(Pocket-lint) - UE is back with the Wonderboom, the latest Bluetooth speaker to join the Boom party. And this time it's going small.
Like the UE Roll 2, this speaker takes things smaller, making it even easier to port around its fun brand of Bluetooth music, but doing it so much better than 2014's Mini Boom. This might be a smaller Boom, but the Wonderboom sound is still big.
Rocking out with a £90 price tag, this could also be the most wonderful UE Boom to date.
UE Wonderboom review: Palm-sized Bluetooth Boom
- 105 x 95mm
- IPX7 waterproofing
- Wonderboom floats
The Wonderboom takes that now iconic UE speaker design and squashes it down into a barrel shape. Yes, it looks like a grenade and that's perhaps entirely fitting for this explosive little speaker.
Funky colours - grey, black, blue, red, pink and lilac - are the order of the day, with 360-degree mesh meeting the harder rubberised ends. The top offers up the controls, with three buttons hiding under the rubberised finish, letting you control the power, Bluetooth pairing, as well as pairing to another Wonderboom. Then there's those distinctively massive volume controls.
The barrel shape gives this speaker and indestructible feel, something that's common to all the UE Boom speakers. It's not just a solid feel, this is a "lifeproof" speaker, happy to take a bit of rough: it's waterproof with an IPX7 rating and it floats, too, so if you drop it in the pool then it really doesn't matter.
It also won't care if it gets kicked by accident, but we've not stress tested it to the extremes of drop kicking it - it's far too cool and we'd rather have a speaker than not. The shape also means it feels like a speaker that's ready to be tossed around and we've spent some time playing catch with the Wonderboom and it's totally happy to party on.
There's a small loop to the top that's designed to give you a way of hanging this speaker up - it's perfect for a hook on the back of the bathroom door, or just to attach somewhere so you don't lose it.
There's one downside of the design that we've found: the shape means that if you give the top-mounted power button a solid press, the speaker might fall over, because the base isn't squared. It's not a huge deal by any measure, just something to be careful of when you first jab that button.
UE Wonderboom review: An explosion of sound
- 360-degree sound
- 10-hour battery life, Micro-USB charging
- 30m Bluetooth range
The Wonderboom follows the path set by previous Boom speakers, offering 360-degree sound, so it really doesn't matter where you are, you still get the music. This works a little better than the Megaboom, as it does sound just as good from all directions.
It's not the clearest Bluetooth speaker out there, but that's not the point. The point is that you can and will take this speaker with you wherever you go - pool, boat, camping, in the shower - and it really doesn't matter.
That default sound profile means you get a good meaty kick of bass. If you want to pop, rock or rave your way through the weekend then the Wonderboom will get you there.
Bass can typically lack from smaller speakers, but fear not, the Wonderboom might be a smaller speaker, but it will still shovel out loads of bass. It sounds best when you find a solid surface to put it on - but we're impressed with the power it offers in various conditions.
The big plus and minus buttons on the front might look a little Christian in their placement, but are really easy to hit when you want to shift the volume up or down. One of the things we like the most about this speaker is that the low-level balance is still good: you can listen to this at low volumes and it sounds good, as it does when you crank it up, without too much distortion.
The battery life is average, however, giving you about 10 hours of music. There are now Bluetooth speakers that will give you longer play time. There's a Micro-USB in the base for charging so if you've moved to USB Type-C on your phone, you'll have to remember to take the right cable.
UE Wonderboom review: A perfect pairing
- One-touch pairing for stereo
We mentioned stereo pairing previously and this is one of the fun things about the UE Boom speakers - you can easily pair them up to expand the music. That applies to the UE Wonderboom too. With a simple long press of the UE button on the top, you can have the speakers pair for stereo output. It's easy.
That brings a lot of advantages to a small speaker like this. Firstly, as it's only £90 you might consider buying two from the off - or buying one for each of your kids - knowing that pairing them up is a great way to use these speakers. We've found the connection to be very stable too - and as type of ad hoc pairing can lead to all sorts of confusion, it's great that UE has nailed it here.
While one Wonderboom is a great performer in its own right, when you have a perfect pair the music sounds that much sweeter, letting you place speakers across the room playing in perfect synchronicity. The volume controls then work across the pair too, meaning you can turn them up and down from the either speaker or from the source.
One downside is that there's no app to control the sound profile. The Wonderboom is designed to be used as is, but it sounds good and that will remove a layer of complexity that many users simply won't need.
We have enjoyed UE speakers for many years and the Wonderboom is an excellent smaller-scale proposition in the series. It's ideal for those who want to get out into the world and not have to worry about dropping it or getting it wet. All without breaking the bank.
The fun and simple design has plenty of appeal, especially in its various colour options. Ok, so there are more sophisticated designs in speakers of this type - like the BeoPlay A1 which is an excellent performer (but a far pricier one), which might suit your décor at home a little better - but the UE Wonderboom is for the active generation.
If you camp, ski, have a pool, like to party, go outside or are just a free spirit who loves music, then it's hard not to see the appeal of the UE Wonderboom. Just remember to buy a second speaker for your wife, child, husband, aunt, granny or dog too.
The alternatives to consider...
B&O BeoPlay A1
The B&O BeoPlay A1 might be small and rather pricey (£199), but it's an exemplary Bluetooth speaker that gets down to the job in producing great sound from a beautifully designed package. If sound quality is the most important thing you're looking for from a small speaker, then this is the one you want and the one worth paying for.
Read the full review: B&O BeoPlay A1 review