Ultimate Ears is a brand synonymous with the outrageous, while still providing absolute quality. When Logitech acquired the company, it extended its portfolio of impressive sound equipment to reach the mobile market, something UE was already entrenched in. While it isn’t always easy to break new ground when it comes to portability with Bluetooth speakers, UE has always managed to pull out an extra ace up its sleeve whenever it releases any new products.
A short while back, Logitech announced their latest lineup of “everywhere” speakers, including the UE Roll, UE Boom 2 and UE Megaboom. Having been given a UE Roll review unit, I put it through its paces.
Build and Design
The build and design of a UE product is unlike any other, most often unique for each individual product, and yet, each unmistakably UE. The Roll is no different. The design, in short, looks pretty much like a flying saucer UFO, a really bright one. The unit is available in a host of different colours, patterns and themes, and is safe to paint on with your own designs, even on the front fabric covering.
What’s really great about the design is that it is fully waterproof. It has an IPX7 rating, which means it can be fully submerged for a few minutes at a time without having to worry. This makes is easy to use on vacation while you’re at the pool or the lake, or even while you’re singing your favourite tunes in the shower. UE have added two considerably large buttons volumes buttons on the front, the + and –, which are also embroidered and stand out from the surface, making it easy to press, even when underwater. The rear houses a very useful elastic cord, which users can use to hang the unit in shower, or attach to their arms when out and about. The elastic band also straps around a rubber hook on the back to make it more secure when you’re leaving it to hang in place. This makes it easy to attach to most surfaces, even a vertical metal rod.
Another useful factor in the design is its ruggedness. While it isn’t an easy test to be throwing a unit to the ground, Logitech assured everyone in a few demonstrations of its own that the unit was fully drop-proof. Although I’m not able to attest to the most extreme conditions, the UE Roll stood up to most of what a threw at it, or threw it at, without as much as a scratch on it. Other features rounding up the design include a 3.5mm jack and microUSB port for charging, both of which are covered by rubberised flaps to avoid any water damage. But, in the event of a slight mishap on your part, these ports are waterproof as well. All in all, then, the UE Roll has an almost complete outdoor build and design.
There are a number of factors when considering a mobile speaker. The above-mention build and design doesn’t always rank as the highest importance, but it certainly does make things easier when choosing. Other factors include the battery life, sound quality and performance. For starters, the Roll has an impressive 9-hour battery life for continuous playback at a moderate sound level. During my testing, I only recharged the device twice, once at the start and once midway through, in a week’s duration. Its small size puts you at a discomfort of what to expect sound-wise, but I can assure you there aren’t many qualms to be had. The unit has a full range of highs and lows, and clarity on a portable speaker that is of the highest order. Even more astonishingly, the clarity remains even when the volume is turned to its maximum, with no distortion at all. This is a very good indicator for a portable speaker, which often don’t have the range and clarity, even at normal sound levels. The only negative point on the sound is its slight lack of sub-bass, not often found on most tracks.
The UE Roll, although well designed, isn’t meant to be a stand-alone device, but instead has a number of features and functionality that makes it ideal for party mode. The Roll is best utilised by pairing more than one unit together to enjoy amongst friends at a get-together. And while one smartphone is capable of linking to each individual unit, the converse is also available, in that more than one smartphone (be it Android or iOS based) can connect to a single unit, allowing other users to control the music being played, as well as adjust the volume and other settings. The pairing is not limited to just the Roll, but any other UE device mentioned earlier. The settings also allow users to choose the type of setup, which speaker is the left and right, or just simply play through available UE speakers. One such scenario, for example, is at a pool party, where users can connect the different UE speakers available, and simply throw the speakers into the pool to float around on their own, or have users carry their speakers with them wherever they go.
There are hordes of mobile, Bluetooth speakers available on the market today, but very few that have the range, portability, ruggedness, and quality of the UE range, and in this case, the UE Roll. The units aren’t the most affordable, the Roll will set you back R2,499, but have a set of features that are unmatched by its rivals. While the features themselves are enough to make you consider the UE range, the design and build quality are also important factors to consider. Apart from the slightly high pricing, there’s very little to deter anyone from purchases the Roll, and comes highly recommended.