We are in the middle of a bluetooth speaker overload! Every company makes them and there are WAY too many choices at the local Best Buy. Search Amazon and you'll be even more confused. One company that seems to be bubbling up from the pack is Ultimate Ears (owned by Logitech). Their latest speaker is the UE Roll. A bizarre-looking small speaker that claims 360 degree sound. I put it to the test.
Shaped like a UFO with a bungee cord connected to the back, the UE Roll has an interesting shape. Stretch all of your fingers out, that's about the size of the Roll. On the front you'll find a giant volume up and volume down button. That's also the side where the music comes out. Flip it over and you'll see the thick bungee cord as well as the power button, charging port and audio-in jack. The UE Roll is designed to be simple.
The Roll is waterproof. Up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. It's also designed to be rugged. Ultimate Ears claims it can take a beating and keep on going. I dumped water on it and dropped it a few times around the house. So far, so good. The bungee cord is cool. You can hang the Roll in the shower,strap it to a bike or anything for that matter. It's a different directions for a bluetooth speaker but it's fun and makes perfect sense.
Inside you'll find a battery that UE claims will last for 9 hours. This is impressive. I wasn't able to test the full 9 hours but charging the Roll wasn't an issue. On the software side the Ultimate Ears app has some fun tricks up its' sleeve. It can upgrade the Roll's internal software wirelessly. This means if they come out with new features the process of updating the speaker is super easy. You can also pair two UE Rolls together and use them to double the sound or rock out in stereo. This is an awesome option. Kudos to UE for doing something different on the hardware and software side.
How does it sound?
In a word: good! Everyone I showed the Roll to was blown away by how loud, crisp and clear the music was. Bass was decent but you're only going to get so much bass from a speaker of this size. I've heard a ga-zillion small bluetooth speakers and this ranks among the best.
For some, the shape may be too odd. If you fit into that group, there are plenty of traditional speakers out there. Otherwise, I think this is the best bluetooth speaker your money can buy for under $100. It looks cool (comes in 6 different designs), sounds great and has some extra features that separate it from the pack. The UE Roll is available right now for $99.