Ultimate Ears speakers’ get voice upgrade that lets you ‘say it to play it’

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With the UE Boom 2, Ultimate Ears makes a great speaker even better.
A firmware update lets you bark song requests at your Boom 2 speaker. But you'll have to push a button first.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

A firmware update to Ultimate Ears’ Bluetooth speakers lets you use simple voice commands to make song requests.

After you install the over-the-air update, just tap the Bluetooth button on the top of your paired Boom 2 or Megaboom speaker, then say something like, “Play ‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath.” Soon the track will play as if by magic.

Stay splashy: Ultimate summer speaker gets an upgrade

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UE Roll 2 waterproof
The UE Roll 2 is ready to rock you through your splashy summer.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

The UE Roll, a UFO-shaped Bluetooth speaker that’s built to withstand the rigors of your super-splashy summer, is getting a welcome upgrade. Much like this year’s refreshed MacBook line, the UE Roll 2 packs performance enhancements (and a new paint job) into a product we already know and love.

With its “lifeproof” design, and a beefy bungee cord built right in, it’s the ultimate “take your tunes anywhere” speaker. Only now it’s a wee bit better.

UE Boom 2 brings the jams anywhere, anytime

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With the UE Boom 2, Ultimate Ears makes a great speaker even better.
With the UE Boom 2, Ultimate Ears makes a great speaker even better.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Best List: UE Boom 2 by Ultimate Ears

We loved the original UE Boom and the new 2.0 version is even better. The UE Boom 2 is stain-resistant, stylish, shock-resistant and completely waterproof. We’re not sure who is trying to listen to their tunes underwater, but if that’s your jam … you are good to go.

UE Boom 2 gets Block Party mode so you can blast friends’ tunes

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The UE Boom 2's new Block Party feature makes it easier than ever to share music with friends.
The UE Boom 2's new Block Party feature makes it easier than ever to share music with friends.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

SAN FRANCISCO — A slick new feature coming to Ultimate Ears’ Bluetooth speakers will let you stream your friends’ music from the palm of your hand.

Called Block Party, it lets up to three friends connect to the same UE speaker. Then the self-appointed DJ can pick and choose from each person’s tunes, pulled from streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. The DJ can skip songs and jump from playlist to playlist, and it’s all shockingly smooth and simple.

UE Boom 2 speaker brings more of everything (except for screws)

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The UE Boom 2 is pretty on the inside, too.
The UE Boom 2 is pretty on the inside, too.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

SAN FRANCISCO — Ultimate Ears could have borrowed the iPhone 6s tag line to market its new UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speakers.

Like Apple’s latest smartphones, which Cupertino hypes with the clever catchphrase “the only thing that’s changed is everything,” UE’s second-generation Bluetooth speaker is almost indistinguishable from its tubular predecessor — at least on the outside. But upgraded specs and a few pleasant surprises give the Boom 2 a welcome boost.

“There’s something magic about this design,” said Diego Gabathuler, head of brand and global marketing for Ultimate Ears, as he showed off the Boom 2 during a demo at the Cult of Mac offices. “It would have been a shame to take that magic away.”

With its little life preserver, UE Roll is the perfect summer speaker

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The UE Roll didn't float, so  it comes with an itsy-bitsy life preserver (if you order direct).
The waterproof UE Roll doesn't float, so it comes with an itsy-bitsy life preserver (if you order direct).
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Not content to conquer the Bluetooth speaker market with tubes and bigger tubes, Ultimate Ears made its latest portable audio device look like a lily pad. They made it waterproof, too. The only problem was, the UE Roll sank like a stone.

“As life would have it, it doesn’t float,” said Rory Dooley, Ultimate Ears’ senior vice president, during a visit to the Cult of Mac headquarters.

The solution? Create a tiny life preserver for the UE Roll, and give it away to anybody who orders the hottest speaker of the summer directly from UE’s website (while supplies last).

Best List: Killer gear for iPhone lovers, bike riders and ax wielders

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lust_list_bolstr_bag001-780x520

I want extra pockets without having to wear goofy cargo pants. So while perusing one of my favorite guy websites, Everyday Carry, I came across a little bag made by Koyono called the bolstr bag.

It's perfect for tooling around Chicago, allowing me to discreetly store a phone, iPad mini, notebook and point-and-shoot camera. Plus, its slim design and asymmetrical shape look way cooler than knee-level flapped pockets on either leg.

The bolstr small carry bag comes in a variety of colors and left- or right-side orientations (as a lefty, I appreciate this design consideration). — David Pierini

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac


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Best of CES 2015: Get a glimpse of the fantastic future

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Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Anything goes at International CES, the world's largest consumer electronics show. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
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LAS VEGAS — Walk the halls of the massive International CES trade show and you’ll be bombarded by an outrageous number of pitches for products with radical new features.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 You can glimpse the shiny happy future of consumer electronics at the show, although some of the innovations on display are clearly destined for the dustbin of gadget history.

At the biggest booths, reps for big companies like Sony and Samsung — but, sadly, not Apple — talk up the latest additions to their product lines. At smaller booths, inventors show off prototypes for products that may not ever roll off an assembly line. There’s a nonstop blitz of “world’s first” products.

It’s impossible to see everything, but it’s a blast trying. Here are Cult of Mac’s picks for the best of CES 2015, from Lightning-enabled headphones and massive TVs to drones and self-adjusting belts.

UE Megaboom speaker takes a licking and keeps on kicking out the jams

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The UE Megaboom Bluetooth speaker brings the noise in a nearly indestructible package.
UE Megaboom bluetooth speaker. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s easy to see how the UE Megaboom could become your favorite way to listen to music. The new Bluetooth speaker packs great features into a rugged cylindrical package that won’t go tits up if you drop it or leave it out in the rain.

The UE Megaboom is bigger and louder than its predecessor, the similarly shaped UE Boom. It delivers glittering, precise highs and satisfying bass. It’s lightweight and boasts a 20-hour rechargeable battery. All in all, it’s a perfect device for the way we listen to music in the streaming era.

Logitech’s UE Boom Is A Seriously Loud, Rugged Portable Bluetooth Speaker [Review]

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Where's the single malt?
Where's the single malt?

When I received the UE Boom in the mail and opened the mailing box, I thought maybe the PR rep had secretly slipped me a bottle of Scotch. Not that I would have minded, of course.

UE Boom by Ultimate Ears/Logitech
Category: Bluetooth Speaker
Works With: Any Bluetooth Audio Source
Price: $199.99

It turns out that this ruggedized little portable Bluetooth speaker by Logitech-owned Ultimate Ears (UE) comes in some slick packaging that I’m loathe to get rid of, it’s that cool. The cylindrical speaker fits snugly in the center portion of the box, and each side has a cute little compartment where the bright yellow power plug and flat premium micro USB cable fit in, each with its respective symbol printed on a little flag. It’s striking packaging, which should go over well with consumers.

Luckily, the actual speaker here, a smallish cylinder made to be set on end vertically as well as on its side horizontally, is a fantastic sounding Bluetooth speaker, with a full, clear tonal spectrum that’s surprising in something so small. The bass response could be a bit punchier, but I don’t find that to be an issue at all, and actually prefer the more balanced tonal approach.