Ul­ti­mate Ears Me­gablast


PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - Blast $278 Me­gablast $378 • www.ul­ti­matears.com

Ul­ti­mate Ears’ Alexa-pow­ered Blast speak­ers have a real out­doorsy style. Be­neath their tough rub­ber ex­te­ri­ors lurk size­able in­ter­nal bat­ter­ies, last­ing for 12 hours on the smaller Blast and 16 hours for the im­pos­ing Me­gablast. They’re IP67-rated too, so you don’t need to worry about dirt or wa­ter splashes.

As usual, con gu­ra­tion is split be­tween a ded­i­cated Ul­ti­mate Ears app and the reg­u­lar Alexa app, but the for­mer just han­dles ba­sic con­nec­tion set­tings, so there’s no con­fu­sion. And it’s de­light­fully easy to con gure your phone as a por­ta­ble hotspot for the Blast, so Alexa con­tin­ues to work while you’re out.

Smart fea­tures are mostly present and cor­rect. Pre­dictably, there’s no voice call­ing, and you can’t change the wake word from “Alexa”, but queries and com­mands gen­er­ally work as you’d hope.

The phys­i­cal de­sign of the Blast is also oddly way­ward, with the power socket hid­den un­der a ap at the bot­tom, so the speaker can’t be charged while it’s stand­ing up­right.

The vol­ume con­trols aren’t bril­liantly thought out, ei­ther; you have to steady the unit with one hand while you push the huge front­fac­ing but­tons, or it’ll top­ple over.

Still, as speak­ers, they’re not bad. The reg­u­lar Blast has more pres­ence than you’d ex­pect from its size and over­all it’s a crisper, more ex­cit­ing tone than the Ama­zon Echo. The Me­gablast has a much solider bot­tom end and a more bal­anced sound all round – and it cranks up to a suit­ably mega 86dBA.

We’ve one last quib­ble. Pur­port­edly, these units fea­ture three mi­cro­phones with noise­can­celling tech­nol­ogy. In prac­tice, we of­ten found that once we’d asked them to start play­ing mu­sic, they couldn’t al­ways hear us tell them to stop.

With no charg­ing base and a some­what deaf ear to com­mands, the Blast and Me­gablast can’t be rec­om­mended as our favourite gen­eral-pur­pose smart speak­ers. Even so, their porta­bil­ity and de­cent sound make them hard to dis­like: if you’re head­ing for the beach, there are far worse com­pan­ions to take along.

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