Ultimate Ears launches two new voice control speakers

Thursday, 19 Oct, 2017

Aside from Alexa, the new Ultimate Ears devices boast all the features you'd expect from a portable bluetooth speaker from the USA company.

Like Echo and Echo Dot, Blast and Megablast owners can summon the virtual assistant with the wake word "Alexa".

While we all accept that the Amazon Echo was a game-changing device, the biggest criticism of Amazon's smart speaker was the sound quality.

What really makes the UE Blast and UE Megablast different from all the other Alexa speakers that we've seen so far is that they are also battery powered.

Logitech has announced two new Ultimate Ears speakers, the Blast and the Megablast.

Both are battery operated, IP67 water and dustproof and offer 12 hours playback, or in the case of the "loudest ever" Megablast, 16 hours, which is impressive considering it can pump out an earsplitting 96dB. That Wi-Fi range is a hefty 330 feet, while the Bluetooth connection cuts off at a very respectable 150 feet. There are three built-in microphones, which is fewer than the seven in the echo, but Ultimate Ears claims that its beam-forming software is able to achieve the same level of accuracy, even over the whopping 93dBC sound pressure level (SPL) of the Megaboom.

The Megablast uses two 25mm tweeters, two 55mm active drivers and two 85mm x 50mm passive radiators.

The Blast features two 35mm active drivers and two 81-by-39mm passive radiators in a 1.4-pound cylindrical frame. But when it comes to solid portable speakers with Alexa built in, the pickings are actually kind of slim.

It's also worth noting that pre-orders are available now from the Ultimate Ears site and that any purchase made before January 23 2018 will come with a three-month subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited for new subscribers.

Of course, it's not just music controls that Alexa is good for.

You also get access to other Alexa services such as news reports, weather, audiobooks, voice control of compatible IoT devices, general inquiries and more than 25,000 skills. From lighting and heating to cooking and cleaning, Alexa is one of the most widely-connected smart assistants. Plus, depending on how loud you play music, those ratings are actually pretty accurate.

"The reason we chose Alexa to start with is because we saw consumers gravitating towards that platform", says LaBrutto. That means that you can take Alexa on the move with you, giving you a distinct advantage over a speaker like the new Sonos One. But Ultimate Ears thinks that Alexa will add an extra layer of convenience when you're listening around the house. An optional Power Up dock holds either speaker vertically while keeping it charged; they must be plugged directly into a USB cable otherwise.

Ultimate Ears' Blast and Megablast are also on a fast track to getting smarter over time with regular feature updates. The POWER UP charging station will be $39.99; T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T will offer a bundle with the BLAST and POWER UP, too, with a $10 saving versus buying them individually.