. To pretty things up even more there are different colours options available too.
The Tough jacket (which we didn't have in for review) turns rugged into ultra-rugged thanks to a fibre-reinforced resin and aluminium frame; Sport adds rubberised edges for some added protection; while the material finish of Style looks best in our opinion, without costing the Core-X any of its versatility.
You choose which jacket comes in the Fugoo box (Style costs £150, Sport £180, and Tough £200), while the remaining two jacket options can be purchased individually should you wish.
Not content with just interchangeable jackets, the Fugoo speaker also comes with a range of optional accessories including a bike/buggy mount and a strap that means you can tie it to a tree, bench, bag, or pretty much anywhere.
There's also a wrist-wearable Bluetooth smart remote control (which also houses a bottle opener) that can pair with the Fugoo to control from a distance, if you can't or don't want to use your phone's connection.
In terms of audio ability, the Fugoo, like many Bluetooth speakers of late, has opted for a 360-degree sound experience. That means you can dump it in the middle of a room or on a picnic rug for omni-directional sound rather than just in a single direction. It works well too.
In total there are six drivers - two tweeters, two mid/woofers, and two passive radiators - that are strategically placed around all four sides of the product to deliver sound in all directions. And thanks to these drivers the Fugoo can produce sound louder than you might expect from this scale.
For techies out there, audio can reach up to 95 decibels. Those bass radiators enable the Fugoo to handle a frequency range from 60Hz-20KHz, the lower figure meaning you'll get a kick of bass from this little speaker. As an aside we found putting it in a plastic waste paper basket allowed the bass to shine even more.
It does a good job of delivering well balanced audio regardless of which jacket you've put on it, so whether you are listening to Taylor Swift or NOFX there's admirable punch.
Juice in, juice out
On the battery front you get 40 hours of playback from a single charge and the speakers are fully charged again in 3.5 hours via a fast charging Micro-USB charger, which is included in the box.
It's even possible to steal juice for your other devices by plugging them into the Fugoo, which doubles-up as a sort-of battery pack - a new feature many speakers include.
For those who want to use the speaker as a speakerphone rather than for playing tunes, the Fugoo is full-duplex capable. Sound is clear and the omni-directional microphone with echo cancellation and background noise reduction means those on the other end can hear you loud and clear. Unless you're up a mountain or something.
The Fugoo Bluetooth speaker has surprised us. Not only due to its waterproofing and ultra-tough build, but because it sounds top notch too. It delivers well balanced audio that certainly gives its competitors something to chew on.
Part of the appeal is really going to be the design and the swapability of those jackets, although you can just buy the one and stick with it. If you aren't fussed about that feature then you'll easily find cheaper and smaller speakers available though.
If you want decent sound wrapped into a good quality build then (and despite its name) there's no risk in trying out this Fugoo.