Ultimate Ears today announced the UE Roll, a discus-shaped, ultra-rugged, waterproof Bluetooth speaker for $100, and we have an exclusive review. The speaker is unmistakably small, and you’ll be tossing it around like a frisbee (or discus) almost as fast as you’ll be listening to it. But you can actually do both at the same time!
The UE Roll is drop-proof and waterproof (IPX7 certified) to 3 feet under water, and ideal for use at the pool or beach. It doesn’t float, although an included baby “floatie” can keep it from sinking should you find the need to take it in the pool or bathtub with you. Plus there is a bungee strap on the back to hook it on anything. It’s small enough that you’ll want to take it with you or attach it to something, but just big enough not to fit in your pocket. However, it’s extremely portable and just plain fun to use.
The UE Roll claims 9 hours of music listening, which is impressive for a speaker this small. There are two buttons on the bottom — one for power, the other for Bluetooth pairing. Initial and subsequent pairing was immediate when re-connecting to the same device. A pleasant audible drumbeat chime plays when powered on and successfully paired. The plus/minus integrated buttons on the top facade handle volume up or down. Hidden beneath a pull-tab on the back are two ports — micro USB for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack for an almost pointless wired listening option. That’s about as simple as you can get. The downside is any track controls have to be handled from the connected smartphone.
The UE Roll is designed to lay flat to spread music in all directions. But it can also be leaned against a wall or hung on a hook vertically to get more directional sound. Furthermore, if you buy two you can listen in stereo or double-up the sound. But they can also be mix-and-matched with other UE Bluetooth speakers to play together or separately using the company’s app for iOS or Android. In addition, the app wirelessly updates the speaker should a software update add features or improve sonics. Essentially, the UE Roll could get better over time.
As an audiophile, I’ve never been a fan of such small speakers, but I’m starting to find them acceptable because they are just so versatile and entertaining. From the jump, I never expected such a small speaker to meet audiophile standards. But I found myself using it more than I thought, which is a testament to its design and sound. To my surprise, it ultimately passed my $99 speaker test for sound quality. The bass is never boomy or low, yet there are nice pops in exchange for deeper bass. I can’t exalt the speaker much more, but I can say it should please most casual listeners and may even surprise others.
The UE Roll is the fourth Bluetooth speaker from Ultimate Ears, which also includes the UE Mini Boom ($99), UE Boom ($199), and UE Megaboom ($299). So the question becomes should you buy the UE Roll, or spend a little more for something bigger? I haven’t heard the mini Boom, which is priced the same, yet I suspect the Roll to be a better choice because of its versatility. The UE Boom gets you a little better sound, but is not fully submersible, although still shock-proof. Is it worth double the price if you can buy two UE Rolls for the same cost? That’s a tough call because I’ve only heard one of each. Finally, there is the UE Megaboom which outshines them all and is our current winner of Best Value wireless speaker. At $299, you get a substantial jump in sound quality and all the ruggedness of the UE Roll in a cylinder that is still easy to take with you. Luckily, there are no bad choices.
Ultimate Ears is literally on a roll with their newest Bluetooth speaker. The company has once again forged ahead of the pack with a unique, almost indestructible, pint-sized wireless speaker that arrives in six different fashionable color combinations later this month for $99.99.
- IPX7 certified
- 65-foot wireless range
- 9 hour battery life
- Height: (1.57″) 40mm
- Diameter: (5.3″) 135mm
- Weight: 12 oz.
- Warranty: Two-year limited hardware warranty
- Purple = Sugar Plum
- Grey/black = Volcano
- Blue = Atmosphere
- Orange with red design = Sriracha
- Pink with blue design = Piñata
- Blue with green design = Reef