Ultimate Ears Megablast Alexa smart speaker

“If you’re on the lookout for Alexa, she’s within the bathtub with me” isn’t a sentence we ever pictured ourselves uttering however it’s truly change into surprisingly frequent since we began reviewing the brand new Ultimate Ears Megablast.

Ultimate Ears is a model recognized for its wonderful and durable Bluetooth audio system and with its new Megablast it’s thrown Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant into the combo. 

With the Megablast you get the 360 diploma sound, portability and sturdiness of the wonderful UE Boom speaker with the smarts of an Echo. It’s a wedding made in speaker heaven.

Design

It makes a variety of sense to mix a Bluetooth speaker with a smart residence speaker – it takes away the necessity to have two gadgets the place one might do. And if we might have had one model make it occur it will actually have been Ultimate Ears.

As far as design is anxious, the Megablast appears good. Yes it’s chunky, however its tall cylindrical form means it appears concurrently strong and neat. You wouldn’t fly right into a panic if it fell from its desk – it is a speaker that may deal with itself. 

It’s additionally good to see a smart residence speaker in colours that aren’t black or white however are nonetheless residence pleasant. Ultimate Ears has created some muted jewel tones in yellow, blue, purple, and inexperienced which make issues a little bit extra attention-grabbing. There are, after all, black and white choices obtainable in the event you'd want to play it protected. 

Performance and options

UE Megablast is the smart residence speaker dream for younger households. It's multifunctional and its strong design means it might take the inevitable unintentional beating that it’ll get from being in a house with a younger little one. It's not low cost – at $299.99 / £269.99 comfort and peace of thoughts come at a steep value.

Admittedly, we don’t have a younger little one however as careless younger adults we additionally vastly appreciated it. When you throw a home social gathering with the Megablast, you don’t really feel the necessity to cordon off the a part of the room it’s in. You’re truly extra more likely to end up pulling the basin from the kitchen to point out your friends that it might nonetheless play music submerged in water.

While it has nice potential and lots of positives, although, the Megablast actually isn’t good. Fortunately, a few of its largest points aren’t everlasting.

App gentle

The most notable concern with the Megablast is that in contrast to an precise Echo speaker it doesn’t help widespread music streaming apps like Spotify and Apple Music – you’re just about restricted to Amazon Music. You can nonetheless use these providers over a Bluetooth connection however you may’t use Alexa to manage them together with your voice.

Perhaps to offset this limitation, Ultimate Ears has made it in order that anybody that purchases a Blast speaker will get three months of Amazon’s Music service without spending a dime, however we're unlikely to cancel our Spotify subscription anytime quickly. 

If you’ve already received a music streaming subscription for a service like Spotify the place you’ve been steadily increase personalised playlists, it’s considerably galling you could’t ask Alexa to place one among them on. Particularly when a regular Echo speaker would have the option to take action.

We did, nonetheless, ask a UE rep whether or not or not different streaming providers could be coming sooner or later and we had been instructed that it’s within the pipeline, however there’s no actual time-frame simply but.

Speaking of apps, controlling the Megablast would require two – Ultimate Ears' personal app for arrange and minor controls like quantity, and the primary Alexa app for Alexa customisation and talent set up. This isn't the most straightforward and streamlined strategy on the earth, however we didn't discover it grating as post-setup neither app was required particularly typically.

A social community

Another factor that may are available in a future replace is speaker linking. At the second it’s not doable to hyperlink your Megablast speaker to another Ultimate Ears gadget. This is one thing that’s doable with earlier Ultimate Ears fashions and is an enormous benefit that Sonos methods have. Fortunately, Ultimate Ears has stated that it’ll make networking doable in a future software program replace.

It’s not clear whether or not it’ll be doable to solely hyperlink the brand new blast fashions collectively or whether or not older fashions can even be capable of be linked up however each could be welcome for multi-room voice controls if not merely multi-room sound. 

Regardless, having this operate would make the Ultimate Ears’ system preferable to Sonos’ as not solely would you get the networking capabilities, you’d get the portability and sturdiness Sonos lacks. You actually wouldn’t catch us taking our decidedly non-waterproof Sonos speaker into the toilet.

We're midway there

It’s laborious to name the Megablast a like-for-like Amazon Echo alternative out of the field because it does require that you simply buy the sold-separately Power Up dock to actually recreate the Echo expertise. This dock connects to the silver D-ring on the bottom of the speaker and expenses it, although sadly it gained't work with the D-ring on the Boom or Megaboom audio system. 

Though the Megablast can run for a formidable 16 hours, with out the dock and no music to maintain taking part in it'll go into energy saving mode of its personal accord. This signifies that irrespective of how loudly you shout, Alexa gained’t hear you. 

Power saving mode is, after all, actually helpful for a Bluetooth speaker that you simply’re inclined to depart mendacity round however it doesn’t make for a very handy smart speaker. While it acts as a charger and an Alexa cradle, buying the dock can be an added £34.99/$39.99 to an already costly speaker.

We did attempt merely plugging the speaker in through its USB port and leaving it linked on this manner however it doesn't look nice given the cable sticks straight out of the highest. Plus, it's additionally an issue because the speaker doesn't appear to choose up requests fairly as nicely when it's propped the other way up.

With the dock, nonetheless, we discovered that the Megablast was a superbly good Echo alternative. Not solely is its voice recognition pretty much as good, the Megablast presents a lot better sound too.

Sound efficiency

In phrases of sound high quality the Megablast delivers wonderful 360-degree sound. In each room we used it in it stuffed the house with sound. Even after we used it in a extra open backyard house, it didn’t battle with the upper quantity one bit – not solely was it capable of go loud, it was capable of go loud with none discernible distortion. This might be due to the addition two tweeters which make it extra ready than earlier Ultimate Ears audio system to ship well-rounded excessive frequency sounds. 

Impressively, at a sound degree that's on the higher-end of acceptability for indoor listening, the Megablast doesn't fail to register Alexa requests.

Something that’s price allowing for is you could solely entry the Megablast’s Alexa capabilities when the speaker is linked to a Wi-Fi hotspot. This isn’t actually a lot of an issue as once you’re outdoors your house and away from Wi-Fi, you’re unlikely to need to management your smart residence gadgets. 

You can nonetheless hook up with your cell Wi-Fi hotspot, although, if you wish to entry Alexa’s hands-free music controls on the go. Without your cell hotspot or Wi-Fi, it will revert again to a regular Ultimate Ears Bluetooth speaker. 

Final verdict

Largely, the Megablast appears like a speaker with some smarts moderately than an outright smart speaker however that’s not a nasty factor. Ultimate Ears is primarily a speaker model and with the Megablast it’s achieved a superb job. It’s loud, stable, appears nice and boasts a steady Bluetooth connectivity. 

It’s good to have the ability to seize Alexa from the lounge the place you’ve been utilizing her to manage the TV and take her with out a difficulty into the Kitchen to assist with recipe measurements, and from there into the toilet from there to hearken to music whilst you bathe.  

Then, in the event you’re going out within the night to a pal’s social gathering or down into your backyard you may take the Megablast with you and Alexa’s capabilities are only a Wi-Fi connection away. It’s a smart speaker with flexibility which nearly makes up for the methods through which it's missing subsequent to the Echo. 

That stated, the Amazon Echo is considerably inexpensive than this speaker. At $299.99 / £269.99 (and that's not even together with the dock) the Megablast will set you again greater than the latest Amazon Echo or a Sonos One speaker. 

The Ultimate Ears Megablast feels very very similar to a superb speaker with smarts moderately than a simple smart speaker. If you're on the lookout for some Alexa abilities however you're not notably fussed about having the perfect and loudest sound or taking your speaker out of your house, it's finest to avoid wasting cash and go for a less expensive however far more appropriate different. 

Overall, the Megablast is a superb addition to the Ultimate Ears lineup and could also be its finest sounding speaker but. It hasn’t fairly lived as much as all of our expectations however when it will get Alexa help for a wider vary of music providers and might create a multi-room speaker community it’ll be fairly rattling shut. 

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